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Up till now I've used the term 'pro-life'....

(88 Posts)
GrimmaTheNome Thu 15-Nov-12 08:29:17

Usually in quotes...but even so...

Clearly enough in the light of the tragic case in Galway, this is an oxymoron.

I want a more accurate term - should it be 'anti-choice' or is there something better I should use?

summerflower Fri 16-Nov-12 21:47:58

Two things: I entirely agree that language matters, Grimma, I guess that was where I was going with my comments on the other thread (albeit in a slightly different context).

Secondly, FastidiaBlueberry, I think you are right to say that there used to be confusion between whether a miscarriage was spontaneous or induced, before abortion was legal. Part of the confusion was that the medical profession had no idea of the true rate of natural pregnancy loss, because there were no reliable pregnancy tests, no ultrasound, and people relied on the woman herself to make the pregnancy known, usually not until quickening (foetal movements felt). The only person who knew whether the abortion was spontaneous or induced was the woman herself (and anyone who helped her procure it, if it was induced)

So, in many ways, the creation of foetal personhood (which the pro-life debate uses to emotional advantage) is the result of technology, I think, which makes the inside of a pregnancy visible and takes it beyond the woman’s control. If that makes sense. Pregnancy is a public matter from the earliest days now, because we all can see the foetus (not the actual individual foetus, but the general, known foetus which we imagine, from scans we have seen and from well known photographs (the Swedish photographer in the 1960s whose name escapes me who used aborted foetuses for a photo series in Life magazine - ?).

So, pre-technology, it was not just sin and superstition, but the fact that the foetus was not known/seen in the way it is today.

This always makes me wonder if there was, or is, a qualitative difference between abortion 100 years ago and today, even though the actual outcome is the same.

Apologies for the long post!

SethStarkadder Fri 16-Nov-12 23:28:59

I've got a feeling that the foetus wasn't considered to be alive/real until the "quickening" (feeling kicks) in pre scan times. I'm struggling for source but I've definitely read various historical data from eqyptian texts or uk history talking about treating both men and women for issues if the foetus failed to quicken, oddly enough it's ringing a bell that this was considered to be a male failing. Must dig.

FastidiaBlueberry Sat 17-Nov-12 09:37:19

Yes even the catholic church allowed abortion up to quickening at various points in history. Augustine was more liberal on abortion, than Pope Benedict is. Although he believed "ensoulment" happened at 40 days. (nice random religious number there) I think it was Pope Innocent III in the c12 who decided quickening was when the woman felt the baby move.

It was only when women started to get some real legal rights in Europe, that the church started to decide that abortion was a sin in all cases. IE, backlash. Women get some rights in one area? Attack them in another. It's all so drearily familiar.

sashh Sat 17-Nov-12 10:17:16


But your baby is wanted and healthy, and I hope it stays that way. One of my relatives went to her first scan to find out her baby had no brain.

She could have carried to term but her baby would either be born dead, or live for seconds. She chose to terminate.

And that's what pro choice is. The choice to terminate, and to change your mind depending on circumstances.

There are women in that same situation who do carry to term. It is their choice and I'm glad that so many places allow it.

Trills Sat 17-Nov-12 10:29:06

I am pro choice because I think that whether to carry a fetus to term should be a choice.

For this reason I am also pro contraception and sexual education - people should be as well-informed as possible on how not to get pregnant in the first place if they don't want to.

I am also pro free healthcare and the welfare state and subsidised childcare and the destigmatisation of single parenthood - the choice of whether to have children should be as much as possible a free choice.

Ironically, those two praragraphs are full of things that would reduce the abortion rate, not increse it. If women did not get pregnant unless they wanted to, and if an unplanned child was not a disaster (financially, emotionally, socially), there would be fewer abortions.

But few of those who claim to be "pro life" care about the life of the woman before she falls pregnant or the life of the woman ad child after the child is born.

SamuraiCindy Sat 17-Nov-12 13:12:22

Sassh, yes I see what you mean, and I am glad women do have the choice, especially in cases like the one you mentioned.

Not that long ago I was staunchly anti-abortion. I was brought up in an ultra Catholic house (my parents are brilliant - very tolerant and loving considering they have the strongest faith ever), went to a Catholic school, went to a Catholic college, taught RE in Catholic schools (thankfully that's all over). In school there was a video called 'The Silent Scream', that was shown to ALL pupils in Year 12, that showed a baby being ripped apart inside the womb until just the head was left. Can you believe that up until quite recently, I thought that was how all abortion was carried out??? THAT is what is taught in Catholic least the one I went to (a convent school) and the ones I taught in.

So regarding abortion, all I saw was an issue of life and death...the baby's that is. I even fell out with a friend when she told me she had had an abortion after a one night stand. She was just so flippant about it like she didn't care, and it seemed so disrespectful to her baby. I could not understand how people did not see it as I saw it.

I can't believe I was ever so narrow minded. Thank goodness I became interested in feminism and learned to educate myself.

summerflower Sat 17-Nov-12 13:21:24

Seth and Fastidia, really interesting comments. If you find the reference, Seth, please do post it! Thanks.

TeaAndHugs Tue 20-Nov-12 12:43:51

I use anti-abortion and pro-choice. Anti-abortion is an accurate but not inflammatory term. Some people say that pro-choice should be referred to as pro-abortion, but that's disingenuous as most pro-choice campaigners do not want to increase the number of abortions, they just want the option to be there.

