Spoiler Alert: Pro-life Advocates Are Not All Old Republican Men


One of the oft-chanted maxims of the pro-choice movement is “Keep your hands off my body.” The mantra has never jived with me.  While I can certainly understand wanting to keep a stranger’s hands away, I have always wondered why those advocating for abortion never allowed the unborn child to voice the same refrain. However, asking that we, in law and in society, give that unborn child a voice, has somehow managed to earn me the scorn of those who profess “choice.” Apparently I am an old white Republican who wants to suppress the rights of women everywhere.

I can tell you, though, both for myself and for those I’ve worked with: That is not the case.

I had the great pleasure of being invited to a meeting of pro-life agencies and crisis pregnancy centers in my state last week. Energizing does not even begin to describe the atmosphere of the gathering. Recent congressional testimonies may lead some to believe that the pro-life movement is made up of old, white, Republican men who want to oppress women and undo all the economic and political growth women have accomplished in the last century. What I saw instead was a diverse, female-led group of Democrats and Republicans, African-Americans and Caucasians of all ages who were deeply concerned with the long-term wellbeing of both the unborn child and the mother.

What if these passionate men and women don’t volunteer to teach classes extolling abstinence because they want to oppress women? What if they truly believe that teens may not fully comprehend the consequences of becoming sexually active at a young age? What if these advocates of life don’t want to coldly cast their hands on the bodies of pregnant mothers but instead want to show them another way, to wrap them and their unborn child in arms of love?

I was encouraged to see that it is the pro-life advocates who present true choice: choice for the mother and a lifetime of choices for the child.

One of the most shocking things I heard at this summit of pro-life leaders was that over 90 percent of women seen by one of the groups represented decide not to terminate the pregnancy when they learn that they have true choices. Choices for adoption, a job, housing, a chance for a new start; these are the choices that private pro-life organizations offer girls and women in crisis, choices that these young ladies might not hear about if they went to a government-funded entity like Planned Parenthood as soon as the strip turns blue.

No groups label themselves “pro-abortion.” They argue that they are simply protecting a woman’s right to choose. If that is true, we should support those groups that not only preserve and enhance the choices of the mother but also support the promise of life, health, and future choices for her unborn baby.

Editor’s note: I’m going to assume you read all the way to the end like a good, responsible reader, so I’m putting my note here. As you make your way to the comments to weigh in (and please do so!), I just want to remind everyone to please observe the active tolerance policy and comment guidelines. Basically, be civil and debate, rather than attack. Abortion is a hard topic to cover, and Elizabeth did it bravely and well. Let’s not spoil her great work here!

  • Ellen Nitchals

    It’s not a baby. It’s a fetus. And as such, it does not have the same rights as a real human being.

    I agree that pregnant women in crisis should have all options presented to them. Planned Parenthood does that. I don’t know of a single organization that just hands out abortions, no questions asked, with the exception of back-alley criminals. Those back-alley criminals will be performing a lot more botched abortions if people like you make it illegal for women to make choices about their bodies.

    Discouraging abortion? Fine by me. Banning abortion, on the other hand, is an abhorrent abuse of basic human rights.

    • I think we need to as a society define when we believe an organism with human DNA becomes a person. There is nothing magical about being pushed out of a vagina that confers personhood on a human, but I don’t believe that comes out of simply having a human genome either. We need to come up with a set of requirements and allow termination of any human that does not meet those requirements, and disallow it for those that do(unless the person themself wishes it and is competent to consent to wishing it but that is another issue entirely)

      • Ellen Nitchals

        I agree that there’s no definite line. Personally, I think a fetus becomes a “person” when it has developed enough that it could survive on its own. Some people draw the line at the beginning of the third trimester. I don’t really have a problem with picking an arbitrary line and drawing it, so long as (1) a woman is always given a choice early in the pregnancy to terminate it if she desires, and (2) the woman is never forced, even after the arbitrary “person line” has passed, to carry a fetus that he doctor believes could endanger her life or health.

