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Anti-Choice Statements - Pro-Choice Responses
Perhaps more than ever before, we appreciate the values and freedoms that make Americans unique. The freedom to choose which we believe is the greatest of human freedoms stands proudly alongside the freedom to worship, speak and vote as a fundamental American right. And like other rights, we cannot take it for granted. It is constantly threatened by politicians, by government, by anti-choice extremists. To ensure that the freedom to choose endures, we must articulate our pro-choice values openly, effectively and proudly. This fact sheet is designed to help pro-choice individuals do just that. The following framework focuses on the values that underlie the freedom to choose and is the foundation for communicating about this right.
First, focus on "Who Decides?" by asking whether the woman or the government should make these highly personal decisions. We respect and trust women to decide when the circumstances are right to bear a child and when they are not free from government interference.
Second, clarify that we are pro-choice, not pro-abortion. We believe in giving women a broad range of reproductive choices, including effective family planning, access to infertility treatments, healthy childbearing, abortion and adoption.
Third, stress the importance of the freedom to choose for women and their health. Access to a broad range of reproductive options, from family planning to abortion to prenatal care, improves women's health and lives. Attempts to restrict theses choices, especially abortion, will have devastating consequences for women's health and lives.
Protecting Roe v. Wade
Anti-Choice Statement: Abortion should not be legal in the U.S. Abortion must be stopped, and the right to life must be protected.
Pro-Choice Response: Laws have never stopped abortion. Legal abortion protects women's health and saves women's lives. The question is whether abortion should be legal, safe and dignified, or illegal, dangerous and fraught with fear and humiliation.
Anti-Choice Statement: If abortion were outlawed, abortionists, but not women, would be prosecuted for murder. Women were not prosecuted before Roe v. Wade, and would not be in the future.
Pro-Choice Response: Anti-abortion laws prior to Roe v. Wade were not based on fetal personhood. Under a "human life amendment," we would have a whole new body of law, with women and doctors facing murder charges. In Wisconsin, our Criminal Abortion Ban that pre-dates Roe and is still on the books, includes a penalty of up to 3.5 years in jail for women who have an abortion, including women who perform an abortion on themselves.
Anti-Choice Statement: States should make all decisions regarding abortion. We should at least pass a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v. Wade.
Pro-Choice Response: Constitutional rights are for all Americans, not just those in states where legislators refuse to outlaw abortion. A "states' rights" amendment would return women to the days when medically safe abortions were reserved for those who lived in pro-choice states or could pay to travel.
Anti-Choice Statement: Abortion should not be permitted for rape because it is wrong to punish a child for the sin of the father. Besides, pregnancy rarely happens from rape. Women can get immediate medical treatment to prevent pregnancy.
Pro-Choice Response: Some 5% of rape survivors become pregnant. While emergency contraception can decrease the possibility of pregnancy, it is not 100% effective and is only haphazardly offered to victims of sexual assault. Finally, many rapes are not reported immediately, or at all. Abortion is often a necessary recourse for a traumatized woman.
Anti-Choice Statement: Being pro-choice means supporting abortion throughout all 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Pro-Choice Response: Being pro-choice means supporting every woman's right to make informed, responsible decisions about pregnancy and childbearing. "Abortion on demand" is inflammatory rhetoric meant to polarize the debate and suggest that women are frivolous and irresponsible. I support the balance struck in Roe v. Wade, which allows the woman to make the decision about an abortion prior to fetal viability. After viability, states can ban abortion except when the woman's life or health is endangered.
Anti-Choice Statement: If fetal viability is occurring earlier, isn't roe on a collision course with science?
Pro-Choice Response: Roe is not absolute; it is a thoughtful and balanced decision that weighs the interests of the woman and the fetus. Roe allows a woman to make the decision about abortion until viability. After viability, a state can ban abortion except when necessary to protect a woman's life or health. Roe has proved to be a workable decision and I support it. It is interesting to note that the age of fetal viability has not changed dramatically since the Roe decision.
Anti-Choice Statement: Human life begins at conception. Therefore, abortion is the murder of a person.
Pro-Choice Response: There are many different moral and religious views on that question. In a country that embraces and is tolerant of a variety of religious views, it is important to avoid adopting one religious view over another. That is why every woman should have the right to examine her own religious, spiritual and ethical beliefs in deciding what is best for her and her family, rather than allowing the government to impose one view on all Americans.
Anti-Choice Statement: The fetus is in no real sense "part" of the mother, but is a separate and distinct human being.
