Sunday, May 31, 2009


This morning I heard about the murder of Dr. Tiller on NPR, and I've been thinking about it, off and on, in the back of my head, all day. I know a lot has already been written on this topic, so I'll just say this. Every time this murder has returned to my thoughts today it occurs to me again how profoundly wrong the label "pro-life" is. I realize that most people in the anti-abortion camp would never stoop to this kind of violence, or even approve of it. And I acknowledge that they are not a monolithic group. However, I have yet to meet a person who labels themselves "pro-life" who's opposed to the death penalty, or the war in Iraq, for that matter. How does that stance earn you the label of pro-life, for crying out loud? And beyond that, if you're anti-homeless-people and anti-welfare and anti-universal-healthcare and anti-compassion-in-general, then you are not pro-life. Period.


  1. That's why we use the term "anti-choice" because it's not about life.

  2. Right, I think as feminists we correctly use "anti-choice" or "anti-abortion," but almost all of the news stories on this retained the "pro-life" label for the assassin, which is appalling to me! And I think it shows that the anti-choice camp still has a great deal of control over the rhetoric in this area. As we say in philosophy, if you define the terms of the debate, you control the debate. To some extent, anyway.

  3. Meg'n6/02/2009

    I noticed that too! Even Rachel Maddow was using "pro-life" throughout most of her coverage of the story last night.

  4. Wow, Maddow was? That's surprising. I got all wrapped up in a book and cup of coffee last night once the toddler was in bed and forgot to watch Maddow. Shockingly retro, I know.

  5. I am pro-life, anti-death penalty, anti-war and pro-welfare. I'm also not anti-homeless-person. I've been homeless before and was actually currently living without running water for a month, just finally got it turned back on - yay! I have to add, I've also had an abortion before, one of the choices I'm saddest about in my life, and I don't feel guilty about it, per say, I just didn't know that it was OK to trust and say yes to life at that time. And while I'm pro-life personally, I don't mind or judge other women for having abortions, or even think it should be illegal. Im a libertarian and don't think the government has any business legislating morality. I just think it's an extremely sad part of life on this earth, and I wish more women realized how negative it is, spiritually, and how degrading to their femininity, and how self-esteem lowering it is. Most women, unfortunately, are really disconnected from these aspects of themselves because of the current state of our society. Anyway, nice post, and I just wanted to put out that we pro-life, anti-death penalty people do indeed exist, lol....

    1. Thanks for your comment. I guess I do realize that there are those who are both anti-abortion and anti-death penalty, etc. But I think this is quite rare, and the majority of anti-abortion individuals take a socially conservative stance which includes being pro-death penalty etc.

      As to your comment about how having an abortion impacts a woman... I think there's a great deal of variety in how it impacts individuals, and this depends to a great extent on what their attitude toward abortion is, which is in turn deeply impacted by our discourse about it. If you've spent most of your life hearing abortion referred to as murder, you most likely will have immense feelings of guilt and regret if you need to terminate a pregnancy. However, there are many, many women (myself included) who have terminated pregnancies and not experienced the things you describe. I also think there's a significant difference between experiencing regret that you are not currently in a place in your life where you can responsibly have a child, and feeling guilty or degraded by the experience. I do think it's something that should be taken seriously and approached with a thoughtful and open mindset. I also think that birth control and reproductive choice in general should be taken seriously and approached with a thoughtful and open mindset.