Let’s Talk About What Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Mean

I’m growing a little weary and frustrated at this perception by those who hold themselves out to be “pro-life” that those of us who are pro-choice are somehow morally inferior, and that “pro-choice” can pretty much be interchangeable with “pro-abortion.”

Being “pro-life” does not exist in a vacuum; being pro-choice certainly does not exclude choosing life.  There are many, many, many people who hold themselves out to be staunchly pro-choice (like me) who value life – yes, even life of the unborn – who might never choose abortion for themselves.  I don’t “choose choice over life”; it is entirely possible to be in favor of both choice and life.

It’s about believing in everyone’s fundamental right to choose for themselves.  It’s about believing that every woman deserves to have control over her body, over the decisions that concern her body.  Am I in favor of every choice people make?  No.  Some choices people make, and the reasons behind those choices, make me absolutely heartsick.

Being pro-choice means understanding that I don’t walk in anyone’s shoes but my own.  It means that I understand that I have no right to impose my beliefs on somebody else when I cannot possibly know their life circumstances, their values, their mental or emotional or financial state – and I have no right to hold my values out to be superior to theirs.

God is pro-choice, Baby.  If you’re inclined to believe in God, that is (and if you’re pro-life, I’m thinking this is a pretty good assumption).  That’s what the all-important free will is – choice.  Even God’s not willing to take that away.

All I can hope for as someone who is pro-choice is that people make their choices based on good information.

But they don’t always.  I know that.

If I can help to change misconceptions that often lead to choices that might have been different?  I’m all for that.  That’s advocacy.

As for being pro-life: it shouldn’t stop at being against abortion.  As one of my favorite bloggers wrote:

“To me, being prolife means you ‘do things to give a person all the life to which he or she is entitled.'”

It means supporting programs that will help all those babies you don’t want to see aborted actually live healthy, quality lives.  It means putting your money where your mouth is.  It might even mean considering adopting one of those babies you don’t want to see aborted.

Otherwise, it’s just lip service.


10 Comments on “Let’s Talk About What Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Mean”

  1. mkowalewski
    March 11, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Lisa – I love this post. I wish that more people on both sides would realize what you said. I’m adamantly pro-choice and the first of my pregnancies was unexpected in the sense that we weren’t being careful but weren’t planning to get pregnant. I chose life. If I found I was pregnant with a child with down’s or another issue, I would choose life. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not prochoice. I think that the key word there i choice. For a couple of reasons: we have free will. My circumstances aren’t the same as another person’s circumstances and I don’t know what is going on in their lives.

    And I find it hypocritical and offensive to some degree when those that ARE pro-life are the same ones that won’t put their money where their mouth is. They want to cut programs to parents who need it at the same time that they don’t want to support birth control and want to force giving birth. Whatever.

  2. Holly F.
    March 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Well said. I hate saying that I am pro-choice because so quickly, I’m judged as pro-death or even pro-abortion.

    Perhaps the better terms would be Pro-Keeping Abortion Legal and Pro-Banning Abortion. Too wordy of course but more accurate.

  3. TUC
    March 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    Too bad there isn’t a label that means pro-choice and pro-life.

    Of course you know that being pro-choice (which I am to a degree) means you stand by while other women choose to kill their fetuses… So that is why some people see it as choosing choice over life… because you choose to use your vote, your power not to stop death. I think the pro-life people would say they speak for the fetuses who cannot exercise their choices.

    Anyway, you touched on my favorite ways to end abortion… provide resources and adopt babies 🙂

  4. Alyson
    March 12, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    I completely agree with your point of ” putting your money where your mouth is”. So many people I know that consider themselves to be pro life are also the same people who want to cut every social service program out there. Children don’t get to choose what kind of life they are born into. I am very pro choice to the point where I have accompanied friends as emotional support when they chose to have an abortion. I personally couldn’t imagine having an abortion but I refuse to judge others. More importantly I don’t want anyone,especially the government telling me what to do with my body.

  5. Marisa
    March 12, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    I believe that everyone women has a right to make their own decision. Whether there abortion is from a unplanned pregnancy, whether they where rapped, have been informed that they have a child with a major disability. Do I personal think it is right or wrong? No because I am not that person. And no one is superior enough to judge anyone else. Everyone has their opinion which is great, but to judge someone who has made a decision that you may not agree with does not make them bad. No matter how informed people are it is whether they want to follow that path. I remember when I was dating, I didn’t want to date anyone with children. I didn’t want the baggage of the spouse.. I see nothing wrong with that, I was being honest and for honesty is the best policy…

  6. Stacey
    March 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Very well said! I have had the same argument with my “Christian” sister & SIL many times. Both of them would love to take away my right to decide how many children I can handle, or when & with whom I wanted to bring children into my life, but neither want to support government social programs, neither of them have adopted or plan to adopt. Hypocrites, I say.

  7. Cheryl Tierney Kinne
    March 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Very well put, people are often surprised when I say I am pro-choice. People seem to assume that because my son has DS is that I must be “pro-life” too. The thought of taking away a woman’s right to control her body is so scary to me. There are reasons some people choose not to have their babies, and I can’t judge their situations. What about rape, pregnant children, moms with medical risks? should these women be forced to have children? The point about “putting your money where your mouth is”, is so true. Maybe if there was support available, education, financial assistance, and people to adopt these children we could actually help women and lower abortion rates. Of course, I do wish women pregnant with DS babies could meet my adorable son and ask me about him before deciding they can’t handle it.

