Pro-Choice, Period

I talk a lot about abortion on my blog. One of the absolutely most rewarding things about my (unpaid) work on STFU has been the people who’ve written to me saying, “I used to be against abortion, but I’ve been reading your blog and now I understand. I am pro-choice.”

Yay! Another much-needed ally in the battle for women’s rights.

An issue that I’ve seen more and more of lately is women who say, “I would never have an abortion, but I’m pro-choice.” I want to state up front: there is nothing wrong with feeling that way. It is awesome that you support a woman’s* right to choose. And of course, all pro-choicers support YOUR right to choose to keep a pregnancy.

But when you start making that a modifier every time you talk about it, it starts to sound condescending and judgmental. It can come off as, “Well, I support other women’s right to abortion, but *I* would certainly never do anything like that!” It subtly enforces the view that abortion is still this awful, horrible thing that nice girls don’t do; that there is a “good” choice and a “bad” choice, and you would never make the bad one. It can be extra judge-y if you say it around someone who has had or would definitely have an abortion.

A reader sent me a comment saying she thought it was similar to supporting gay rights. She supports gay rights even though she’s straight. I was like, ok, but you don’t tell people, “I support gay marriage, even though I would never do any gay stuff.” Political stances don’t need modifiers.

If you and your friends are having an in-depth discussion about abortion, yes, your personal feelings on it will come up. But every single story about abortion on the Internet doesn’t need a bunch of comments that say, “I’m pro-choice even though I would never have an abortion.”

The key thing is context. For instance, if you’re talking about supporting causes that won’t benefit you – e.g., “I support pro-marijuana legislation even though I don’t smoke pot,” – it’s normal to bring up that you support abortion rights but wouldn’t get one. BUT, in general, you don’t need to stipulate your personal feelings about you personally having an abortion every time abortion comes up.

Allies are important in every issue. Hearing about young men and women who are pro-choice is fantastic. And again, not personally wanting an abortion is a completely valid opinion. But it “others” women who have chosen abortion and adds an unpleasant air of superiority to the tone of a conversation.

We’re never going to pass a law that says, “Abortion is safe, legal and available to all uterus owners, but women who don’t want one don’t have to get one.” That is implied. No one has to have an abortion. Your personal feelings are just that: yours, and personal. No one’s keeping tabs on who says, “But I would never have one!” You are pro-choice, or you aren’t.

I am pro-choice. Period.

*Edit: and all persons with uteruses. Women aren’t the only ones who get abortions.

By STFUConservatives

Jess, the mastermind behind STFU Conservatives, is a bike-riding hippie liberal who lives in West Hollywood. Her favorite political issues are abortion, marijuana, health care, and class issues. Her favorite apolitical topics of conversation include small dogs, Diet Coke, and extensive TV viewing.

5 replies on “Pro-Choice, Period”

I think another key point about being pro-choice is that if you support abortion rights for all women, you need to be pro-choice All The Time. On the other LB-that-must-not-be-named, there were a lot of commenters on a few posts where women had abortions that some people felt were inappropriate; I think one woman already had a few kids and was pregnant with twins and aborted one of them or something.
Suddenly there was a lot of “I’m pro-choice but I’m really uncomfortable with this and I’m not sure I support this woman’s choice.”

I think often people forget that being pro-choice means that there is no ‘but’ and it’s not about you; it’s about securing the right to abortion for all women and letting them make their own decisions about their own uteri–whether or not you think that you would make that decision in their place.

I don’t know if it’s getting more interested in women’s rights or what, but I just had the realization on Tuesday that I most likely have been pro-choice for a while without realizing it. I think it’s been a slow process, which also included these decisions being faced by friends in different situations, neither of which were any of the extremes of rape or poverty, etc. It’s weird coming to that realization after it’s already happened, gradually, and I think I’m still coming to terms with it, not because it’s bad or good – just weird realizing you think something different than you thought you did.

Yes. I will say though, I think a more apt comparison than saying “I’m straight, but I support gay rights” would be saying “I think what gay people do is weird, but I support their rights.” I think in some ways social conservatives need to hear that it’s unacceptable for anyone, even straight people, to oppose gay rights. I get your point and don’t like the addition of a disclaimer to political stances, but if the person’s intent is to let their parents/Republican neighbors/homophobic acquaintances know that gay rights is an issue for everyone (rather than implying that being gay is icky), I don’t take offense to that particular “but.”

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