The Name Game
Further to this post about language and the abortion issue, comes this email.
Sent: Fri 5/22/2009 2:38 PM
To: Zerbisias, Antonia
Subject: "I Am Pro-Life"; facile labels
I shook my head while reading your recent blog post "I Am Pro-Life". At the
outset, it seemed like you were going to repudiate the facile labelling and
name-calling that characterizes 98% of the content of abortion arguments.
But it quickly became clear that you're only rejecting the choice of label
of The Other Side, while foisting awful ones onto them. Do you believe this
is a contribution to the debate?
As for the label, you're (small p) pro-life, i'm pro-life, everyone's
pro-life. Of course. That's easy. I'm also pro-choice. How could i not be? I
support all kinds of free choice, even some that our levels of government
don't allow us. That's easy.
I have never called myself Pro-Life because of the associations involved,
political et al. However i believe life begins at conception (how could one
honestly believe otherwise?) and my other beliefs and actions stem logically
from that. My wife is equally persuaded.
Am I a misogynist? Absolutely not.
I hate misogynists, and it's a concept that's totally foreign to me.
Am i Anti-Choice? Am I Pro-Forced-Pregnancy? Those are facile terms that
don't capture the complexity of the issue we're dealing with. You seem to
acknowledge that complexity in your citations of David Frum, but quickly
back away by using those awful labels.
What about Fet-o-Phile? Disgusting. Every time i see it in one of your posts
and articles i am inclined to disregard the whole thing.
In short, please elevate dialogue by finding common ground. When you
use labels for The Other Side, you're hitting the wedge with your biggest
mallet, and that's not good for anybody. It makes you look like a hypocrite,
alienating everyone but your base.
But what does one call ''the other side'' when it denies women control over their own lives and bodies? What does one call ''the other side'' when it places more value on a clump of cells than on a living, breathing woman? What does one call ''the other side'' when it lies to women about the psychological and physical effects of abortion? What does one call the other side when it denies the reality that women will seek out back alley abortions if they have no choice? What does one call ''the other side'' when it calls for prison sentences for doctors who save women?
Let's see ...
Pro-life? No, sorry. You can't co-opt that term, as I blogged yesterday.
Anti-abortion? Nope. That's because it implies that ''my side'' is ''pro-abortion'' which it's not. We would much rather that conception be prevented in the first place if a child is not wanted. (And yet, some factions on ''the other side'' are also demanding that The Pill be banned because it supposedly is abortifacient.)
Anti-choice? Maybe, but ''the other side'' will be the first to tell you that it is ''pro-choice'' -- for the ''unborn child.''
You see the dilemma here?
Which is why I use terms like pro-forced-pregnancy types, zygote zealots, fetus fetishists, etc.
No, they don't conjure pretty images.
But neither does a woman dying of septicemia.
The suggestion box is open.