Pro-life: n. code word for (usually) Christian conservatives meaning that you oppose abortion.
Mike Huckabee called me the other night. Well, Mike, the former gov of Arkansas, former fattie, former presidential candidate and current talk show host (of course… what better way to stay in the public eye in preparation for his next run) didn’t actually call me in person; his robot did.
“Hi,” said his computer voice, “this is Governor Mike Huckabee – I want to ask you a couple of questions… Did you vote in the last election?”
Since I always want to hear what Republicans are currently spinning, and because it’s true, I said yes.
“Do you consider yourself pro-life?” Huckabee’s voice asked.
Now this stumped me for a minute, because I’m “pro” lots of things. I mean who wouldn’t be pro “LIFE”? It’s better than the alternative, as Woody Allen once said.
Framing the anti-abortion movement as being “pro-life” was a stroke of linguistic genius because the most natural oppositional phrases are “pro-death”, “anti-life” or “pro-abortion” – all of which sound bad, even though none of them are accurate descriptions of those who believe women have the right to choose whether to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or not.
Planned Parenthood used to have a brilliant slogan: “Every child a wanted child.” It conveys the heart of the matter: a woman should be able to control her own fertility because who knows better her ability to bear, love and raise that child? No child should have to bear the burden of being born to someone who doesn’t want him. God knows, in this world a kid has a hard enough time getting the love, support, health care and education he deserves being raised by parents who wanted him. Unfortunately every community around the world has growing populations of homeless men, women and children who lacked that nurturance.
Anyway, back to Mike and me.
He took my stammering for a YES and plunged on with the true purpose of his call – to pass along the scary lie that Obama’s top priority was to pass a law to make it possible for anyone to perform an abortion on any woman anywhere anytime. Now, if I had known Mike was going to call with such a load of codswallop, I’d have figured out how to record the call so I could quote him exactly and could parse the statement phrase by phrase…
The message was paid for by Americans United for Life, but I believe he’s done various versions of the message for other pro-life groups as well. They are nothing if not well organized and well-funded.
I totally deplore fear-mongering as a persuasion technique – and the Right specializes in it – that and reducing the issue to its most simplistic even if the truth must be twisted or ignored to get there. Those of us on the left have a greater interest in facts , even if they’re messy and complex to communicate.
So back to “pro-life”.
Our standard catch phrase response is “pro-choice”, which, though truthful, lacks the emotional impact of “pro-life.” We are certainly not “pro-abortion”; we’d much prefer the pregnancy be avoided thru the use of contraceptives. But contraception can fail and women do get raped.
Some of us believe we could call the pro-lifers “pro-fetus, anti-child,” because once the child is born conservative ideology says taxpayers shouldn’t have to support “welfare mothers” who can’t make ends meet raising kids alone.
We could also call them the “forced pregnancy” squad.
My own definition of pro-life means we respect the mother’s right to choose to give life or not. And if she does, we as a society are there to help her succeed as a parent and to help her child grow up to be a healthy, responsible, educated and contributing member of society.