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I have supported abortion rights as my single-issue for many years.  You can, therefore, imagine my  dismay over the recent election.

 I am writing everyone I know to urge a change in vocabulary so that we might reclaim our message on women's reproductive rights.

 Heretofore, we must abandon the term "pro-life" and replace it with "pro-criminalizaton."    Every elected official who proclaims to be anti-abortion must be labeled as "pro-criminalization."   That puts the spotlight exactly where it should be and forces the public into an awareness of the gravity of the situation.   We should be asking the anti-choice folks questions such as  "who should go to jail and for how long?"  We must drive home the reality that criminalization is the intended outcome of the anti-choice movement.

Anti-choice advocates have used language to their great advantage by renaming a little-known and little-used medical procedure "partial-birth abortion."    Who could be against that?    The very term "pro-life" is a misnomer and grants the bearer a high ground that is undeserved because it does not take into consideration the life of the mother.

 Could we please stop allowing our opponents to define the vocabulary of the debate?

 All together now:  "It's the criminalization, Stupid!"  

Originally posted to Radiowalla on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:26 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Criminalization of Choice (none)

    Bigotry is not a Christian value.

    by Genf on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:22:48 AM PST

    •  I like it!!! (none)

      Bigotry is not a Christian value.

      by Genf on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:23:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  a little too rhetorical, IMO (none)
      The "choice" meme is very controversial in some areas, because even some supporters of legalized abortion don't really view it as a legitimate "choice", but on utilitarian grounds think it should be legal.

      The real winner in public opinion is simply criminalized versus legalized abortion.  Even a lot of people who oppose abortion don't support criminalizing it.  The term "criminalization" also has a suitably nasty sound to it.

      A libertarian for Kerry.

      by Delirium on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:35:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Criminalizing MEDICINE (none)
      Their intent is to make criminal a legitimate part of medical science.  

      Rubus Eradicandus Est.

      by Randomfactor on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 01:18:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  People always lose when tagged with an anti- tag (none)
    anti-abortion would be the most obvious one.

    Any way one could argue that they are anti-family because of the fact that unwanted abortions may frequently tear families apart, or at least down?

    Nov. 2: Man #1: Those votes just disappeared! Man #2: Of course not. What do you think they are? 400 tons of explosives?

    by FleetAdmiralJ on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:24:54 AM PST

    •  anti-abortion is good (none)
      Anti-family is a bit of a stretch I think.  You have to explain why it's anti-family, and then it starts looking a little bit like a rhetorical trick.  (Of course, the Christian Coalition's definition of "anti-family" is pretty terrible too.)

      Anti-abortion is pretty hard to argue against.  I mean, they are anti-abortion.  It's hard to even argue that it's a biased description; it's just a neutral statement of what they oppose.

      A libertarian for Kerry.

      by Delirium on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:37:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  To be "anti-abortion" isn't the same as (4.00)
        being "pro-criminalization."

        I believe abortion should be legal, but I am "anti" in the sense that I don't think it should be done lightly.  I don't know if I would ever have one myself.  

        So you can be both "pro-choice" and against or anti-abortion.  In fact, most everyone I know is anti-abortion.  I don't know of a single person who thinks abortion ought to be encouraged.  

        The real crux of the matter is the criminalization.  I think that we need to point out on every occasion that the so-called "pro-life" community is really the "pro-criminalization" community.

        •  I can agree with that (none)
          I think "anti-abortion" is a good replacement for "pro-life" in more conservative-leaning areas, but when we're doing the pushing, I agree that pro-criminalization is better.

          A libertarian for Kerry.

          by Delirium on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 11:27:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think anti-abortion misses the mark... (none)
      Abortion already has a negative connatation to many folks. Saying you are against something negative doesnt carry as much weight.

      However, saying you are for making choice a criminal act... thats a different story...

      Another way to look at it is this... Save the fetus, ignore the child

      How many republicans do you know that argue for pro-life and against welfare?

  •  Why "anti-criminalization" works (none)
    Saying you are against something negative doesnt carry as much weight.

    It also puts the focus on the outcome of a particular philosophical/value position.

    People who are against abortions need to ask themselves if they want to see women and doctors in jail.  

    In a democratic society some are guilty, but all are responsible. -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 10:49:55 AM PST

    •  I think it's an easier sell than pro-choice too (none)
      Pro-choice is vulnerable to the attack that it's not a "legitimate choice", because after all you can't choose to do things like shoplift or kidnap, so if abortion is immoral, then it makes sense that you can't choose to do that either.

      Pro-criminalization is hard to counter besides vague whining from conservatives about the terminology being "biased", because it's not inaccurate by any argument.  The people who want abortion illegal really do want it to be criminalized, and there's really no way to argue against that.

      A libertarian for Kerry.

      by Delirium on Mon Nov 08, 2004 at 11:26:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Take Back the Language (none)
    This is a VERY important issue. I am against abortion but I am pro choice. Why? As the mother of 2, I have no quesiton that life begins at conception. We need to look at those horrific pictures the pro-life folks show us. But they need to look at the horrific pictures of young desperate women dying from botched illegal abortions. They are just as horrific. Making abortion illegal doesn't save lifes--just as many babies are killed and more women too.
    But policies that affect poor people make a difference. Abortions actually went down by 11% under Clinton. We need to be the Pro-Life party--against the death penalty, against pre-emptive war, against the extinction of species, and against abortion. Only we are against it by making policies that reduce the necessity of it--health care, better minimum wage, better day care, better leave for mothers, better education. the eradication of poverty.
    I'm thinking this all through but I think it is a big issue we need to focus on. We CAN take the moral high ground on this issue if we focus on the actual number of abortions and not just whether it is legal or not.
    •  I hope you will join me (none)
      in spreading the word about taking back the language.

