Monday, June 7, 2010

Choice v. Freedom v. Abortion Rights

Last week, Katha Pollitt of The Nation and historian Nancy Cohen wrote that the repro rights movement needs a better descriptor than "pro-choice." Ms. Magazine contributor Carol Joffe wrote a similar post in February.

Cohen proposed "pro-freedom" as a patriotic alternative that would appeal to mainstream voters, while Pollitt, Joffe, and a number of progressive organizations prefer the term reproductive justice to describe the rights for which we're fighting.

I agree with Pollitt that we're probably not going to shift the language our country uses around abortion and reproduction at this rate. But I figured I'd weigh in anyway.

I like the term "abortion rights" since it is specific and normalizes the word abortion. I believe that as a movement, we should say what we mean. This also happens to be the language the AP style guide uses. NPR recently adopted the AP guidelines around this language in response to a post by their ombudsman, Alicia Shepard.

The repro justice approach is important and a more comprehensive way to discuss the variety of issues we work on. Both terms are descriptive and are not mutually exclusive, and we can use both where appropriate.

That said, "choice" feels like an old friend and I'd be a little sorry to see it go. Nor am I so quick to believe we have somehow lost the linguistic and cultural high ground to "pro-life" extremists. Your thoughts?

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