I’ve been reading the liberal memes on Facebook about abortion. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Memes like “Republican Platform Calls for Constitutional Amendment Banning Abortion with No Exception for Rape or Incest.” They excoriate the conservative position for not having the exceptions, and they’re right to do so although they don’t go far enough.
The problem is that they’re giving away half the game to conservatives. Exceptions for rape or incest should be a given. Only a cruel person would force a woman who has been raped to carry a rapist’s baby to term, then give birth, and then allow the rapist to have parental rights (in some states). That is cruel — cruel and unusual punishment — for a woman who has already been violated once by the rapist.
This whole issue of abortion boils down to one word: choice. It’s about freedom — freedom for a woman to make decisions about her body. It’s really that simple.
But as framed by Democrats and the President, the current debate about abortion — centered as it is around rape victims and the health exception — put women in the position of supplicants, seeking permission to end their pregnancies. Most people, fortunately, think there are circumstances where that permission should be granted. But true freedom is not freedom to ask permission—it’s freedom to make a decision. That’s what pro-choice really means, and it would be healthy for abortion-rights supporters to say so clearly and often.
Republicans want to eliminate a woman’s right to choose what happens in her body. They want to take away a woman’s freedom to make decisions, a major theme in “The Handmaid’s Tale“. (I’m rereading this now, and there are quite a few parallels to America today. Give it a read if you haven’t read it or if it’s been awhile; it’s worth your time.) Liberals are allowing the anti-abortion groups to stake out the moral high ground when it isn’t there’s to stake out. They need to stop giving away the store.
No one likes abortion. No one. Everyone is pro-life. Some are pro-choice (I am pro-choice); some are anti-choice. Those are the accurate labels. So why do those who are pro-choice allow those who are anti-choice to frame the argument that way? (This problem — allowing conservatives to frame the debate in their terms — isn’t unique to the abortion debate.)
Instead of curtailing a woman’s freedom, we need to take pragmatic steps to reduce abortion. I think nearly everyone wants fewer abortions. We should provide realistic, good sex education in schools. We also need to provide access and training for contraception.
People honestly need to grow up in this country. Teenagers and adults are going to have sex. Pregnancies might occur. Teaching people how to prevent pregnancy will have a desired effect — fewer abortions.
People who are pro-choice should frame the argument as it really is. It’s about choice. It’s about freedom. And only down the line is it about abortion.