Poor-Choice (Abortion) Advocates Exposed
New Rhetoric Erodes "Pro-Choice" Influence

David C. Reardon
Elliot Institute
PO Box 7348
Springfield, IL 62791-7348 U.S.A.
Reproduced with Permission

They call themselves "pro-choice" advocates. But in fact, as our research over the last twenty years has shown, what they are really selling women is a "poor choice." Women who make the choice to have an abortion subsequently face an elevated risk of death from all causes (especially suicide), more depression, more substance abuse, more delivery problems in later pregnancies, more divorces, more breast cancer . . . and the list goes on and on. (See Research and Testimonies at www.PoorChoice.org.)

But it is especially important to note that there is no evidence that abortion is ever a good choice. Specifically, there is not a single known statistically validated study demonstrating that abortion generally makes women's lives better. The only claims of benefits are anecdotal -- and even in these cases, the women often say that while they don't regret having chosen abortion, they have struggled with it, or at best, have not had any major problems "yet." Given the fact that women who suffer emotional reactions to abortion often suppress these emotions, this anecdotal evidence is very weak indeed.

This is why the professional poor-choice advocates at the National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood, NOW, and "NARAL Poor-Choice America" prefer not to talk about how the abortion choice affects the average woman. Instead, they prefer to focus on the idea that what is most important is having a choice--even the poor choice of abortion. They seem to believe that the liberty to make any choice (even an uninformed, dangerous, or regrettable choice) is more important than the goal of having a happy and healthy life.

For example, following media interviews with women who have described the horrors their abortions wrought in their lives, I have heard Planned Parenthood representatives smugly say: "But at least she had a choice. While a few women may have a few regrets, what is important is to protect the right of every woman to make her own choice."

Words Make a Difference

When asked what he would do to set the world right, Confucius said, "I would insist on the exact definition of words." He was right.

Words matter. That's why most of the professional "poor-choicers" will never say that ugly word for failure -- abortion. Instead, they will always substitute the word "choice" for abortion. This is deliberately done in order to distance listeners' minds from the ugly reality of abortion, which is actually being discussed.

Choice, choice, choice. Poor-choicers pound away at this mantra of "choice" in an unrelenting effort to enthrall their listeners with a warm, fuzzy desire to protect the ideal American liberty without ever actually weighing the costs of the choice that is being offered -- an ugly, dangerous abortion.

Abortion is not a liberating, healthy choice. In most cases, women who submit to abortions only do so in response to the pressures of circumstance (or other people). Often, they simply feel that they have "no choice" but the poor choice of abortion.

The simple truth is that for most women, abortion costs much more than the $400 collected by their abortionists. Abortion actually costs women far more than can measured. Millions of women are paying for their abortions each day in the form of intractable heartache, clinical depression, anxiety, substance abuse, self-destructive behavior, impacted guilt, increased difficulties with marriage and parenting, infertility, miscarriage, and premature births leading to disabilities in their later born children -- to name just a few of the many complications commonly linked to abortion.

Use the Poor-Choice Mantra

Would you please join me in an effort to erode the power of the "pro-choice" mantra? All you need to remember are two words: poor-choice. Just substitute these two words into every place where "choice" or "pro-choice" would be used by poor-choicers.

This simple rhetorical technique will instantly reframe the issue. The question is no longer whether abortion is a choice. The key question is whether abortion is a good choice or a bad choice.

Forget about using the "pro-abortion" label. Save it only for those special occasions when it applies to people who clearly do want to promote abortion, even if it hurts women (see below). Instead, always use the term "poor-choice."

If the phrases "poor-choice," "poor-choice advocates," and "poor-choicers" are repeated constantly, in every arena of the abortion debate, they will soon seep into the subconscious mind of every American. The similarity in sound to "pro-choice" is especially powerful in linking the two ideas. After hearing the phrase "poor-choice" often enough, even abortionists will begin to struggle with "poor-choice" popping into their heads when they are trying to say pro-choice!

Poor-choice rhetoric is also a good lead-in to the "women deserve better" message. Used together, these slogans emphasize the fact that those of us who are opposed to abortion really DO care about women. We really do believe that abortion is a poor choice and women deserve better.

Know Your Audience

Remember, not all poor-choice defenders are the same. It's useful to recognize that there are three basic reasons people will identify themselves as being "pro-choice."

First, there is the relatively small group of people who actually want to promote abortion for personal gain, regardless of how it affects women. In this group are the abortionists who sell the "abortion helps" lie for the money.

A larger number of people in this first group want to promote abortion as a means of social engineering. These are the population control zealots and bigots who tell the "abortion helps" lie to suppress birth rates, especially among the poor and women of color. For these eugenicists, abortion is just an integral part of the strategy that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger advocated: to reduce poverty, reduce the birth rate of the poor.

