Pro-brevity & pro-parity

In “Finding a way to tick off both camps in the abortion wars,” Terry writes:

There were two ways to fix this. A few magazines let each side define itself, with the terms usually printed in quotation marks to show that they were biased — “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” Notice that neither term included the actual issue being debated, which was abortion. Thus, most newspapers elected to make both sides mad by replacing their chosen labels with more literal terms — “pro-abortion rights” and “anti-abortion.” This was and is an imperfect solution, but at least it’s balanced and accurate.

It was not only an imperfect solution, I think, but also less balanced than pro-choice and pro-life.

The prevailing style assumes the two camps are debating two separate issues: abortion rights versus abortion itself. It also grants one side the enviable “pro” label and condemns the other to being “anti.”

At Christianity Today we use pro-choice and pro-life — without the skeptical quote marks, thank you. This style choice:

• Allows both sides to define themselves.

• Recognizes what is most important to both sides (pro-choicers say a woman’s freedom trumps any fetal life; pro-lifers say fetal life trumps a woman’s freedom).

• Treats most readers as adults who can discern that the terms refer to the debate about abortion and not to the debate about, oh, school vouchers.

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