Pro-Choice Response: The fetus is totally dependent on the woman until viability, when it could live outside the womb, and it depends on the woman until it is born. The health of the fetus is directly related to the health of the pregnant woman, which is an additional reason why we need to work for policies that promote healthy childbearing.
Anti-Choice Statement: When do you think life begins?
Pro-Choice Response: The question is really when legal personhood begins. Eggs and sperm are alive; so are bacteria and all plants and animals. Of course, embryos and fetuses are alive. That doesn't mean, though, that abortion should be illegal or that it constitutes murder. The Supreme Court has said and I believe that legal personhood begins with birth. The Roe v. Wade decision allowed states to ban abortion after the fetus could live on its own, after viability, with certain exceptions, but it did not say that a viable fetus was a legal person.
Anti-Choice Statement: The right of the unborn to live supersedes any right of a woman to "control her own body."
Pro-Choice Response: We shouldn't trivialize a woman's right to control her own body. Margaret Sanger said, "No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body." The Supreme Court has recognized that the right to choose is tied to women's progress in all spheres of life.
Anti-Choice Statement: Pro-abortion people insist that the fetus is nothing but a worthless blob of tissue. They refuse to face the fact that there is a miniature person in that womb.
Pro-Choice Response: No thoughtful person denies that the fetus is a potential person. We do maintain, however, that abortion is a moral choice made by a woman based on her moral beliefs and that every woman must be free to choose. At the same time, we work for solutions to reduce the number of abortions, such as by promoting access to contraception and responsible sexuality education.
Anti-Choice Statement: I've seen pictures of highly developed fetuses, bloody abortions, tiny feet, fetuses in garbage cans. It's obvious that abortion is the killing of a baby.
Pro-Choice Response: Anti-choice visual materials are often grossly enlarged, undocumented and mislabeled. They are cleverly designed to evoke emotions of repulsion against abortion and sympathy toward the fetus. We should not take away women's rights because we are repelled by sensationalized images.
Anti-Choice Statement: We should pass a "human life amendment" to the Constitution, declaring the unborn to be full persons from the moment of conception.
Pro-Choice Response: If "person" were defined as beginning at conception, then women's bodies, rights and health would be subordinated to the protection of the fetus. No abortions would be permitted for any reason, including rape, incest, or the health of the woman. Decisions about reproductive choice are so fundamental that every individual must determine for herself what is the right decision.
Anti-Choice Statement: Abortion is mass murdergenocideon the order of the Nazi Holocaust. Six million abortions are the same as six million Jews; abortion is "America's Holocaust."
Pro-Choice Response: Anti-choice groups and individuals often use inflammatory rhetoric to make their case, as when they call abortion an American holocaust. The fact is that legal abortion protects women's health and saves women's lives.
Anti-Choice Statement: Stem cell research destroys embryos that are human lives. We should ban this research.
Pro-Choice Response: Embryos are a cluster of cells with the potential to develop into a human life if implanted into a woman's womb and brought to term. The embryos used in this research are from couples that have had successful fertility treatments. If not used for this purpose, they would be discarded. Many individuals who oppose abortion believe that stem cell research -- with its potential to save thousands of lives -- is actually the "pro-life" position.
Anti-Choice Statement: Aren't fetuses surviving at younger and younger ages?
Pro-Choice Response: In some cases, medical advances enable infants born prematurely to survive. Such advances are consistent with my pro-choice beliefs, as I believe that we need to do more to ensure that women have a range of reproductive options, including healthy childbearing. However, such advances should not undermine the basic right of every woman to make her own reproductive choices, including abortion prior to viability.
Reproductive Choice as a Threatened Right
Anti-Choice Statement: I am not a single issue voter. I'm pro-choice but other issues are a lot more important to me.
Pro-Choice Response: I agree that other issues are important. But no right is as threatened as reproductive choice. Both the House and Senate are anti-choice and voted repeatedly to restrict reproductive choice. For me, choice is a touchstone issue that reveals a great deal about a candidate. It tells whether the candidate trusts women to make their own choices, and values women's lives and health and the progress we've made since Roe v. Wade. Choice is in peril, so it's an issue I look for in a candidate first.
Anti-Choice Statement: I'm not pro-abortion; I'm pro-life.
