My latest dilettantish move was to write a letter in response to Ross Douthat’s opinion piece from last week’s Sunday NYT. I was moved to do it because I spent much time in grad school thinking about the ins and outs of the abortion debate in the U.S., and have arrived at the conclusion that the problem of being pressured to name oneself as pro/anti anything related to abortion will always get in the way of human understanding of this complex issue. ‘Twas a failed move on my part, since it won’t be running in this week’s paper, but at least I can put it here.
“Ross Douthat is correct that the pro-life movement shows no signs of disappearing from the public eye, but it’s not because more and more Americans see a clear path to gender equality without the necessity of widespread abortion access. In truth, millions of Americans are unconvinced that relying on the argument for unrestricted access to abortion will help improve gender equality. Rather, Americans have grown weary of the pro-life/pro-choice schism because they know the argument itself presents a false choice. This is one of the reasons Planned Parenthood announced this month that it will let go of the label “pro-choice,” and it is also why Exhale, a non-judgmental post-abortion talkline calls itself “pro-voice.” Such efforts encourage public discourse about the common human experience that is abortion to more accurately reflect the lived reality of those who’ve been there—without encouraging that one pledge allegiance to “life” or “choice.”