Abortionists and population control advocates are truly pro-abortion. They actually want to see more abortions performed in order to either increase their profit margins or to advance their social-engineering agenda.

Second, there is a much larger group of people who identify themselves as being "pro-choice" because they believe the pro-abortionists' lies and honestly think abortion can benefit women. A large segment of this groupmay vocally defend the poor-choice position because they have been personally involved in poor-choice decisions themselves. Their views are shaped by their emotional needs, not a rigorous scientific investigation of whether or not abortion actually benefits women. Whether they have had abortions themselves or have encouraged or supported someone else's abortion decision, many people in this group want to believe--and many even need to believe-- that "The abortion didn't hurt anyone. Hopefully it made everyone's lives better. If not, let's just forget the past and all try to be happy."

Finally, there is the third group of people who will describe themselves as pro-choice simply because they believe that is the most socially acceptable position to hold. Most of the people in this group naively believe that "abortion helps women" simply because they have never thought deeply enough about the issue to develop an informed opinion. They're busy with other things. What do they know about whether abortion is good or bad for women? This complacent group calmly allows their opinions to be shaped by the poor-choice pushers in the major media. As long as they are never challenged to question the claim that abortion is a good solution to problem pregnancies, they are content to leave the choice up to each individual woman. Notably, when women in this group find themselves facing a problem pregnancy, they will be inclined to follow the lead of the "expert" family planning counselors who are almost always pro-abortion pushers.

Using the poor-choice rhetoric presents a different challenge to each of these three groups. For pro-abortionists who promote abortion as a means of personal gain or social engineering, the poor-choice rejoinder directly challenges their lie that abortion helps women.

For the second group, the misinformed defenders of abortion, the poor-choice rhetoric appeals to their authentic concern for women. It actively challenges them to examine when, if ever, abortion is a good choice. Even if they continue to believe it is sometimes a good choice, it focuses their attention on the many cases when women are exploited by the abortion industry and suffer grave emotional and physical complications. The poor-choice rhetoric will especially resonate with the women who have had abortions, even if they still believe it is sometimes a "necessary evil." These women know, first hand, that abortion is an ugly, regrettable choice. While many may have psychological or ideological reasons to continue to argue that this poor choice must still be kept available to women (to avoid a return to "back-alley abortions," for example), they will also be inclined to admit that abortion is a poor choice and women deserve better.

Finally, remember that the third group of complacent followers is easily influenced by slogans and cultural norms. While it is difficult to motivate this group to carefully investigate the health risks of abortion, consistent use of the poor-choice rhetoric by anti-abortion activists and politicians will nonetheless be incorporated in the portion of their minds where simple slogans shape their superficial opinions. By repetitive exposure to the poor-choice label in the context of the abortion debate, we can create mental links that automatically associate abortion with the idea that it is a poor choice.

Becoming Consistent Defenders of Women

It should be the goal of every Christian to defend the authentic rights and dignity of both the born and the unborn. In regard to the women and men who have been involved in abortions, it is especially our duty to be boldly compassionate and persistent in our efforts to spread the good news of God's mercy and healing. To be effective in reaching out to those scarred by abortion, we must demonstrate, most especially by our acts rather than just our words, that we truly do care about women (far more than the pro-abortionists), both before and after an abortion.

Before an abortion, we will always be there to help them make the best choice, the choice for life. But if they have had an abortion, we will still always be there for them, to offer understanding, help, compassion, friendship and the example of Christ's merciful love.

This message of mercy is at the heart of the Gospel. By His ready willingness to meet and eat with public sinners, Christ showed us that every soul is worth saving, every person is worth our respect and friendship. So, we who are followers of Christ are also required to spread the good news of God's love and forgiveness by our own acts of understanding, love, and mercy.

Remember, also, that our facts are not as important as our acts. Proclaiming the truth that abortion hurts women will accomplish little unless we use this understanding to guide us in serving women. Our complete message, in word and deed, must be, "Abortion hurts women, and we're the ones who care."

When pro-life Christians believe and act on this message, we will finally expose the "pro-choice" myth for the poor-choice reality it truly is. To learn more about the risks of abortion and how it harms far more women than it helps, and to learn how you can help post-abortive women and men find healing, go to the most comprehensive web site regarding post-abortion complications at www.AfterAbortion.org.

When pro-life Christians believe we will finally expose the "pro-choice" myth for the poor-choice reality it truly is. To learn more about the risks of abortion and how it harms far more women than it helps, and how to help post-abortive women and men find healing, go to the most comprehensive web site regarding post-abortion complications available: www.AfterAbortion.org.

Notice: "Additional material is posted at http://www.afterabortion.org"