Pro-Choice Response: I am pro-choice, not "pro-abortion." I support reproductive freedom, which means that an individual woman should be able to make her own choice, whether she chooses abortion or carries her pregnancy to term. The "pro-life" concerns of abortion foes are too often only for fetal lives, not the lives of women or unwanted babies. "Pro-life" is a term used to make the anti-choice and anti-abortion position seem positive and good. Interestingly, some people who consider themselves personally "pro-life," in that they believe they would not have an abortion are also pro-choice, because they think the individual woman should decide.
Anti-Choice Statement: Abortion is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. Where do pro-abortionists get the idea that abortion is a constitutional right?
Pro-Choice Response: The Constitution protects many rights that are not specifically mentioned, but are derived, as the Supreme Court has affirmed, from other rights. Examples of this are the right of free association and the right to travel. The right to privacy has been repeatedly interpreted to include matters of marriage, family, and sex, including the right "to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision to bear or beget a child."
Anti-Choice Statement: The right to choose is a settled issue. Pro-choice groups are just crying wolf and trying to raise lots of money.
Pro-Choice Response: I wish it were a settled issue. But the Supreme Court is one vote away from undermining Roe v. Wade. Both houses of Congress are dominated by anti-choice lawmakers and have repeatedly voted to restrict reproductive rights in the past few years. States across the country are poised to criminalize abortion if the Court overturns Roe, and states are already enacting numerous restrictions on reproductive freedom and choice. Meanwhile, many doctors are terrified by anti-choice violence and won't offer women full reproductive health care, including abortion.
Laws Regulating Abortion
Anti-Choice Statement: But what about those women who have five, six or seven abortions enough is enough.
Pro-Choice Response: We should encourage people to be responsible about using birth control, and I support measures to make contraception more available to reduce the number of abortions. But it's not for me or for the government to decide when a woman should have an abortion. And I certainly don't think that women should be "punished" by forcing them to bear children they are ill equipped to raise.
Anti-Choice Statement: I'm against abortion on demand.
Pro-Choice Response: No one is forced in this country to have an abortion, or to provide one. That's the way it should be. So a woman can't just "demand" an abortion. But if what you're saying means that you think a woman should have to overcome lots of hurdles in order to exercise her right to choose, we disagree. It's hard enough for her to have to weigh her options at a difficult time; the government shouldn't add obstacles on the assumption she can't reason about moral issues for herself.
Anti-Choice Statement: Women have abortions for their own convenience, for trivial reasons, or on a "whim."
Pro-Choice Response: Women have abortions for lots of different reasons, and it's not my place, or the government's, to decide what reason is "good enough." She may not have the partner she feels she needs to raise a child; she may wish to continue her education and career; she may be too poor to take care of a child; she may feel unprepared emotionally to give the infinite love and care every child deserves. I know I don't want the government deciding who deserves to exercise the right to choose and who doesn't.
Anti-Choice Statement: It is wrong to allow women to choose an abortion without the father's consent. What about a man's right to choose?
Pro-Choice Response: The Supreme Court said that when a husband and wife disagree, only one view can prevail, and it should be hers because she "physically bears the child and she is more directly and immediately affected by the pregnancy." The Court reaffirmed this holding in 1992. Although many women do consult their male partner when considering an abortion, circumstances of abuse, rape, or incest prevent some women from involving their partner. The woman -- not the government -- is in the best position to determine whom she should consult.
Anti-Choice Statement: Mandatory waiting periods between counseling and an abortion allow women to make an informed decision about abortion. These laws are passed to protect women and are not a barrier to choice.
Pro-Choice Response: Anti-choice activists advocate for mandatory waiting periods to dissuade women from having an abortion. The waiting periods associated with so-called "informed consent" laws bear especially heavily upon women who must travel far to reach their nearest provider, and must spend additional time away from school, work and family. Like other anti-choice restrictions, these laws discriminate against women who are poor or live in rural areas; they are also an insult to all women because they imply that women do not think carefully about their decision unless they are required by law to do so.
Anti-Choice Statement: Restrictions on abortion are made to protect women from coercion, danger and grief that may plague them their whole lives.
Pro-Choice Response: Laws restricting abortion are passed by anti-choice lawmakers who have the goal, not of protecting women, but of discouraging women from exercising their right to choose. There is no scientific evidence that legal abortion harms women physically or psychologically. Indeed, if anti-choice advocates wanted to promote women's health, they would stop stigmatizing abortion and the women who choose it. We should do more to reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion by supporting family planning and responsible sexuality education.
Anti-Choice Statement: If you have sex, you should expect to get pregnant and pay the consequences.
