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Retooling “pro-choice” language won’t save pro-abortion feminism

by | Feb 1, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

ProLifeFeminismreExcept for discussing the almost incoherent rantings of pro-abortion New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the two NRL News Today topics that have drawn the most responses over the past three weeks are (1) the March for Life [no surprise there] and (2) the debate within pro-abortion circles over Planned Parenthood’s much publicized revamping/updating of its ancient “pro-choice” handle [no surprise there, either].

Pro-abortion criticism of PPFA’s makeover runs the gamut, both in intensity and in terms of why they are dismayed. Some  flatly declare that “pro-choice” really does best describe what they want. Others insist that a warmed over “who decides?” is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Still others lament that casting “pro-choice” aside represents a foolish reliance on focus groups, while some complain that this rhetorical retooling represents a radical misunderstanding of what resonates with younger pro-abortion feminists. Etc., etc., etc.

But being the 800 pound pro-abortion player that it is, far from showing any sign of retreat, PPFA is confidently plowing ahead. We will know over the next year or two whether this was a stroke of genius or just a stroke.

I thought of this in-house pro-abortion debate when I read “Forty Years Later: It’s Time for a New Feminism,” which appeared last week at The Public Discourse. For after all, the reason PPFA is retrofitting its image is the promise  [threat?] that if it doesn’t, today’s feminist will find PPFA irrelevant, if not worse. (Pro-abortion critics of the new rhetorical garb insist it is courting irrelevance by dumping “pro-choice.”)

I would encourage you to read Elise Italiano’s essay.

It goes without saying that pro-abortionists do not speak for all women, or even most women, or even a sizable minority of women. What they want to be able to say is that they “speak” for younger women, which is increasingly difficult in that many Millennials either find “feminist” an almost quaint term in this much more egalitarian age or find it odd (to be polite) that they are told they have to pit unborn children against their mothers to qualify as member of the club.

Italiano has a fascinating take on the whole “war on women” nonsense that distorted the last election cycle. “While birth control and abortion still would have been readily available to them if they lost their campaign, their ideology’s strength certainly would suffer: The door would be wide open to voices that promote a feminism rooted in utterly different grounds” (emphasis added).

And that’s what her essay is about: an authentic feminism that offers “consistency, clarity, and real solutions to women’s issues.” A first resort or last resort to abortion accomplishes none of these, as she explains thoroughly and with keen insight.

Abortion dulls our capacity for empathy, blinds us the price paid in lost lives, and corrupts the driving ideal of feminism properly understood: an appreciation of the ties that bind us together as equally-respected members of the human community.

Nothing, but nothing, poses a more serious threat to pro-abortion feminist orthodoxy than the insistence that women (and men, for that matter) are not obliged to check  their critical faculties or their humanity at the door.

If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at twitter.com/daveha. Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com.

Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: feminism