Why It's A Bad Idea To Call Pro-Lifers "Anti-Choice"

Why It's A Bad Idea To Call Pro-Lifers "Anti-Choice"

You probably shouldn't intentionally piss off the people you're attempting to persuade.

Recently, I have begun to notice participants on the left side of the abortion debate referring to those who are against abortion as "anti-choice," as opposed to their traditional moniker, "pro-life." I see this mainly on Slate, but I've begun to see it elsewhere as well—seeping into the discourse, if you will. It is my opinion that this not a good practice for anyone on the left to adopt—especially if they wish to convince anyone on the right to change their position, even minimally.

Now, before we go any further, I'd like to acknowledge that I haven’t named my position on abortion, nor do I intend to. This is because I believe that an insistence on picking a side formally in intellectual discussions often serves as a hindrance to understanding by causing everyone to immediately shift to tribalistic, in-group/out-group thought patterns. This problem is especially virulent in abortion debates—anyone who has ever been on the Internet (ever) knows that abortion debates are the absolute worst kind. No one ever changes their mind, no one convinces one another and everyone just screams and positions themselves in such a way as to win points with those who already agree with them. Though this is something that occurs with a lot of topics on the Internet, this is true even of arguments about abortion in real life—everyone has a side, and loyalty to that side trumps all. It is for this reason that I’m not going to admit my side, and it is also the reason that I believe that those who are pro-choice ought not to call those who are against abortion “anti-choice.”

Of course, there are those for whom my opinion is fairly irrelevant. People on the left who have given up convincing any pro-lifers and merely wish to battle the issue out in the courts, for instance, probably don’t care about the best way to facilitate intellectual discussion between the opposing sides of this debate (though I do not think such an advocacy is wise). And extremists on either side probably don’t care about making sure the language used by both sides is conducive to meeting in the middle. But for those who believe that a compromise between both sides is possible—whether it’s finding the middle ground on issues like the states’ increasingly fervent curtailment of access to abortion, or perhaps finding an acceptable bright-line for life’s beginning at the federal level—it is imperative that both sides be able to engage in productive discourse.

What this means, however, is that both sides ought to cease demonizing each other. I know that, as an issue couched in moral terms, this is difficult, but it must be done. The biggest problem is that both sides have a tendency to avoid actually engaging with the other, like two ships passing in the night. Because they see abortion as concerning two fundamentally different moral issues (right to life versus women’s rights), any further alienation of either side is damning to the cause of compromising on policy.

If the left wishes to advance their cause, they needn’t focus on overturning the entire moral viewpoint of pro-lifers—such an approach is doomed to failure. Instead, they should focus on the nitty-gritty; this allows the debate to focus on specifics and pragmatics as opposed to sweeping generalities about the inherent immorality of the opposing side. If both sides can forget those huge differences, real discourse about state and federal policy can be achieved. Toward this end, divisive rhetorical tools should be curtailed—including the terming of pro-lifers “anti-choice.” If a Republican who wished to compromise with the Democrats referred to them as “communist swine” while discussing policy with them, everyone would be much less willing to even begin to engage.

Now, I recognize that there are much larger problems surrounding the abortion debate. Entrenched biases, intersections between religion and socioeconomic status, and obviously gender. My only point is that, if people wish to make progress in a civil society by compromising with their intellectual opponents, every alienating measure is a step in the wrong direction—so perhaps one just ought to call people what they wish to be called.

Cover Image Credit: Elvert Xavier Barnes Protest Photography

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As A Muslim American, My Trip To Jerusalem Revealed That Open-Mindedness Bridges Communities

A life changing trip that opened my eyes up to the optimal dynamics in a community.


On Dec. 21, my parents and I flew to Amman, a city in the beautiful country of Jordan, where we took a cab to the main part of Jerusalem. We were told by multiple family friends that it is not the safest to directly fly into Jerusalem because of the religious issues and riots going on. As we entered Jerusalem, I put my hijab on. A hijab is a head covering worn to cover a women's beauty in Islam. As I put my hijab on to pay respect to Mosque Aqsa, I noticed a change in perspective from everyone around me because suddenly, there were eyes from everywhere on me — Muslim and Jewish.

