That’s why we’re pro-choice

Say what you will, but the most succinct and compelling argument that I’ve heard to date for being pro-choice – or “pro-abortion”, as some of the more committed and inaccurate pro-lifers prefer to call it – appeared on an album that Consolidated put out in 1992 called Play More Music. Consolidated were known for placing microphones in the audience at their live shows, so that audience members could interact with the group between songs and respond to their performance. Many of these responses found their way onto future recordings, either as samples in studio tracks or as breaks between them.

One such break was a track called “Animal Rights / Abortion Rights” on Play More Music. I’m afraid I don’t know which member of the band actually responded to this particular question, but the dialogue was as follows:

Audience Member: “You guys talk a lot about, uh, not killing and hurting animals, and I think that’s really cool and I think you guys are doing a great job. But I just, uh, what concerns me on the last record especially is that you’re talking about, uh, abortion a lot, and saying that any… Any reason why a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy is a valid reason. And I think that’s kind of scary to make that decision, that that fetus, that growing being inside of a woman’s body, has no rights to live.”

Consolidated: “That’s why we’re pro-choice. Because we don’t think it’s our right to make that decision.”

The point of that reply, of course, is to acknowledge that denying a woman that choice is really a matter of choosing for her. To argue that a woman has no right to make that decision regarding her own unborn child is to argue, in effect, that a third-party group – be they priests or politicians or whatever – have the right to make that decision on her behalf. Naturally, many pro-lifers would counter that a higher power made that decision for all of us, which is obviously one of the differences of opinion that makes this issue such a tough one to resolve.

With the abortion debate having risen back to the top of the American consciousness after President Obama’s recent visit to Notre Dame, I feel like there’s no time like the present to post that excerpt. After all, it was on another Consolidated album that I first heard the name of Randall Terry, the Operation Save America founder whose opposition to Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame brought him back into the spotlight this month. You can go ahead and roll your eyes at the thought of me drawing my views on abortion from left-wing industrial records, but the fact remains that it’s rare to hear a speaker on either side of the debate acknowledge the complexity of the issue to that degree.

Which brings me to Obama himself, who should be commended for his address. The president asked the nation to keep an open mind towards the many perspectives that people might have on an issue like abortion, and he acknowledged that “this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually”. Randall Terry, on the other hand, publicly compared Obama to Hitler and pledged to turn his visit into “a circus”. Guess which of these two approaches to the abortion debate I prefer.

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2 Responses to “That’s why we’re pro-choice”

  1. Bonnie says:

    No one draws their opinion solely on the basis of a band. It’s obvious that you share the same views as Consolidated – they just happened to have made a very compelling argument for being pro-choice, and you decided to laud them for it.

    I once ended an argument with “No uterus, no opinion.” But that’s a very simplistic view to have. Everyone has a right to their opinion on the issue. What galls me is that being pro-choice is seen as being pro-abortion. It is not. Being pro-choice is recognizing that women have a choice in what happens to their own bodies, a choice that many right-wingers and religious bodies want to take away.

    I wish they would direct their time, money and effort to providing proper sex education and birth control in an effort to stem unwanted pregnancies. Or at least show some care and support to unwed mothers and the children who are born out of unplanned pregnancies. It seems to me that in the eyes of pro-lifers, once a child is born, it’s not its own.

    Great post.

  2. Matt says:

    You’re too kind, Bonnie. And you’re right, the coining of the term “pro-choice” as an alternative to “pro-abortion” was a major step forward. I don’t think anyone in their right mind is actually pro-abortion.

    The “no uterus, no opinion” argument can be a compelling one, I’m sure. But you’re right in saying that everyone has a right to their opinion. Abortion is one of the many issues for which I often feel it’s best to remember that I’m a straight white guy, and that there’s a whole group of people out there who are affected much more deeply by the issue than I am. But if I were ever to find myself in a situation where I had a more direct stake in that decision – if I was the father, for example – then of course I’d like to think I’d have a say.