Part 1 of this post reviewed my journey from pro-life to pro-choice. Part 2 aims to dissect language used by the pro-life movement that I think is misleading.
The blog posts on this topic have not been easy for me to write. The previous post went through multiple edits and re-writings before I published it. This one is starting out sort of slow. I find it an emotional topic, and I remember that, growing up with pro-life parents in a pro-life church, all the talk was emotion-charged. I wonder if that is what is triggering the sadness and heaviness I feel as I write this.
Using phrases such as “killing babies” or “aborted children,” showing images of fetuses that resemble a newborn, talking about moments of silence or God crying. These phrases are meant to stir up emotion, not present a reasonable argument. Now, some pro-choice arguments are emotional appeals as well – mostly calling for sympathy for the women in this situation. But I believe that more facts are on the side of pro-choice: that legalizing abortion does not change abortion rates, but makes it safer for women; that increasing availability of birth control decreases abortion rates; that many women do not regret getting an abortion. (Please see the previous post for more sources, or read this post from Love, Joy, Feminism).
In preparation for this post, I’ve been looking for some arguments from the pro-life side. So far, I have found a lot of this emotion-charged language. The use of phrases like “aborted children” is misleading because a child is not killed; a potential life is stopped. All the eggs that remain in my body are potential lives, but I do not feel sadness when they pass each month. I don’t think men feel sad about their sperm that does not turn into a child. Even when the egg and sperm join, many times they naturally do not implant on the uterus, and then a potential life does not become a life. Many women miscarry and either know it or don’t, and a potential life does not become a life. There’s one thing I want to make clear at this point: It is devastating to families who want a child when they miscarry because the hope of that child is gone. It is a real loss of something you hoped for, and I never want to make light of that or dismiss it as “just a potential life.” There certainly is power in potential and in hope, and the loss of that makes a person grieve in a very real way. But for someone who does not hope for a child, the potential life brings sadness, confusion, and misery.
The other thing I have found in reading what pro-life people have to say is attacks on Planned Parenthood or abortion providers. These attacks are also charged with emotional language and phrases that are untrue. I read an article from Focus on the Family here that a family member recently posted to facebook. The article is about the video that recently was released showing a Planned Parenthood doctor describing how they get and send organs and organ tissue to medical researchers, and Planned Parenthood gets financial compensation for the costs of getting the tissue and sending it intact to researchers so that, you know, the researchers can actually use the tissue to improve our lives. Yes, there is cost involved in this, and yes, researchers reimburse that cost so that, you know, Planned Parenthood can continue paying its doctors and staff. But the article says the doctor is “describing how the organization sells the body parts of aborted preborn babies.”
Sells the body parts of aborted preborn babies. Right there, the first sentence of the article is stretching the truth and using emotional language to stir up a reaction. Selling body parts? NO. “Selling” implies that they are doing this for a profit. From what I have found, PP does not sell, but does get financial reimbursement for the cost of these procedures. There is a huge difference between gaining a profit and getting reimbursed. Then there’s the phrase “aborted preborn babies.” Not fetal tissue, not even aborted fetus. Now it’s a preborn baby, a phrase meant to stir up emotions that would come if we thought of something happening to a newborn baby.
The article goes on to talk about how PP gains a profit from this (which is a lie), about harvesting organs, and other lies (mostly lying about how PP makes a profit from this; I am so tired of hearing it) and stretches of truth. And then there’s this quote:
“And so it is that in addition to preying on desperate women and taking the lives of innocent babies, Planned Parenthood drives human trafficking.”
No. No no no no. This trivializes real human trafficking which is a real problem in the world. Also, the use of the organs and tissue for research is something the woman has a choice over, and is not pressured to do – the woman has to sign a consent form to have the organs and tissue used, and does not gain any financial profit from this (unlike people who sell their organs in trafficking situations) and Planned Parenthood, need I say it again, does not gain a profit from this. As far as “preying on desperate women” goes, as far as I know PP isn’t stalking pregnant women and coercing them to do something they don’t want.
At this point, I have spent a few days on this and am running out of steam. Suffice it to say that, if there are arguments out there that are not appeals to emotion, or lies and distortions of facts, or comparisons to events like adults and children dying, or talking about God and souls, I’d be interested to hear them. But for now I just haven’t heard much that I can begin to take seriously.