Commentary Abortion

The False Equivalency of Abortion “Extremes”

Robin Marty

"Abortion on demand" is not the pro-choice version of no exceptions, and the media needs to understand that.

It’s become obvious that the newly-exposed (although long known) extremist anti-choice platform on abortion–that there be no exceptions, ever, and the potential life be given more rights and protection from conception than whomever carries it–has become a political liability this election. As a result, more articles, letters to the editor and op-eds are springing up throughout the country demanding media and voters pay equal attention to the “extreme” of the pro-choice beliefs: “abortion on demand.

In 2000, the Democratic platform said the party’s goal was “to make abortion less necessary and more rare.” The 2004 platform declared, “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.” But even calling for abortion to be “rare” is now too much for the Democrats’ platform committee, which deleted the word in 2008. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, is a committee member. Or that the president of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider, will address the Democratic convention in North Carolina next week. That convention will renominate President Obama, who is so hard-line in defense of “choice” that he even opposed a ban on sex-selection abortions.

But are the two really equal? Compare the two “extremes.”

One the anti-choice extreme, no woman should ever be allowed to have an abortion, ever, regardless of her circumstances. From the moment of conception, any free will or choice for the pregnant person is out of her hands, and she will carry to term regardless of what emotional, financial, or physical harm it will cause. Her only decision at the end would be to keep a baby or give it away.

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For those who support reproductive rights, conception doesn’t limit any rights or decisions. The only real equal “extreme” on the pro-choice side would be forcing women to have abortions, even if they wanted to carry their pregnancies to term. Despite the prevailing anti-choice belief that every abortion is actually in some way a “coerced” abortion (apparently because women are too weak and easily lead astray to understand their own opinions), that simply isn’t the case.

Pro-choice is to choose, to make the individual decision that the pregnant woman or girl believes would be best for her or herself and her family. “Abortion on demand” is effectively access to abortion without hindrances if terminating a pregnancy is what a woman decides to do. To claim that is an equivalent position as forcing every pregnant woman to carry to term regardless of her heath or her well-being is simply not the same, no matter how hard anti-choice activists claim it is.

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