Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pro-choice and pro-abortion are not the same thing

By now all the world knows that President Obama has nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. And, if she's confirmed, she will be the third female justice to sit on the current court.

Just what kind of issues can a new justice expect to face during her life-long appointment?

According to Diane Hartmus, associate professor of political science at Oakland University, abortion is an issue on the horizon for the court.

“This court has not heard this issue,” Hartmus said in an interview with the Oakland Press. She explains that the scene is being set now as the states are placing some very strict regulations and unique restrictions on abortions.

Abortion has been a hot-button issue for decades and casts a specter over women's reproductive rights.

But, here's a new -- or maybe not so new -- thought:

Pro-choice and pro-abortion are not necessarily the same thing.

Think about it.

In her book, "Feminism is for Everybody -- Passionate Politics" feminist writer bell hooks says that while the issue of abortion is still relevant to all women, there are other reproductive rights that are just as vital.

"Responsible birth control liberated many women like myself who were pro-choice, but not necessarily pro-abortion for ourselves from having to personally confront the issue.

"The abortion issue captured the attention of mass media because it really challenged the notion that a woman's reason for existence was to bear children. It called attention to the female body as no other issue could have done. It was a direct challenge to the church. Later, all the other reproductive issues that feminist thinkers called attention to were often ignored by mass media.

"The right of women to choose whether or not to have an abortion is only one aspect of reproductive freedom.

All aspects of reproductive rights affect all women. When emotions run high over the mere mention of abortion, it overshadows the importance of the issue at hand: The government - at any level - does not need to be making laws and restrictions that affect women's bodies. If women relinquish the right to choose, they risk losing other important rights as well.

From a feminist point of view, being pro-choice means supporting the right of women who need abortions to choose whether or not to have them. The right to choose is the issue, not the subjective morality of abortion.

"Anti-choice is essentially anti-feminist," says hooks.

Right-wing, anti-abortion activists further color the issue by calling their movement "pro-life," when life is not the real issue. And while they have the right to express their opinions, they do not have the right to impose their conscience on others.

If the emotions surrounding the connotation of abortion are removed from the equation, it becomes obvious that, whatever our personal beliefs, we can still support reproductive rights which are so essential to our freedom.

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