Pro-life is much too vague a term. If you asked somebody who had never heard the term used in the abortion context what they thought pro-life means, they might think of charities promoting healthcare, trying to stop wars, or all kinds of other things. Maybe some anti-abortionists also care about those things, but in this context, anti-abortion is the relevant term.

mignonette Tue 20-Nov-12 12:48:20

I use pro abortion and anti abortion. Keeps the two standpoints as clear as possible.

FastidiaBlueberry Tue 20-Nov-12 15:08:47

I don't think it does mignon because a lot of people who are in favour of abortion being a legal and safe option for a woman, are anti-abortion in the sense that they would never choose it for themselves.

In that sense, pro choice and anti-choice is more accurate.

But it's not very accurate either, because most women don't actively choose to have an abortion - they have one because there is no other choice.

I read it once described as choosing to have an abortion in the same way a fox caught in a trap chooses to gnaw its own leg off.

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Tue 20-Nov-12 15:37:04

I agree.

I don't like the term 'pro abortion' because it makes them sound like a good thing. Safe, legal abortion for those who need or want one is a good thing. But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't prefer every pregnancy to be a wanted one. And a healthy one.

Similarly I am pro-life. I think life is a good thing. I am pro people living. I hate that the term has been co-opted to mean something else.

I saw a shocking article in the Times yesterday. Women in Ireland who had had much wanted babies with conditions incompatible with life. Made to either wait until the foetus died, carry it to term (when it would die) or speak in veiled terms to medical staff about an abortion in England. Then spend their savings doing it (or borrow money from family,can't remember). Absolutely fucking shocking. Likewise a women with advanced cancer refused an abortion and resulting in a late surgical abortion in the UK. Makes me mad.

mignonette Tue 20-Nov-12 16:21:06

Your analogy is a good one Fastidia.

I still prefer to use 'pro abortion' though because also many anti-abortion campaigners sadly argue that they also offer women 'choice' in the choice to not have one confused while they claim pro abortion campaigners tend to present the 'no choice but to have one' viewpoint..

Which as we know, really is 'no choice'. We'd all like the luxury to have every baby in comfort, happiness, wealth and freedom from health concerns....

mignonette Tue 20-Nov-12 16:22:21

Also what I would choose for myself has no business interfering with what other women should have to do or have the opportunity to do. So I respectfully stick to my pro or anti abortion terms...

OneMoreChap Tue 20-Nov-12 16:28:32

Always astonishes me how many pro-lifers (particularly in the US) are also pro death penalty....

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Nov-12 16:31:59

Perhaps rather than 'pro/anti abortion' its more like 'pro abortion rights', 'anti abortion rights' ?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Nov-12 16:34:45

>Always astonishes me how many pro-lifers (particularly in the US) are also pro death penalty....
I'd like to hear how they attempt to square that circle. Or maybe they just don't. Irrational and incompatible beliefs don't seem to worry some people.

mignonette Tue 20-Nov-12 16:45:20

Trouble is anti abortion campaigners would reverse that argument by asking why so many pro-abortion campaigners are against the death penalty? They see abortion as a form of state sanctioned murder.

I'm pro abortion rights by the way. Just think that we have to have arguments prepared against these people.

OneMoreChap Tue 20-Nov-12 16:56:41

Trouble is anti abortion campaigners would reverse that argument by asking why so many pro-abortion campaigners are against the death penalty? They see abortion as a form of state sanctioned murder.

Despite having supported Women's Right to Choose for 30+ years, I do have a little sympathy for that view as it goes later stage. All I ever did was point to the alternative.

Forcing women to lose control of their own bodily integrity and bring another potentially unwanted life into the world. Sorry, that trumps all else, I feel.

MrsHoarder Tue 20-Nov-12 16:59:38

asking why so many pro-abortion campaigners are against the death penalty?

That one's easy: I'm in favour of minimising the damage to the lives of all the people alive now. Even murderers because there's a small probability that they are innocent. Plus I don't think the government should leglistate to control our bodies, so no preventing women from seeking an abortion and no killing people.

I don't think we need to prepare to discuss that one in the UK so much though, I thought the death penalty is a settled matter here. Can't see it being reintroduced in my lifetime easily...

mignonette Tue 20-Nov-12 17:02:06

Thank you OneMore for your points- It is hard to not get caught up in the late stage debate. Trouble is these are usually involving women having to make truly heartbreaking decisions about very serious problems concerning mother or child. It is portrayed in a very disingenuous manner by a lot of press inferring that choices to terminate are based upon easily rectified cosmetic or other foetal abnormalities. The reality is usually very different.

To add to the pain of these women and their partners/families by falsely portraying them as being irresponsible or unnecessarily using abortion is heinous.

mignonette Tue 20-Nov-12 17:04:57

We have to be prepared to discuss it because U.S anti abortion groups are infiltrating and funding British groups, building new campaign tactics based upon scaremongering, intimidation, harassment, the disingenuous use of dubiously acquired 'photographs' and they will use that argument over here. Whether or not we have it. They will ask why we banned death penalty but still support abortion.

MrsHoarder Tue 20-Nov-12 17:36:13

I suppose "because we're a civilised first world country" is considered inflammatory too wink

FastidiaBlueberry Tue 20-Nov-12 17:49:38

Yes I agree Mignonette I think a lot of people steer clear of discussing abortion because of the perception of it as distasteful and because so many people feel uncomfortable with it.

The danger with not engaging is that we hand the argument over to the forced-birth supporters and are forced to have it on their terms.

TeiTetua Tue 20-Nov-12 18:09:23

I would always say, "I trust women's individual consciences on this. Don't you?"

MurderOfGoths Tue 20-Nov-12 18:14:57

I mainly use anti-choice, but I think forced-birthers is even more accurate. Though anti-women also fits the bill.

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