Which side of the debate do you fall on?
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Today’s politics are filled with binaries. You’re either for something or against it, and there are plenty of things to be for or against in this day and age. One of the most polarizing political talking points is the pro-life/pro-choice debate. Now unfortunately there’s been so much mud-slinging on both sides that the actual message behind each side had become extremely distorted. Pro-choicers are portrayed as baby killing feminazis while pro-lifers are generalized as out of touch, Bible-toting hillbillies. When the popular image of both sides is so negative, it becomes difficult to openly stand for anything. Let’s be honest, it’s not exactly easy to educate yourself about politics. It requires a lot of research to confidently proclaim yourself pro anything, and nowadays it’s even more difficult because of all the people out there who have become overly sensitive due to their ability to complain about anything and find support and attention over the Internet. You shouldn’t let this deter you, though; being knowledgeable about the world around you and standing behind your own beliefs in the face of opposition will always be essential to living a fulfilling and happy life.
Recently, I’ve noticed people I’ve encountered, as well as people in the media such as celebrities, confusing the two terms—i.e., claiming themselves to be pro-life and then directly contradicting themselves—because of the confusion surrounding the two moral stances. In order to dismiss this, I will attempt to clarify what each term means by breaking them down to their most essential and basic points.
I would probably be remiss if I didn’t preface this by stating my own political views. I am pro-choice, though I believe in each person’s ability to make their own moral decisions, and respect those that do. I am not against people that believe in pro-life, I just simply don’t agree with them. It is my intention to portray each term in a just and fair way, and allow people to make their own decision regarding which side of the debate they fall on.
Beginning with pro-life, I have noticed that there is a stigma surrounding this stance that it is anti-feminist, and that is simply not true. You can be a feminist and believe in pro-life. The root of this stance is in religion, but that doesn’t mean you have to be religious in order to support it. At its core, what side you fall on depends on when you believe the fetus’ soul/consciousness emerges. Pro-lifers believe that a child comes into “being” the moment it is conceived, and having an abortion is therefore murder. If the pregnancy is unwanted, they advocate adoption as an alternative. They do not believe in removing a woman’s right to choose whether they have to raise the child or not, as some would have you believe. I think the problem here is that this stance has been taken up as a means of fear-mongering, that if you get pregnant you will be stuck with a child, and if you put it up for adoption you’ll be abandoning it, and if you get an abortion you’ll be a murderer. All of that is just moral propaganda used to scare people into not having sex before marriage and has no factual basis in the debate at hand.
Pro-choicers believe that a child doesn’t come into being the moment it is conceived, but rather at a particular milestone. When it is actually varies depending on who you talk to. Some believe it is when the fetus begins moving, others believe it’s when the child has its own heartbeat. The root of this particular moral stance lies in feminism, because it is based on the belief that a woman should have agency over her own body. Pregnancy is difficult, and dangerous even with modern medicine, so it should be up to the woman whether or not she decides to put her body through that. Where it gets murky, and here’s where people get confused, is that pro-choice from a political standpoint means just that—that you should be able to choose. If you believe that you personally would never have an abortion, but that other women can do whatever they feel necessary, you are still pro-choice. If you believe that the man responsible should also be consulted before a decision is reached, you are still pro-choice.
Where the two sides are divided politically is in the execution of those beliefs. Currently, we are a pro-choice society because we leave the decision of whether or not to have an abortion to the women it affects. In a pro-life society, abortion would not be an option or it would be illegal. Pro-life removes the decision altogether, while pro-choice leaves it as a personal choice.