Several of the commentators on this blog have already raised the issue of how to get beyond the classic framing of “pro-choice” vs “pro-life,” even as others use these characterizations in their contributions as if they were neutral descriptions of the movements mobilized to fight over the legal status of abortion in the US. Joffe alone points out explicitly how misleading these labels are to characterize the movements, and uses the more accurate terms “abortion rights” and “anti-abortion” for the two sides.
But neutral and accurate are not the principles on which one would strategically decide what a movement should be called. Continue reading
As other contributors to this series have observed, “pro life” and “pro choice” do not adequately capture the dimensions and diversity of opinions and experiences that people have with regard to abortion and, as we will make clear, a whole lot more. Drawing upon our own observations formed during decades of gender scholarship and legal advocacy, we join others in their critique of the pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy. As part of that conversation, we offer “pro-lives” as a term that more accurately reflects the values of people on all sides of the abortion debate. Continue reading
The long-term consequences of reproductive movements post-Roe are varied, but one of the most important has been the coalescing of the movement for reproductive justice. When I first wrote about reproductive justice on this blog, the US was in the midst of a major political debate over who would be elected president. While the economy was a major focus, reproduction, once again, was a key issue raised. Republican candidates in races throughout the country took public stances including disagreeing with mandated health care coverage of birth control and made inaccurate and shocking remarks about social problems such as rape. Responses to these ideas sparked various resistances by individuals and organizations that mobilized celebrity support to “draw the line” on the War on Women as it became dubbed. Although these comments were not the only reasons for his re-election, President Obama remained in office. I wondered which candidate would talk about reproductive justice. The question I raised remains in some ways but now I pose it to fellow researchers of reproductive movements: who will talk about reproductive justice? Continue reading
It is difficult to predict the future of social movements. The political world is in flux; so are the composition and dynamics of the social movements operating in it. This makes it difficult to say with any certainty what movement will succeed during a particular historical moment, let alone predict what may happen to a given movement next. The uncertainty surrounding a movement’s trajectory does not disappear simply because it is an established part of the political landscape. Indeed, some issues have the ability to mobilize segments of the population year after year. Yet, it is difficult to divine what these movements will look like a decade from now. Continue reading
A long-time soldier and sometime general in the battle for reproductive freedom, I have marched, organized rallies, served on boards, testified before legislators, sent letters, signed petitions and founded organizations. Yet, when I look at this field, I’m neither bolstered by our victories nor galvanized by our vision.
According to Gallup, over the last three decades there has been a modest increase in public support for abortion and, paradoxically a decline in number of people who identify as “pro-choice.” But the proof of a movement is in the social conditions it creates and cements: we’re barely keeping our heads up in the wave of anti-abortion legislation proposed and passed in many states. Continue reading
At this 40th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision, both of the social movements most connected to the abortion issue find themselves in a cup half full/half empty situation and, as I shall discuss, both face considerable challenges. But first a note on nomenclature. Given the extraordinary politicization surrounding virtually every aspect of abortion, the very names these movements have used are often contested by others; for example, many who support abortion object that those who oppose abortion have appropriated the term “pro-life”—therefore implying that the former are not. Moreover, in polls many Americans claim to be both “pro-life” and in support of legal abortion. Similarly, the term “pro-choice” has been criticized for its apparent obliviousness to the fact that some women do not have the resources to “choose” abortion. For purposes of this blog, I shall use the neutral terms, “abortion rights movement” and “anti-abortion movement.” Continue reading