As I’ve noted before, my prefered terms in the abortion debate are pro-abortion and anti-abortion. Over the past generation, the two sides have adopted the terms pro-choice and pro-life. More recently we have seen people attempt to distinguish between pro-abortion and pro-choice and likewise anti-abortion and pro-life. I’ve generally tried to stay out of these debates, because I think they are unproductive.
When someone states they are pro-choice, they aren’t saying that they are compelled to tolerate abortion because of their libertarian ideals. Well, I suppose libertarian ideals could be behind their position, but it isn’t the reason they describe themselves as pro-choice. On the pro-life side, the argument is that “I’m not just anti-abortion.” A secondary issue often listed is euthanasia. However if we had two candidates, one supportive of abortion and the other supportive of euthanasia, we would not (likely) see “pro-life” advocates claiming the pro-abortion candidate would be preferred, despite the issue in greatest flux right now has to do with end of life decisions. While some may claim “neither” is a good choice (as if the choices before us are ever “good”) the point is that pro-life is clearly understood to denote a position with abortion at its core. So in short, I do think the whole matter is a semantic game.
What has had some popularity, including in the pages of L’Observatorio Romano, is the idea that no one is really pro-abortion. In the American context, this is plain nonsense. It creates a straw man pro-abortion position to make a pro-choice position appear more reasonable. Pro-choice rhetoric about allowing a mother to have dominion over her reproductive choices may be a moderate position and even laudable in a place like China, but it isn’t here. And if words are going to mean anything, there is no foundation for calling one’s support of abortion tepid when one supports abortion in the 2nd and 3rd trimester without cause (like fetal abnormality, health of the mother, etc.) Part of an honest dialogue on abortion must begin with being honest about our respective positions. If you support unrestricted abortion up through birth, you aren’t conflicted about the rights of the child/fetus. I should add that this is why I’ve been quiet about efforts to engage President Obama over the issue. To make a long story short, I don’t think abortion reduction will be achieved by efforts at delaying family formation.My position on abortion is quite simple. I believe abortion is a criminal offense. I believe the criminal actors are the mother, doctor, and anyone that contributes materially and formally, e.g. a boyfriend that pays for the abortion. People occasionally get confused over my position, because I didn’t see it as an important issue in the last presidential election. For those unclear, hopefully that is plain enough. There are some that believe we need to wait until society opposes abortion until we can bring laws against abortion and until such time abortion shouldn’t be politically opposed. I find that position untenable, particularly if that view is held in principle. Practically, I do believe greater consideration needs to be given to those political decisions likely to be approved and persist. So, I am likely to not give significantly greater consideration to a person that supports the Human Life Amendment over a person that just supports banning 3rd trimester abortions. I’m not suggesting anti-abortion groups draw the line where I draw it, but I do think in places like New York and California, the greatest threats are conscience protections being respected, and our efforts are wasted in those places focusing on 1st trimester abortions. On the other hand, it would be nice to get constitutional protections in places like South Dakota and Utah, places where there is a reasonable chance for success with a reasonably well run campaign.