After we paid respect to Mosque Aqsa, we went to the hotel to sleep because we were exhausted from our 14 hour flight. The next morning, we woke up bright and early to begin our day by praying at Mosque Aqsa. I wore traditional American clothes, jeans and a top, because it was often worn in Jerusalem, though I kept a hijab on for prayer.

After praying, I was astonished by the gathering of all the Muslim people in the mosque area. This made me want to see the Wailing Wall and the place of the first church to view how others gather for their god. I knew the Wailing Wall was sacred because it was a prayer and pilgrimage place for Jewish people, while for Christians, Jesus was born inside the first church.

As we exited the mosque community, we found a kind man at the kiosk who gave us pomegranate and mangoes. My dad decided to ask this gentleman directions to the Wailing Wall. The man began screaming at me and my dad. He told us we are not allowed to even want to view the wall of the Jewish people. I responded and explained that we just want another perspective on other religions. The man yelled even louder. He told us that the Jewish people would convert us and that we should not leave the Mosque surroundings. With this, he furiously sat back down and did not give us any directions to the wall that was right behind this mosque. My dad and I were quite confused on what had just happened and the way our question for simple directions were handled.

We decided to walk along the sidewalk until we found someone to help us out. It was a 61-year-old man who seemed to be a Jewish person with his religious hat. He happily helped us out and gave us exact directions for the Wailing Wall, though he did say he was excited new people wanted to convert to his religion.

We followed his directions and successfully reached the Wailing Wall. There were gates at the Wailing Wall that had security checks that allowed people to enter as there were at the mosque. Although, the experience entering the wall and mosque was not the same. As a muslim woman wearing a hijab, I was able to walk through the mosque without anyone questioning me, I was easily able to walk in without questions asked.

At the wall, a security guard first made my family go through metal detectors, checked our passports and asked an immense amount of questions about why we wanted to go see the Wailing Wall if we were Muslim. Finally, after various obstacles and issues, we made it into the Wailing Wall.

As I experienced such obstacles, I thought about how different the community in Jerusalem was from the United States. It doesn't matter what group, each religion in Jerusalem was highly conservative. This is quite different from the United States.

The culture in the United States is significantly diverse, which allows the people here to be open minded. As an everyday routine, Americans interact with people of various religions and cultures that they don't question or change their perspective toward a certain race. Yes, there are always racist citizens who are not comfortable with other religions, but a majority of the United States depicts unity because of how culturally different every person is.

This is not how Jerusalem is seen. Religions are significantly segregated with one another through security check, restaurants, hotels and even streets. Every religion has their streets in Jerusalem and going to the one you are not a part of can result in awkward stares along with rude treatment.

As I had previously booked a hotel before arriving to Jerusalem, we were not aware that the street we booked was on the street of the Jewish people. This wasn't a major issue, but glares and different treatment were conveyed. As my parents and I would eat breakfast in the lounge, we would often get glares for the hijab or clothing we were wearing because it was different from everyone else around us. This was quite disturbing because every day we would go inside the hotel or leave and get glares that clearly depicted that we weren't wanted in this hotel. The hotel workers were indefinitely kind and caring at all times, though the people living there were not.

The experience I had was definitely an eye-opening lesson. It depicted the perspective of others in America versus Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem are not open-minded, which detaches the various religious groups in the nation. It prevents various religions to connect or be able to create united communities to be able to act as one.

As for the United States, there are different religions and cultures blended together with majority of the people who are open-minded. This allows the union of communities, while also allowing people to connect without the similarity of religion. I'm glad that I was able to have a once in a lifetime experience with my family. Although the segregation in the country was a little uncomfortable, I am glad that I was able to understand how lucky I am to live in an open, happy and united country and that I am also able to learn about the significance of open-mindedness in uniting people and communities.

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