[Today's post is re-posted from "Yeah, but..."]
Planned Parenthood is moving away from the term "pro-choice" in response polls showing dissatisfaction with abortion debate labels.
"I'm neither pro-choice nor pro-life," said one woman in a focus group commissioned by Planned Parenthood. "I'm pro-whatever-the-situation is." Said another, "there should be three: pro-life, pro-choice and something in the middle that helps people understand circumstances [...] It's not just back or white, there's grey."Over at Slate magazine, Amanda Marcotte was frustrated with this response. She claims that people who are "pro-whatever-the-situation-is" are pro-choice.
But if the women mean, as I suspect they do, that they are not pro-abortion but rather pro- a woman being able to make her decision based on her circumstances, that is the very definition of pro-choice.This is also my understanding of the term "pro-choice." And I expect it's the understanding of most pro-choice activists. But is that how the term "pro-choice" translates to the general public--to people who aren't particularly involved in the abortion debate? Based on Planned Parenthood's research and response, it seems a lot of people hear "pro-choice" and feel it implies something more, a stronger stance.
It'll be interesting to see whether Planned Parenthood can transcend abortion debate labels. I think labels help people succinctly explain their perspectives; it just gets cumbersome trying to impart all the nuance every time you speak on a topic. I think the labels "pro-life" and "pro-choice" are going to be around for a long while still, but if they're not, I'm interested to see what takes their place.