      I have spent the morning emailing Planned Parenthood, NARAL, EMILY's List, etc.   Over the years I have given mega bucks to these organizations and they have never been able to seize upon the right language to frame the debate.  To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement.

      Perhaps we need to batter them with calls and letters.  Ditto for our elected representatives who go on talk shows and use the vocabulary defined by the right wing.

      Kinda makes you gag, doesn't it?

  •  Criminalization (none)
    If abortion becomes illegal, misuse of the Patriot Act to investigate women who miscarry is a very real and frightening possibility.
  •  We need to bring up Griswold reversal... (none)
    Griswold vs CT is where the Supreme court got right to privacy.  It has nothing to do with abortion but it is the right to privacy where in 1965 CT had a law preventing married people from using contraceptives.

    In order to turn over Roe, you need to turn over Griswold which outlines the right to privacy.  If we expand the debate to right to privacy beyond just abortion to contraception and controlling your fertility we would have much more support.

    We should be asking:

    If life begins at conception and the state has a right and an obligation to protect that right then most non-barrier contraception must be considered abortion since they simply prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted in the Uterus.  Which forms of birth control would be outlawed under your proposal.

    In a similar way, if abortion laws are left to the states would pregnant women from a state where abortion is illegal be prevented from travelling to a state where abortion is legal?

    If you have a miscarriage, would that be investigated as a crime scene?  Sounds silly but just imagine women and their co-conspirator doctors saying, "it was not an abortion it was just a miscarriage" to get around the law (with a little help from some illegal RU-486).

    How and when would the state be responsible for protecting the new life.  Would you have to report a pregnancy to the state?  Go to the next level, since most contraception is illegal, would you have to report to the state if you are planning to have children?  Other than that sex between consenting adults would have to be illegal because a potential life could be created.

    If you took a friend across state lines to have an abortion from a state where it is illegal could you be prosecuted as an accomplice to murder?

    Would a women who is pregnant in a state where abortion is illegal be prevented from travelling to say Canada, Mexico or Europe?

    Could you get an out-of-state doctor to prescribe a "morning after pill" or RU-486 or by a mail-order pharmacy?  If you did, could that pharmacist be prosecuted by that state?

    If a pregnant woman determines through genetic testing that the fetus has a severe mutation like CF or Tay-Sachs and would terminate but that is illegal, could the state be forced to assume all expenses associated with that fetus/baby?

    If a pregnant woman is a severe health/death risks for carrying the baby to term (Hypertension, Diabetes, Heart Disease) could she terminate the pregnancy to save her own life?  What would the burden of proof be?

    •  Precisely! (none)
      These are wonderfull follow-up questions!  
      I can imagine the squirming from the peanut gallery!  

      Isn't there a problem with  right wing jurists on the question of privacy, however?  I am not a lawyer, but I seem to recall some of the hardliners disputing that there is any right to privacy in the Constitution.  Do they think that, along with Roe,  Griswold was wrongly decided?

      Also, I wonder how many people know that in Idaho there is a law already on the books that states that the moment Roe v. Wade is overturned, any doctor performing an abortion in Idaho will be charged with murder?

      One other state also has a similar provision, but I don't remember which one...maybe Louisiana.

      •  Idaho Women (none)
        These were the first people I thought about after the "election."  I live in Oregon, and am just getting ready to assist whatever underground network  will inevitably be created.  God help those women in the red states within red states.

        "Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer." ~Samwise Gamgee

        by SheelaNG on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 08:56:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Criminalization" doesn't exactly get it (none)
    Like, what are they going to do, jail pregnant mothers? No. They'll go after the doctors. But the issue is US--females. They're telling us what to do with our bodies. Do we want some Mormon senator telling us to make babies whether we want to or not? Do we want this guy to lead other senators?
       Unfortunately, my senator is Joe Lieberman, who is quite happy to tell women what they should do.
       And, also unfortunately, this blog is sufficiently male-heavy that most posters don't seem to think it's a problem when our elected representatives want to force pregnancy on half the population.
       I think we need something that has the word "rights" in it. It seems rather inalienable that the government shouldn't be able to coerce half the population into some bodily, often life-threatening action just because some Mormons and orthodox jewish guys think that's what THEIR women should do.
    •  We don't know who is going to be sent to jail (none)
      and that is also the point!  The anti-choice folks refuse to state what the penalties will be!  At least in the states where they haven't already put it on the books, like Idaho.  In Idaho they have a law that says that the minute Roe is overturned, any doctor performing an abortion will be charged with murder.  That at least is pretty clear.

      Re Lieberman: I looked up his record during the primaries and, if I remember correctly, he is solidly pro-choice.  He has a very high NARAL rating.  

      I don't like the idea of men making these decisions for women, but unfortunately they aren't without their female supporters in the Congress.    

      "Pro-life" really means "pro-criminalization"

      by Radiowalla on Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 07:36:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  yes (none)
    criminalization of womanhood. have been posting this for some time. criminalization of:

    • pregnancy

    • poverty

    • teachers

    • abortions

    • parents without jobs and parents with jobs


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