The Future of the Pro-Choice Movement

With the recent House vote to defund Planned Parenthood due to federal money "indirectly" funding abortions, pro-choice reproductive care is once again front and center in the spotlight. 

As I read one of many articles, blogs, tweets and the like today on the subject, I came across this piece by the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review that cited a Washington Post op-ed piece by Francis Kissling, former President of Catholics for Choice and visiting scholar at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.  It reminded me of an interview I listened to with her from a show on American Public Radio on this past anniversary of of Roe v. Wade.  Of the many things she touched on in that interview, one of the things that stuck out for me was her call for a different approach on how to get the pro-choice movement unstuck (if you will...), sentiments echoed in the articles linked above.  You can listen to the full interview from the public radio broadcast here .

After active participation in the pro-choice movement for close to 20 years, I have come to enjoy and understand how to have calm, rational debates, and avoid over emotional ones, no matter what the topic.  Good listening and reason is more difficult to come by in an elevated emotional state.  This is but one of the many gifts I've been given working in the abortion field, and one I have applied in all areas of my activism.

But given the high emotional impact on opposing sides of the debate, I often find it difficult to communicate about abortion in many everyday settings.  Maybe I'm burnout on the same circle of dialogue, but part of it is that I'm also not interested in trying to change anyone's mind about the issue necessarily...I believe what I believe, and live my life accordingly.  I respect others' rights to believe differently, and feel it's as pointless for me to try and change their thinking as it is for them to try and change mine.  

But the rub is, we have to talk about abortion in order to defend the continued erosion of reproductive rights.  If it was simple morality judgments at play, I would care less about those conversations happening.  Not that I would be apathetic to the impact judgment has on the overall stigma we are constantly battling, but if public policy and rights were not at issue, it would not rate as important for me.  The antiquated approach and talking points do little to energize and shift the movement with the times, a shift the anti-choice movement has had no problem making.  I would like to develop new ways of discussing abortion, one's where we can get more people to engage in, and one's where we can all hear each others points.

I believe that most in our society support abortion rights to some degree, and I think (as Ms. Kissling does) that most viewpoints are more moderate then what those of us that work for abortion rights ideally strive for.  I am still contemplating some of Ms. Kissling's points, but I agree that the conversation must change if we are to try and regain some of our losses.  For one, issues of spirituality and choosing abortion, to me, are a huge untapped conversation that leads to much of the vilification that hurts our movement.  

How will we change the dialogue?  How will we find a way to appeal to the moderates without conceding too much?  I'm not sure, but here's to hoping that conversations like the above will help stimulate that much needed change.  

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