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Don't accept their framing of it: call them what they are, not what they pretend to be. Especially since a good proportion of "pro-lifers" (though not all, by any means) are pro-life until birth and your-own-your-own-unless-we-execute you thereafter.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 08:30:20 AM EST
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Yes, Anne Widdecombe was in my mind when I read your comment. I agree.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 08:38:26 AM EST
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I did consider which term to use to describe them, but thought it simply better to use the self-appellation. I think that whichever term is used arguments need to be put, and calling them 'misogynistic bastards' might be fun, it would be nothing more than a rhetorical point if left unproven.

Execution is another interesting topic, and certainly the irony of some people being both anti-abortion and pro-capital punishment is astounding. I personally think they come from very different causes, with advocates of capital punishment unable or unwilling to analyse their own society and therefore the nature of criminality. But that's for another time.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 10:42:29 AM EST
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"pro-life" is just an assertion as well.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 10:45:06 AM EST
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"pro-life" is just an assertion as well.

And it's inaccurate and dishonest because it implies, subliminally, that any opponent is "pro-death".

I'm not even completely comfortable with allowing them the framing "anti-abortionists", because it implies I am "for" abortion, which is a sly distortion of the truth that I am in favour of the right to choose.

We shouldn't give such easy ground by letting others manipulate the language of the debate.

For what it's worth, in my opinion, "Anti-choice" has the benefit of being entirely accurate and frames the debate around the central issue.

by Sassafras on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 08:18:00 PM EST
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At a demonstration I was at recently (diaried as Pro-choice In Wales) we were accused as being pro-abortion, of it being a pro-abortion demo.

The organisers used the speeches to keep reiterating that it was pro-choice, it was about choice and the right to decide what should happen to our own bodies.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 03:51:58 AM EST
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Perhaps we should refer to the other side as "Pro-control"

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 05:18:12 AM EST
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"Control" is too nebulous.

In that context, and used by a friend, it makes perfect sense.

However, it carries the baggage that "control" can also be regarded as a good and necessary thing applied to prevent harm.

(Think street violence and carbon emissions.)

It would be unwise to gift them that particular subliminal association.

by Sassafras on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 06:07:30 AM EST
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I think that touches on one of the fundamental left:right framing issues.

We try terribly, terribly hard to be fair, and think that rational argument will prevail.

The right goes straight for the emotional jugular, even if they have to distort the facts to do so.

"Pro-life" is emotional.  "Pro-choice" is adult and rational, even though passionately felt.  I suspect it's the right's success in framing their side of the debate in emotional terms that is the only reason this debate isn't properly over.

Perhaps what we need is a snappy label that frames what they're pro as backstreet abortions and control over women's bodies.  

Any ideas?

by Sassafras on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 05:24:16 AM EST
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I've been thinking on that - the rationality aspect.

I remember growing up in Tory heartlands and having my Mother spit with fury whenever Neil Kinnock appeared on the tv.  She was totally irrational in her hatred of him and couldn't come back with any reasonable argument to justify it. It was just fact that he was a vile, evil man. No questions.

But my early introductions to 'the left' gave me the impression that they too were over emotive and irrational in defending their causes.  Demonstrations and marches just for the hell of it, to be disruptive, to have an excuse to shout and rant.  Trade unions striking and bins burning. No room for being reasonable. That's all the left were capable of in my Mother's view and it is a perception that the right still use to vilify the left with.

Certainly with trade unions that perception prevails and it is a big factor in declining membership, especially for younger workers. Perhaps with a 'left wing' Government, these perceptions have been eroded somewhat. Now we are in a better position to have our arguments heard and there is less need to rant and shout and wave placards around because we aren't currently in opposition here.  It seems like we can't win either way.  We mobilise and we are too emotive, we argue coherently and we aren't emotive enough.

And the right continue to be two faced.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 06:35:25 AM EST
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Again, that can be seen as a framing issue.  The right are usually far better than us at framing the debate in their terms.

What was the term applied to all those placard-waving, Russki-loving, Trade-union-bootlicking hysterics? The Loony Left.

Can you think of an equivalently derogatory and repeated phrase for the right wing of that period?  You can't.  It was a masterpiece of framing by the right wing press.

But there was more than that.  Look again at my last-but-one paragraph.  Placard-waving.  Is your first thought "Countryside Alliance"? Every phrase in that sentence is loaded with anti-left associations via frequently repeated references to the Cold War and Winter of Discontent.

That's not to say that the left has always been saintly and victimised.  But there is no equivalent phraseology for the dismantling of our society and infrastructure that took place under Thatcher.  We have failed to create and propagate our own frames.

And the right is still better at this than us.  Could any left-wing demonstration display the spittle-flecked hysteria of the anti-choice brigade without making the national news in a really unhelpful way?

We might not want to play the manipulative frame game.  But we do need to be aware of it so that we can deal with it.  "Pro-choice" was one good counter-step.  

by Sassafras on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 07:19:53 AM EST
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Great points and very true.  Thanks.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 07:47:30 AM EST
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I agree that 'pro-life' and its use does allow them to frame the debate in their terms, but also that 'pro-choice' allows us to do the same thing. I'm sure they would counter that the 'baby' (they love using that word for an embryo) gets no choice, as much as we would say that their beliefs don't consider the woman's rights.

I don't really have any solution to the terminology problem here, hence why I decided to use 'pro-life', as they would consider everything but their self-appellation loaded. I suppose I would expect them to use 'pro-choice' for describing me, if we were having a civilised debate on the matter.

Maybe a good way of showing not only that this is about the woman's right to choose, but also that the opponents of abortion are often misogynist/patriarchal in character, is to use the word 'pro-woman'. Although that would potentially set females and child-bearing as    opposing each other, which is not strictly true.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 12:56:06 PM EST
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Do they use pro-choice? I'm reasonably sure that it's common for the anti-abortion side to use other terms.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 12:58:32 PM EST
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Not always: The Alive and Kicking Campaign - Abortion Petition. (Though the petition itself seems a little bizarre in its notions.)

Besides, even if they were to use a term such as 'pro-abortion' or 'baby-killer' for me, I would still expect them to pose an argument or reason for their stance against abortion. The same rules go for the pro-choice side, that the name used against them is unimportant, it's the arguments which matter.

Had I not used 'pro-life' to describe them, I can still imagine having this debate. There doesn't seem an acceptable way around naming your political opponents (could make a good diary that).

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 01:17:27 PM EST
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At least "pro-choice" was a pretty good way to stall the framing slippery slope, once "pro-life" was established. The frame is that of a fight between two positive values, for once, not a 'real' value against self-centered or loony extremists.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 06:55:43 PM EST
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