Pro-Choice Response: It is certainly advisable to increase awareness about sexuality and its consequences, and increase access to contraception, but the responsibilities of motherhood are too great, and children are too priceless, to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.
Anti-Choice Statement: There should be no unwanted pregnancies in a society where contraception is readily available. Women who get pregnant are irresponsible about contraception and use abortion as contraception.
Pro-Choice Response: No birth control method is perfectly reliable, and many women cannot use the most effective methods for medical and economic reasons. Contraceptive information and services are frequently withheld from teens and poor women, and leading family planning programs are woefully underfunded. We should redouble our efforts to promote family planning, not outlaw abortion.
Anti-Choice Statement: The abortion rights movement is only about abortion and has no position on contraception.
Pro-Choice Response: The prevention of unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion are both goals of the pro-choice movement. To this end, we favor increasing access to contraception and family planning programs as well as responsible sexuality education to give young people the tools they need to protect themselves. Unfortunately, too often, the same groups that oppose abortion also oppose these common sense, preventive measures that make abortion less necessary.
Anti-Choice Statement: The "morning-after pill" is really an early-term abortion.
Youth: Sexual Education, Contraception and Abortion
Anti-Choice Statement: Making contraceptives and abortion available to teenagers only encourages them to have sex.
Pro-Choice Response: Studies show that increased access to contraception does not increase sexual activity. While we believe that abstinence is an important option for teens, reality dictates that contraceptives and abortion be available to help prevent sexually active teens from becoming parents or acquiring sexually transmitted diseases.
Anti-Choice Statement: Teaching kids about birth control gives them the message that it is okay to have sex. We need to have abstinence-only sex ed to teach appropriate moral lessons about sex.
Pro-Choice Response: Abstinence-only sex education directly endangers teens by withholding information about contraceptives that can prevent pregnancy and protect them from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Responsible sex education recommends abstinence but allows teens who do become sexually active to protect themselves. Teens who learn about contraception in school have a lower rate of sexual activity than teens who are not given this information.
Anti-Choice Statement: Parents have the right to know if their daughter is having an abortion so they can guide her in moral decisions. Laws requiring minors to obtain parental consent or notification protect minors and strengthen the family.
Pro-Choice Response: We wish that all minors could confide in their parents -- and in fact, the majority of minors do consult their parents about their pregnancy. But it is not possible to legislate good family relations or communication, and attempts to do so cause a delay in medical care and endanger teens' health and lives.
Reproductive Choice and Religion/Morality
Anti-Choice Statement: I'm Catholic, so I'm against abortion. Being pro-choice is anti-Catholic.
Pro-Choice Response: Many Catholics diverge from the official policies of the Church with regard to abortion, contraception and other issues. In a country with people of many religions, I think it's best not to establish one denomination's views as official law for everyone.
Anti-Choice Statement: Outlawing abortion would address the moral decay that is destroying America.
Pro-Choice Response: Legislation cannot create morality. A morally complex issue such as abortion must be left to the individual to make a decision based on personal beliefs.
Anti-Choice Statement: Laws mandating contraceptive coverage should allow religious employers and insurers to avoid covering medical services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs.
Pro-Choice Response: Allowing employers and insurers to deny basic health care coverage such as contraceptives endangers women's health by restricting women's access to reproductive health services. Women, no employers or institutions, should make health care decisions for themselves.
Anti-Choice Statement: Pro-life is pro-family, while pro-abortion is anti-family. Abortion destroys the American family.
Anti-Choice Statement: Adoption, not abortion. There are alternatives to abortion; abortion is never the best solution.
Pro-Choice Response: A woman must be able to decide for herself which option is best for her. Some women do choose childbirth followed by adoption; many others choose single parenthood. For some women, abortion is the decision with which they are most comfortable. We respect the woman's right to decide.
Anti-Choice Statement: There is a lack of adoptable babies today. Willing, capable parents are unable to adopt a baby because abortion is legal.
Pro-Choice Response: Outlawing abortion is not the solution to problems in the adoption system. The woman must decide what is best for herself.
Debunking Myths about Effects of Abortion
Anti-Choice Statement: Abortion is a dangerous, risky procedure that causes injury, infertility and death. Natural pregnancy and childbirth is much safer for the woman.
