I am pro-life

A SYTYCB entry.

I am pro-life.

Yes, my friends, you heard me right: I am pro-life.

I love life. I think it’s pretty great. Awesome, in fact. Sure, there are some downers (I’m not particularly fond of spiders or heights, for example), but overall, I’m generally for the entire concept of being alive.

I love eating Korean food. I like going for long runs with my dog. I absolutely freaking love spending entire days at the beach. Heck, I’m super pro-life for coffee, I start each awesomely pro-life day with a bucket of it!

So why, I ask you, are large swathes of the people in my city, my country, and the world, insisting on telling me that I’m not pro-life? That I’m pro-death? Pro-murder?[1] Simply because I firmly believe in a woman’s right to agency and choice in issues concerning her own body and welfare – her own life?

Well, no more. Nope. We are reclaiming “pro-life.”

The idea occurred to me a couple months ago, sitting in a room with a couple other avowed feminist rabble-rousers and all-around fun pro-life people. We were rehearsing a series of monologues for what we called a “pro-voice” performance, as a counter to a “pro-life” (read: anti-choice) rally taking place in Belfast. The performance was not about taking a stance on the issue, though we are all pro-choice, but about sharing the stories of women who have journeyed to Great Britain to have abortions (it still being illegal in Northern Ireland). As we talked about the likely size of the “pro-life” rally (huge) and the placards they would have (abnormally large and obnoxious), I suddenly got completely fed up with the term “pro-life.”

“Why do they get such a positive-sounding description? It likens them to rainbows and fairy dust and sunshine! I’ve seen those rallies, there is no fairy dust and (it being Belfast) very little sunshine! Plus how can some even be “anti-life”?!

“I’m pro-life! I love life! Life is awesome! Life is the coolest thing that ever happened to me! What they’re doing is not very “pro-life” if you ask me!”

And so, a period in feminist history I shall hereby dub “The Reclamation” was born.

We need to take back the phrase “pro-life.” Those activists are anti-choice, they’re not pro-life. They have no consideration for the quality of “life” of women they want to force to carry unwanted pregnancies to term; no real care for the “lives” of the children who might be born to mothers who weren’t ready, or who might have been coerced, or who just weren’t given a choice. They don’t care about the emotional “life” of a woman at all, if you ask me, especially if you’ve ever been to one of their rallies and heard the things they shout at and about women.

Being pro-life is caring enough to allow others to make their own choices. Being pro-life is defending the rights of all people to live equally. Being pro-life is understanding that life is not straightforward, but beautiful in its complexities and contradictions.

Maybe it’s silly. Maybe it’s slightly trivializing (I hope not). Maybe it won’t change the laws, but it’s protest, and maybe it will change the debate. Maybe once we take away the misleading language, we can have a real conversation.

It may not seem like much, but sometimes a cheeky message from a fellow feminist friend on Facebook about how pro-life they feel because they got a new pair of shoes, or their baby started walking for the first time, or they got a promotion at work, is a subtle reminder the solidarity you share each day in the face of such gut-wrenching opposition.

Now, whenever I’m having a conversation or debate with someone about abortion, I make it a point to gently correct him or her when they say “pro-life.”

“Actually, we’re using the term ‘anti-choice’ now.

I’m pro-life.”


[1] These terms were used by Northern Ireland Assembly members in the only debate ever held on abortion in that chamber.

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