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Anti-Abortion vs. Pro-Life

There is a great deal of debate not only over the subject of abortion, but also the terminology used to discuss the subject. I use the term "anti-abortion", rather than the more generally preferred term "pro-life", to refer to people or positions that oppose abortion, as I do. This is not because I prefer the term -- I don't. I would much prefer to describe myself as "pro-life". And I certainly encourage all people and organizations who are working to end abortion to adopt a consistently "pro-life" attitude. (When is the last time you raised your voice to protest the U.S. aggression that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, mostly Iraqi, since we launched an unprovoked attack on Iraq?) However, there are a number of problems that arise when we use such terminology.

First of all, the term is not necessarily accurate. Although it is correct with respect to the issue of abortion, it is not correct to claim that a person is pro-life based solely on his or her position on this one issue. People who oppose abortion can be very "anti-life" when it comes to other issues, such as war, capital punishment, welfare, health care, etc., and pro-abortionists are quick to point this out. They will take advantage of this to claim that we are not truly pro-life. We should not give them the opportunity to do this. They can "muddy the water" by claiming that we are not truly pro-life, but they cannot claim that we are not anti-abortion. This leaves them to have to argue the facts of abortion, rather than the terminology we are using.

Then, my directory is about abortion only. It doesn't matter what a person thinks about capital punishment, assisted suicide, views regarding the wars we are involved in, or any other issue that might have a "pro-life" or "anti-life" side to it. If your organization is working to end abortion it belongs in the directory, regardless of whether it is "pro-life" in any other sense. Being in this directory should not imply that you have any particular position on any issue other than abortion.

Also, using objective, non-arguable terms will help people to understand that we are indeed taking the rational point of view. I want people to know that my views are based on objective observation of the facts. We don't need to appeal to other issues. We don't need to fear looking at abortion for what it really is. People can argue about "life" all day long, but if we simply talk about the matter at hand - abortion - for what it really is we will have much more success. I arrived at my position on abortion by taking an open-minded, objective look at the subject. That is the way it should be presented to others.

And, of course, if we insist on using the term "pro-life", the people with the opposite point of view will insist on using the term "pro-choice", a term which is misleading and misdirects the conversation from the matter of what abortion really is. I am not going to perpetuate their deception by using such a term. If I am going to object to their use of the term "pro-choice", then I have to refrain from using the corresponding term, "pro-life". I am not afraid to discuss the issue for what it really is - abortion.

And, of course, each side is trying to take the "high ground" in using such rhetoric. Instead of appealing to some noble sentiment which may or may not be valid in the eyes of those listening, we should (once again) talk about the issue -- abortion. It is typical in our language to use the "pro-" and "anti-" prefixes to describe the two sides of a controversial issue. I don't need to look for a high ground. We will be much more effective if we simply rely on the facts.

Also, if one side is talking about "life" and the other side is talking about "choice", then we are obviously talking about two different things. We are never going to make any headway in resolving this issue if we are talking about two different things, and we will only serve to confuse those who might be undecided and are listening to us. We need to make it clear to them that we are talking about abortion and are not afraid to do so. If the other side is trying to derail the discussion by avoiding the subject, we need to ask them boldly and clearly, "Why?" We obviously cannot ask them that question if we are doing the same thing ourselves.

Using the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" only serves to offend those on the other side of the issue. I shudder whenever I hear the term "pro-choice", with its clear connotation that I am somehow "anti-choice" or opposed to people being free and able to direct their own lives. (And, of course, and am even more offended when they overtly use the term "anti-choice" as they typically do. Fortunately people on our side are generally more considerate and rarely ever use a term such as "anti-life".) I want the other side to listen to me. Why would I use language designed to offend them, suggesting that they are "anti-life"? Once again, we should stick to the subject and talk directly about abortion.

All these effects keep the two sides fighting, rather than communicating and trying to understand each other. I don't want to fight. I want to engage in open and direct communication which will lead us to deal with this issue in a rational and caring manner.

Many wish to try to keep it positive and avoid any negative terminology. This is a mistake. There is nothing positive about abortion. It is a very violent and horrific act, and our language needs to reflect that. Those who oppose nuclear power are called anti-nuclear. Those who oppose war are called anti-war. If you are against slavery you are anti-slavery. Opposition to racism is called anti-racism. We even use anti-virus and anti-spyware software to keep our computers clean. There is nothing wrong with being anti. We are anti anything that we regard as bad. We are proud to be anti anything as horrible as abortion. I went by the Right to Life booth at the local county fair. Very happy, smiling people, who, among other things were blowing up balloons with "Smile! Jesus Love You" printed on them. That's right - we're killing 3000 children every day so ... "Smile!" Do you think anyone went away from that booth with the realization that there is a horrible, violent, merciless slaughter of innocent children taking place? I doubt it. Abortion is not a positive thing. Our message is not a positive message. We need to be instilling in people the utter horror of mercilessly ripping to pieces little children. It is a horrible, appalling tragedy that is taking place, and we are "anti" it.

I suppose I should add one final point. In order to establish the credibility of my research it is important to establish my objectivity. I will be be talking about facts and any position or idea that I share will be based solidly on facts, not some preconceived ideas of my own. If I use subjective language here, will you have any confidence in the results of my research? You shouldn't! I will rely on objectivity and factuality. I will call a cat a cat, a rock a rock, and abortion, abortion.

Perhaps at some point in time we will come up with better language that both sides can agree on and that will foster communication and understanding. Until that time comes, however, I intend to use, and encourage others to use, the terms "pro-abortion" and "anti-abortion".