Pro-Choice Response: Legal abortion is one of the safest, most common surgical procedures available today, safer even than childbirth. Legal abortion entails half the risk of death involved in a tonsillectomy and one-hundredth the risk of death involved in an appendectomy. Anti-choice groups portray abortion as unsafe in an attempt to scare women and deter them from exercising their right to choose. Making abortion illegal their real goal is the true menace to women's health.
Anti-Choice Statement: Abortion causes breast cancer.
Pro-Choice Response: Anti-choice activists, who want to criminalize abortion and thus endanger women's health, use this scare tactic. The New England Journal of Medicine, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the American Cancer Society, and the World Health Organization have concluded that no link has been established between abortion and breast cancer.
Anti-Choice Statement: RU 486 is a chemical method of killing an unborn child that is very dangerous to the woman.
Pro-Choice Response: Mifepristone (also known as RU 486, Mifeprex, and the "abortion pill") is an early non-surgical option for abortion. The FDA approved mifepristone in September 2000 as a safe, effective way of terminating pregnancy.
Anti-Choice Statement: Most unwanted pregnancies become wanted children. Women make big mistakes in having abortions and regret their decision later.
Pro-Choice Response: Women must be free to make their own decision about abortion. It is not always the right choice for every woman, but it must still be her choice to make. Anti-choice groups often try to scare women by telling them they will feel guilty about their choice and regret their decision for the rest of their life, although there is no scientific data to support the assertion that women suffer psychologically from choosing abortion.
Anti-Choice Statement: With the central nervous system already developed, the baby feels intense pain when it is killed by an abortion.
Pro-Choice Response: Nearly 90% of abortions occur in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, long before scientists believe fetuses can feel pain. Although no one knows exactly when pain sensations develop, it appears to be long after nearly all abortions occur. The brain structures and nerve-cell connections that characterize the thinking and feeling parts of the brain are not thought to be completed until 26 weeks of gestation, at the earliest.
Funding for Abortion
Anti-Choice Statement: Abortion has become a multimillion-dollar industry; doctors who perform abortions do so because they make large profits. They coerce women into having abortions in order to make more money.
Pro-Choice Response: Coercing a woman to have an abortion is illegal and wrong every woman should decide for herself whether to have an abortion. Anti-choice activists use the term "abortion industry" to make this aspect of medical practice seem dirty. Doctors who provide abortion services are just that doctors and they should be commended for their courage in the face of threats and violence.
Anti-Choice Statement: I don't want my tax money paying for abortions. Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for what they believe is immoral.
Pro-Choice Response: No individual controls the use of all of his or her tax dollars. The federal government bans the use of taxpayers' funds for most abortion services. Unfortunately, this ban disproportionately affects low-income women, unfairly denying them access to reproductive services and jeopardizing their health. Fortunately, some states allow for state funding of abortion services, but many women live in states where they are denied these services.
Anti-Choice Statement: Our government can't afford to give poor women free contraception and abortion. Poor people who can't pay for their own healthcare just aren't entitled to everything the rich have.
Pro-Choice Response: Reproductive healthcare is not a luxury item; it is a necessary component of women's health care. Since it is less expensive to pay for contraception and abortion than to pay for childbirth and subsequent welfare, the anti-abortion financial argument is invalid as well as inhumane.
Anti-Choice Statement: The "Mexico City policy" is good because it prevents U.S. tax dollars from paying for abortions in other countries.
Pro-Choice Response: Federal law has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion overseas since 1973. The "Mexico City Policy," or global "gag" rule, denies U.S. family planning funds to organizations that use their own money to provide, counsel, or lobby their own government about abortions. This policy amounts to a "gag" on free speech and endangers the health of women who rely on U.S. funds for contraception services. Nearly 80,000 women around the world die of illegal or unsafe abortions every year groups providing family planning must be able to lobby for sensible solutions to this grave problem.
Late Term Abortions
Anti-Choice Statement: Too many women have their abortions late in pregnancy. Women shouldn't wait so long.
Pro-Choice Response: Almost 90% of abortions take place within the first 12 weeks. Ironically, restrictive anti-choice laws often cause delay, and lead to increased numbers of second trimester abortions. In order to reduce the need for abortion, we need to promote access to contraception, emergency contraception and responsible sexuality education.
Anti-Choice Statement: Fetuses aborted late in pregnancy and born alive are left to die or are killed by doctors. We must pass a "Born Alive Infants Protection Act" to protect these babies.
Pro-Choice Response: Newborn infants, born at any stage of development, should be and already are protected by law. We are concerned about protecting a woman's right to choose and are not debating standards of care for newborns.