The recent Susan G. Komen v. Planned Parenthood debacle got me thinking about the whole issue of pro-choice and pro-life all over again. Like many unapologetic pro-choicers, I have a deep-seated loathing of the term “pro-life.” Because my belief opposes theirs, does that make me “anti-life” or maybe “pro-death”? Yes, I’m pro-choice, but to me, that’s really a way of expressing my pro-life views.
There are a lot of things that make me pro-life: I’m pro living a responsible life. I’m pro letting women make the decisions they need to live the life they want. I’m pro women’s health. I’m pro babies’ health. I’m pro living life fully.
My views on the legality and availability of abortion are an extension of my respect for life—the life of human beings who actually have an existence outside of the womb. Abortion is one of the health services some women need to live their lives. Sometimes, they literally need it to stay alive. At other times, they need it in order to live the life they want, to be the mother their children need, or to be the best mother possible a few years down the line, or to support themselves and their families.
The discussion about reproductive rights has largely been hijacked by the right and, thus, anti-abortion activists became pro-lifers. However, it’s been shown over and over again how the “pro-life” organizations lose interest in the lives they fought so hard to save once the fetus is actually a babe in arms.
The 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller, the medical director of a Wichita, Kansas, based women’s clinic that performed abortions, is horrible evidence of some people’s willingness to kill in the name of their “pro-life” views.
Which brings me to my next point: poverty. The same people who claim to be pro-life want to cut the budget’s social spending, which goes to support those in need, including children. In fact, nearly 15 million children in the United States—or just over a fifth (21%) of all children—live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level.
Take Texas for example, which has a history of very loud “pro-life” politicians. Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, opposes abortion even if it is the result of rape and incest. He’s willing to allow women on whom awful crimes were committed to give birth to the children of their offenders, so that surely means the general welfare of children is high on his priority list, right? Wrong! If you take a closer look, you’ll see that according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 24% (1,641,034) of children in Texas live in poverty, which is more than the national average.
The crux of the issue is that a lot of so-called pro-life activists don’t seem to care about much more than curtailing reproductive rights. The only life they care about is that of the fetus. Once the child is born, their interest disappears—just like it does in regards to the welfare of a pregnant woman and her family.
Personally, I hate the fact that “pro-life” activists get to use that term. I feel it’s an awful misnomer. I’m whole-heartedly pro-life, but can’t call myself that lest I get confused with people who usurp the right to make important life decisions for others (because that’s what an abortion ultimately is). I think it’s about time to stop doing these guys a favor and start (or, rather, go back to) calling them what they really are: anti-abortionists.
Maria M. Pawlowska is a healthcare analyst with a passion for reproductive health and gender issues. Her articles on different aspects of reproductive and women’s rights have been published by The Maternal Health Task Force, RH Reality Check, HealthyPolicies, The European Pro-Choice Network, and The Good Men Project, among others. Maria currently lives in London with her husband. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on Twitter at @MariaPawlowska.