Pro-choice offers a diversity of beliefs

By Esther E. Steeves

Individuals and social groups in Canada have long and hotly debated the pro-life vs. pro-choice controversy. Stereotypically, pro-life support comes from the more conservative groups, like those under religious influence; and pro-choice support generally comes from liberal groups, including feminists. For the purposes of this article let’s define pro-life as the ideology that ultimately offers only one acceptable conclusion: abortion is always wrong. Let’s distinguish pro-choice, on the other hand, as the ideology that supports the right of women to control their own bodies, neither condemning nor condoning abortion, but rather allowing each individual woman to form her own opinions and make her own decisions without outside influence.

The two sides of the argument appear to be in firm and absolute opposition to one another. But, if pro-choice really allows women to choose for themselves what opinions they will form regarding abortion, is it then possible for a pro-life liberal to exist? Moreover, is it possible that pro-choice, on some level, can equal pro-life?

To answer these questions we must first decide whether or not the pro-life ideology can be absolutely adopted by a pro-choice individual or group. Given that a pro-choice group must accept that it is each woman’s right to decide what she believes about abortion, it is therefore impossible for a pro-choice group to support the ultimatum proposed by the pro-life abortion-is-always-wrong mentality.

However, when it comes to personal position, there is no reason why a pro-choice individual need take the stand that abortion is always right. In fact, it is not unreasonable to expect that there are supporters of pro-choice who, while acknowledging the right of women to make their own decisions, have decided they are personally opposed to abortion. These individuals can be considered pro-choice if they do not attempt to judge or influence others because of their stand on the abortion issue.

This being said, it is permissible for a pro-choice individual to oppose abortion, while at the same time refusing to dictate what others should believe. Therefore, it is possible to be a liberal while supporting an ideology similar to pro-life, and on some level pro-choice can equal pro-life. However, those classified as devoutly pro-life cannot be simultaneously classified as pro-choice–or are those who call themselves pro-life but at times condone abortion (be it when the life of a mother-to-be is threatened or otherwise) pro-choice to an extent?

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