Blog for Choice day has come and gone, and there’s a lot of great posts. I’m very excited that a lot of feminists have taken this opportunity to interogate and question the usefulnes of ‘choice’ as a slogan, goal, or analysis. I have lots of ideas about this, and hopefully I’ll get round to writing about some of them soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to write about one tiny corner of those issues.
When abortion battles were fought and won (or lost, in New Zealand’s case – but we won the wore), they weren’t fought using the term ‘pro-choice’.
The feminist slogan was: “A woman’s right to choose.”
The most obvious thing we’ve lost in the compacting of the slogan to a label is the woman. The feminist slogan put women at the centre of our argument.
The term pro-choice, also steps back from demanding our rights, and phrasing those rights as anything which interferes with making the choices we wish to make. I believe that charging women fees for abortion interferes with her right to choose, just as surely as making her get her abortion signed off by two doctors.
The phrase pro-choice is too wishy-washy, too vague, and too open to the idea that it’s the ability to choose that matters, rather than the quality of the options. The choice between continuing and unwanted pregnancy or working as a prostitute to pay for an abortion is a choice some women have to make, in places where abortion isn’t funded by the state. That doesn’t mean I’m for that choice. Other women have to have abortions because they can’t afford the time off work that would come with pregnancy. Again I’m not pro-that choice. As a feminist part of what I want is to ensure that women don’t have to spend their lives choosing between two shitty options.* In the meantime I will fight to ensure that women themselves are able to decide which shitty option they think is better, but that’s not my end-goal.
So maybe I’m not pro-choice after-all – I think I’ll ditch the short-hand – waste the extra syllables and make sure I always say that I believe in a woman’s right to choose.
* I’m not saying (and don’t believe) that abortion is always a shitty option, but that it can be, for some women under some circumstances.