        • Many doctors will not perform an abortion after the 1st trimester.

          • I think all doctors should have the right to determine whether or not they provide those services, and to what ends.

    • Wibbins

      “It’s not a baby. It’s a fetus. And as such, it does not have the same rights as a real human being.”

      The word fetus (plural fetuses) is from the Latin fētus “offspring”, “bringing forth”, “hatching of young”.

      A fetus is a HUMAN offspring that is in development. When you are pregnant you are WITH CHILD, no matter how you twist the definition.

      “real human being”

      Yeah, because only REAL human beings have their own DNA sequences, oh wait, that would mean a “fetus” as you put it, but I thought they weren’t real humans. Oh, you must mean because they can’t walk, talk, or vote, or even have a fully developed brain, even though our bodies are not fully developed until after puberty.

      Your argument is emotional at best, abortions that were being done when it was illegal were being done by doctors off the books.

      • Ellen Nitchals

        “abortions that were being done when it was illegal were being done by doctors off the books.”

        Bullshit. You’re way out of your depth, talking out your ass on a subject you know absolutely nothing about. Just like old republican men who are the stereotype of the anti-choice movement.

        But I’m glad you agree that abortions will happen whether they’re legal or not. Surely you’ll also agree that women deserve proper medical care for a medical procedure. So surely you’ll agree with me that abortion should always remain legal.

        “only REAL human beings have their own DNA sequences”

        Okay. So you’re no longer allowed to cut your hair, throw away fingernail clippings, or masturbate. And if you get cancer, you’d better not excise the tumor. All of those things have DNA, so they’re human beings under your definition.
        Hmmm… that’s not right. There must be something else that makes a person a person other than just having Human DNA.

        “Oh, you must mean because they can’t walk, talk, or vote, or even have a fully developed brain”

        No, I mean because they can’t survive outside the woman’s body. If your body is not developed enough to exist outside of a womb, you’re not a person yet. You’re a POTENTIAL person.

        • “Bullshit. You’re way out of your depth, talking out your ass on a subject you know absolutely nothing about. Just like old republican men who are the stereotype of the anti-choice movement.”

          Ellen, this strikes me very much as an ad hominem attack. It might be best to focus your argument on the content of the other person’s rather than on his or her character. If you really feel that s/he is talking about something s/he has no knowledge of, it might be helpful to provide some back up for your point.

          • “An ad hominem, short for argumentum ad hominem,
            is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative
            characteristic or unrelated belief of the person supporting it.”

            Saying that someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about is definitely not an ad hominem attack. It’s pointing out that they aren’t qualified to make a claim because they don’t have the requisite experience to be knowledgeable on the topic.

            If I had said “you strapped your dog to the roof of your car, so you’re a bad guy and therefore your argument is wrong,” THAT would be an ad hominem attack.

          • When unsubstantiated, it is ad hominem. A statement of “You don’t know what you’re talking about” without any supporting evidence or argument is without content and, thus, is more of an attack on the person’s character than the argument itself.

          • Mehhh, whatever. YOU know what you’re talking about, because that’s not what an ad hominem attack is, but you’re not worth my time so I won’t bother trying to change your mind. This is some random backwater blog and what I have to say isn’t going to change anyone’s mind anyway.

            But just in case one or both of you wants to shatter the worldview that all illegal abortions are safe and performed by doctors, here you go. Read up and enjoy.


          • I made no comment on abortion itself, just FYI.

          • That’s a bit of a strawman, nobody in this thread said illegal abortions were safe and VA never said anything about illegal abortions at all.

  • Mara Ann

    Crisis Pregnancy Centers provide false information to women about abortion. Including that abortion causes breast cancer (not true), that it causes PTSD (not true), that it causes infertility (not true). CPCs lie about fetal development, provide misleading information about abortion and contraception. If the pro-life argument was so great than why do you have to lie to women about it?!

    • Mara Ann

      CPCs ALSO receive government funding. They lie to women. they mislead women. this is wrong and should not be advocated.