  8. Tegan
    June 5, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    Thank you for writing this. The pro-choice community doesn’t always have such strong voices on the issue from parents, so I really appreciated reading this.

  9. Kim Singleton
    June 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Thank you. All of you have put into words the way I have felt for years. I have a now 21 year old son, who we adopted and who has rather severe learning disabilities. It has been a long and often frustrating journey in raising him. I am glad that his birth mother surrendered him. She
    obviously, for whatever reasons did not opt for abortion and she didn’t opt for raising this child in a home that may or may not have been equipped to raise him. Here we are now, 21 years later. She was able to make her own decision and we were able to raise our son.For whatever reasons she gave up this child she could make her own choice and I thank her for that.

  10. ItsAboutLife
    October 14, 2012 at 4:26 am #

    Hello and thank you for allowing a venue to voice one’s opinion in an open environment.

    I read your comments here and can see how being “ProChoice” can be mistaken as “ProAbortion”. But I agree with you, ProChoice people often.. probably most of the time hate abortion. Good ! Glad that is true! But what I still don’t understand is if they hate abortion, why still allow it to occur?

    I disagree with a few key things here.
    By being prochoice… you are ok with allowing abortion to be accessible but of course, you, in fact, would never chose that as an option for yourself. You maintain that you can never know someone’s situation and if a person thinks abortion is the best answer, it is their right to do so, the end. So, ProChoice people are all about rights and all about not telling a woman what she can and cannot do to her body. So, its all about rights and not controlling anyone. But this prochoice view is a contradiction. What about the rights of the baby? What about the baby’s body? The answer is, they are overridden by the freedom to exercise a right. Can’t you see this view devalues the baby’s life? What is more valuable than life??? A freedom or a right to make a decision?

    Is it that you don’t think a baby in the womb is in fact a person or a life? Just a huge ball of cells, huh? (I know you didn’t mention this, but that is the view of many ProChoice people). What I find interesting about this is that in abortion, you can kill your baby if you want to.
    But, if I accidentally run over a pregnant woman, I get charged for involuntary manslaughter for TWO people: Mother and Baby. So, in that case, the law says the ball of cells IS a person.

    And giving people the option to take a life is too much power. As more and more people tolerate abortion… the regulations become more and more liberal. The value of an unborn life and life in general decreases. Its a slippery slope. The elderly and disabled could be next on the list to go. I’m at a job that serves the elderly, and I already see it in people faces and words… and it breaks my heart. The point I’m trying to make is that every life is valuable. We’re all just at different stages of life. Time is the only differing factor. Who cares if I’m outside or inside the womb.. its still a life. it doesn’t matter what stage we’re at….all life is valuable and should not be degraded. I’d say that life is the most valuable thing in this life. So why say having a choice to exercise a right is more valuable than a life?

    You touched on God. I don’t see the logic here. “God is Prochoice , baby”? God is “prochoice” in the sense that he gave us free will. Amen to free will! But doesn’t one of his laws say to not kill? He didn’t say I’ll give you a choice to kill or not to kill. He gave us the ability to make a choice, but it better be the right choice.
    But I don’t want to keep God in this discussion too long because people don’t like that. Although I am a believer, I would have the same view if I was an atheist. Abortion is inhumane… against humanity.

    Lets not forget about the effects of abortion. There are many many women who regret everyday that they had an abortion. I suppose that doesn’t go for every woman, but many have major issues. Abortion only causes more problems than it supposedly solves.

    And again… I know you’re probably shaking your head thnking “I said I AM against abortion for myself! I don’t like abortion! But I just can’t tell other people what to do.” But don’t you see, it bigger than that??1! Why be so “P.C.” about everything.. especially when it comes down to the core of LIFE???? You have to agree that at some point… at SOME point.. that people have to be told what they can and cannot do. If everyone had total freedom, there would be chaos… as lots of people would make poor choices.. “Oh, but its their right to make whatever choice they want”….. sigh…. not always!

    ProLifers don’t care about controlling women’s bodies. Or taking away anyone’s rights. All they are doing is being an advocate for the person who cannot voice their opinion yet. They are saying “Please please please allow this baby to live because NOTHING trumps the value of Life.”.

    I know you see all the wrong involved in abortion. That is why you say you’d never pick that option for yourself. So, why not choose to get rid of abortion?? You already think its horrible… wouldn’t it be horrible for everybody else then? Just think about that. Wouldn’t taking the option away or the ability of someone to make a poor choice be a GOOD thing?

    I’ll just never understand how people hold this type of prochoice view.
    By me accepting every life… by me loving every life.. by me not wanting to ever kill a life …. by me doing everything in my power to let ALL life have a chance… by me realizing that nothing trumps the valuable of any human life…NOT MATTER WHAT STAGE OF DEVELOPEMENT IT IS AT…. I am being more open and more “P.C.” than any “open-minded ProChoice” supporter.

    Look… I know you value life. Obviously, because you have a BEAUTIFUL family!!
    But please realize that people should not have the ability to play God and take the life of their baby. That is one freedom that we should not have. The freedom to take a life that has already been born is non-existant and is against the law, of course. So, why not prohibit people from taking the life of the unborn? You’re not imposing on people’s rights! You’re maintaining the value of Life by not allowing anything to destroy it. People have taken this step before in history. Abolishing slavery is an example. By doing that they were saying that all life is of equal value! Obviously, you’d never chose to have a slave, but no one else has that right either. In that sense, the two issues are similar.

    I just don’t understand why you want to fight so badly to uphold someone’s right to kill their baby if they want too. Poor innocent babies. The womb is a dangerous place to be!!!

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