By: Kirstie Piper
Pro-life vs pro-choice. You’ve probably heard the two terms used liberally throughout your lifetime. One side seems occupied with women’s rights, while the other is associated with saving babies. The truth is that merely associating one particular subject with each term is inaccurate. In reality, both pro-life and pro-choice motives and objectives are quite complex and diverse. Sadly, both terms are often overly simplified, leaving the one party believing harsh misconceptions about the other.
In this article, we seek to outline and clarify the pro-life and pro-choice stances. We hope to give clear and accurate definitions and examples, equipping you with enough knowledge to make a confident decision when faced with these subjects socially or politically.
Definitions matter. Depending on who you ask, the terms pro-life and pro-choice each have their own diverse and subjective meanings. Merriam-Webster defines them as follows:
Pro-life (adj): opposed to abortion.
Pro-choice (adj): favoring the legalization of abortion.
However, ask any pro-lifer or pro-choicer and you’ll find that these definitions are limited. Both political stances are multifaceted and have evolved over time.
According to Planned Parenthood, a strong pro-choice organization, these terms are defined much differently:
“Generally, people who identify as pro-choice believe that everyone has the basic human right to decide when and whether to have children. When you say you’re pro-choice you’re telling people that you believe it’s OK for them to have the ability to choose abortion as an option for an unplanned pregnancy — even if you wouldn’t choose abortion for yourself.”
Directly below this statement, Planned Parenthood defines pro-life individuals as those who are mostly concerned with the life of the “fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus.”
While the term pro-life was birthed from the abortion wars of the 1970’s, the pro-life movement has grown into a thriving community of those who meet political issues with the mindset that all human life is valuable. Whether you are a preborn baby, a newborn, an elderly person, or someone with disabilities and special needs, your life matters. At it’s core, the pro-life movement is about the value and equality of all human beings. Google search the popular pro-life hashtag #lovethemboth, and the message is clear.
Also, despite being accused of being conservative and religious dogma, the pro-life movement is composed of an incredibly diverse population. The movement includes, but is not limited to, both feminists and atheists.
In short, better definitions of each stance, as they have evolved within culture, are as follows:
Pro-life (adj): the belief that all human life is created equal regardless of size, level of development, education, and degree of dependency. Therefore, taking the life of a preborn baby is a violation of the fundamental right to life.
Pro-choice (adj): the belief that every woman should be endowed with the right to her own life and body. Therefore, denying a woman an abortion is denying her the right to bodily autonomy.
If both pro-life and pro-choice members are fighting for equality, then who’s right? The easiest way to decide where you stand on the issue is by taking the basic arguments of each side, and comparing and contrasting their foundations, motives, and conclusions.
In his video series, “The S.L.E.D. Test,” Scott Klusendorf breaks down the primary arguments surrounding abortion.
Each political stance is riddled with misconceptions. Here are a few to watch out for when conversing with individuals of opposite convictions.
While all pro-lifers tend to be anti-abortion, the term anti-abortion does not define the whole of what it means to be pro-life. One doesn’t have to look very deeply through a pro-life media feed before finding posts tagged with #prolove. This is because the pro-life movement seeks to uplift and value all life.
Rallying against abortion would be much simpler if the pro-choice stance was merely pro-murder. While being pro-choice defends one person’s right to take the life of another, “pro-murder” does not define the whole of what it means to be pro-choice. Being pro-choice is often a result of having extreme compassion on women in difficult situations. Take for example, a woman pregnant from rape or incest, or the mother who has to chose between losing her life or that her child.
This is probably the most disproven claim concerning pro-lifers. In fact, there are over 2,500 PRCSs (pregnancy resource centers) across the United States, most of which provide quality and nonjudgmental services. Some PRC’s even offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.
After consulting scientific evidence, we find that the pro-choice movement is not pro-all women, but pro-certain women. It is easily debatable that pro-choice is entirely pro-woman when the rights of many women are discounted for the rights of others.
This is the worst misconception of all. Many women who make an abortion decision feel as though they have no other choice. For this reason, the pro-life community has created several compassion-based networks which help post-abortive mothers as they grieve the loss of their preborn child.
When opposing or defending any medical procedure, it’s vital to understand what that procedure entails. Is an abortion any different from removing a tumor? Is a preborn baby a living human, and if so, can they feel pain?
During the 1970’s when Roe vs Wade was ruled in favor of Jane Roe, we lacked the technology to answer these important questions. Now, with ultrasound technology and heavy research, the scientific community can provide us with a clear understand of what (or who) is in the womb.
Gathered from the Benevolent Resources Program Booklet, The First 9 Months:
“Human life begins when the ovum is fertilized and the new combined cell mass begins to divide.” — Dr. Jasper Williams, Former President of the National Medical Association
“Biologically speaking, human development begins at fertilization.” — In the Womb, National Geographic, 2005.
“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization… is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.” — Human Embryology and Teratology
“To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion… it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.” — Dr. Jerome Lejeune “The Father of Modern Genetics”
“To say that the beginning of human life cannot be determined scientifically is utterly ridiculous.” — Dr. Richard V. Jaynes
“To deny a truth [about when life begins] should not be made a basis for legalizing abortion.” — Professor Eugene Diamond
Gathered from Guttmacher Institute.
The pro-life vs pro-choice debate can be an intimidating issue. It seems as though, no matter where one stands, something valuable is lost. For this reason, we highly encourage our readers to do their research before casting a vote in either direction. After all, millions of lives are impacted by this issue.
Consider watching ultrasounds, documentaries, and interviews from former abortionists before deciding if what you’re fighting for is worth what’s lost in the process.
Together, with truth, we can offer hope to the many men, women, and children who’s lives are impacted by an abortion choice. Further information on how you can help care for mothers in difficult circumstance can be found here.