What Tired Pro-Choice Rhetoric Hath Wrought
The Chicago Tribune writes about it here:
I've heard an awful lot of hand-wringing and conservative-hating and doom forecast by women of my acquaintance over this one. And I say to all of them, "Yes, and what have you done in the past ten years to stem this tide, aside from tsk-tsking about it over your skim lattes? Did you write checks to NARAL or other legislative advocacy groups? Did you encourage your clergyperson to speak on behalf of safe, legal abortion and reproductive choice? Did you write letters to legislators and editors making an ethical case for reproductive choice? Did you testify anywhere, or attend a rally? Did you talk to young men and women about the urgency of this issue? Did you make a case for abortion whenever possible: a morally reasoned, ethical argument that goes beyond the old slogans and cliches? Because obviously, not enough of us did."
We all knew this was coming, didn't we?
We saw again and again the failure of our own outdated rhetoric and pro-choice slogans -- we had to have seen it, as reproductive technologies made it impossible not to notice the hypocrisy of getting excited about "the baby" as soon as we viewed it on an ultrasound (4-8 weeks), but then to insist that it's a "fetus" when we didn't want to carry it to term. We kept chanting, "Get your rosaries out of my ovaries" and "If you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child," and "Just say 'no' to sex with pro-lifers" and other phrases that eventually lost their sting (like fifteen years ago) and began to sound merely defensive and petulant. Meanwhile, young women rejected the label "feminist" and, never knowing a time before Roe V Wade, took up the "pro-life" mantle with self-righteous vigor.
They had no idea, none at all, what it would cost us all to lose the right to seek a safe abortion. It has slipped away little by little, state by state, clinic bombing by clinic bombing, and while we were getting fired up by the lawsuit against the pharmacist who refused to dispense the Morning After Pill, one governor was getting ready to consign every pregnant South Dakotan woman to government-enforced motherhood.
It's easy to accuse lawmakers who outlaw safe, legal abortion as misogynist, and I truly believe they are. But the people elect the legislators. We elect them. Until those who frame the pro-choice message start abandoning the slogans and speaking truth about how women sometimes choose to make a human sacrifice to poverty, fear, rampant male immaturity and their own personal life goals, we're going to keep losing this, state by state.
Not to say that speaking truth will persuade the opponents. But it might impress the younger ones coming up behind us who have never heard honest and frank, unvarnished talk about the many possible interpretations of "saving the life of the mother." We've sentimentalized motherhood so much we're terrified of what will happen when Mommy sits us down and explains that along with her great big mushy love for us, she's got rage and wildness and freedom, and that sometimes she just does not have it in her to be consumed by the needs of another life. And that God created Woman, and only Woman, with a womb to grow a baby in and a vagina to deliver a baby out of, and that if Woman doesn't want to grow a baby and deliver it, she will assure that she doesn't have to, even risking her life to assure that she doesn't have to.
Woman who doesn't want to bring another life into this world has always known how to make arrangements to prevent that, and has done so since the beginning of time.
We can be realistic and make it possible for Woman to terminate a pregnancy in a safe and legal way, or we can decide as a society that if she gets pregnant, she has two realistic choices: she can be a mother at whatever cost to her (and her children), or she can be dead of a botched abortion.
And meanwhile, Men make laws to decide these things. And their Mamas are right proud of them.