Opinions

OPINION: The fallacy of abortion terminology

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So, I’m guessing I’m not the only person receiving calls from pollsters looking for hints as to what might emerge from the crowded fields of political candidates in this year’s elections. We all knew it was coming. We’ve all been through it before. Our phones ring off the hook with people asking us who we plan to vote for, what we plan to vote for and, of course, the popular question being asked by people seeing the signs — “Who’s Kelly?”

I am, for the most part, retired and I have lots of time to respond to these calls. I listen carefully to the questions. The minute it feels like a push poll, I hang up. So, when the question was asked that caused me to explode, there was no doubt at all about my understanding the choice I was given: Am I pro-life or pro-choice?

What a horrible, horrible way to phrase that question. If I say I’m pro-choice, it implies that I am anti-life.

I am pro-choice and pro-life. I believe that every woman has a right to make their own personal choices about their life and health care without the government sticking its nose in between the doctor and the speculum. I also believe life extends beyond birth, so if you are going to insist women bear these babies, then you should be ready to provide for them until they turn 21. Women who don’t want a child but are forced to have one may not be the best parents in the world. And what about dad? Well, he may well be off impregnating someone else — after all, the baby is not his problem. And Viagra is there to make sure he can always make more. Birth control might not be available to the women he is having sex with, but the government has assured him that his Viagra is covered by insurance.

Now if every person out there who actually doesn’t want abortions to happen were filling out paperwork to adopt some of these babies they insist be born, I wouldn’t have a problem with their stance. Or maybe if they were fighting for women to have free birth control offered to them as a requirement of law under their insurance. I know that sounds like government sticking its nose into a woman’s business again, but trust me, this time she won’t object.

But none of this is happening. State governments are providing no extra support for the children being born under these circumstances. Seems as though once the child emerges from the mother, “pro-lifers” stop caring so much about what life will actually be for that child. Republican legislatures across the country are trying hard to ban all abortions and, in some cases, birth control. So once again, let me point out, that the government requires insurance carriers to offer Viagra but wants to forbid them from offering birth control. What could go wrong?

I grew up in a world in which the role of women was hemmed in on all sides by their inability to control when they had a baby or how many babies they had. Then I spent my adulthood in a world where women’s horizons expanded because birth control became available, and women could take control of their lives in a way they never had before. And now, in my old age, it feels as though Republicans, conservative Christians, right-wing crazies — call them what you will — are pushing very hard to move those walls back around us so that our choices are very limited.

The question should not be about pro-life versus pro-choice. There is only pro-choice if women are to hold their rightful place in society — which is whatever place they choose without restrictions due to biology. The alternative is to require every man who has sex to use birth control or raise the resulting child. Not just financially support them — raise them as a single parent while mom goes off to do whatever she wants.

The real question, to my mind, is: Are you pro-choice or anti-life?

Elise Patkotak is an Alaska columnist and author. Her book “Coming Into the City” is available at AlaskaBooksandCalendars.com and at local bookstores.

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Elise Patkotak

Elise Patkotak is an Alaska columnist and author. Her book "Coming Into the City" is available at AlaskaBooksandCalendars.com and at local bookstores.

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