A few weeks back Planned Parenthood made the announcement that they will be abandoning the labels of “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” in hopes of reaching more women who do not identify as “pro-choice” but still support and need their services. A study found that 35% of voters who identified as pro-life also said they didn’t think Roe v. Wade should be overturned. In another, 12% of online survey takers said they were both pro-life and pro-choice, while another 12% didn’t want to use those terms, and 40% said “it depends on the situation” when asked about their moral opinions on abortion. Basically, these labels are both limiting and confusing and are doing no favors to anyone involved in this “battle.”
The reality is that while everyone hates the war, it’s the only thing most people know. Everyone feels obligated to be true to one side when abortion is too complicated of an issue to make so black and white. Pro-choice can often sound frivolous, as if the choice women make is simple and easy. And pro-life, while it sounds noble, can seem crass towards women. This makes it hard to talk about because committing to one side automatically makes you against something. But the thing is, pro-choice people aren’t anti-life and pro-life people aren’t anti-women. Many people don’t use the words pro-choice, but wouldn’t necessarily identify as pro-life either. And in the end everyone just wants to do the right thing.
When it comes down to it, abortion is a personal matter and we may not know a woman’s specific situation. Women don’t look to politicians for advice about mammograms or prenatal care. Why should they have the right to be involved in any woman’s personal medical decisions. Politicians don’t want a dialogue, they want to win. There is a fundamental mistrust in which neither side is willing to compromise because they are afraid that if they give a little it will ultimately cost them the entire war. We are never going to be able to arrive at one solution, but that shouldn’t negatively affect us. We must realize that abortion is a complicated issue and handle it accordingly.
The way I see it, if Roe vs Wade were to be overturned, as many pro-life people suggest, we may result in a bigger problem. There may be more unsafe abortions because people will be doing them illegally. This is dangerous and would essentially defeat the purpose. From the polls done by Planned Parenthood is can be said majority of Americans believe abortion should remain safe and legal. This is a conflict value decision that should ultimately be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor or healthcare provider.
So what can the rest of do to fix this problem? Talk about it. Have a different conversation. Like I said, we all just want to do the right thing. Don’t feel obligated to take one side; we as a society should feel obligated to present the best option available for everyone. We should start looking more into why someone may want to get an abortion and see what can be done to avoid unintended pregnancies. A few potential policy changes could be more emphasis on and access to contraceptives or better health care so people don’t feel stuck with ultimatums.
So the next time you talk about abortion, don’t let the labels box you in. Have conversation that doesn’t divide you, but is based on mutual respect and empathy.