Have We Won the Rhetorical Issue on Choice?

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Sarah and Todd Palin’s announcement of their daughter’s pregnancy included this statement:   “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.”

And when John McCain was asked during the 2000 primary what his response would be if his daughter were pregnant, he said:   “it would be a ‘family decision.’   ‘The final decision would be made by Meghan with our advice and counsel,’ McCain said, referring to himself and his wife, Cindy. When reporters suggested that this view made him, in fact, pro-choice, McCain became irritated. ‘I don’t think it is the pro-choice position to say that my daughter and my wife and I will discuss something that is a family matter that we have to decide.’”

Both statements from these pro-life candidates indicate that there is a decision to be made.   Or, using more loaded language, a choice.   Both statements indicate that choice would be made by the people involved – the pregnant woman and, if she wants to include them, her family.   There’s no more accurate statement of the pro-choice position than that.

So, we’ve either won the rhetorical issue, or there really never has been a debate in the first place, at least on the personal level.   Rather, anti-choice individuals are quick to condemn others for making a choice they don’t like, but when their own family (or they themselves) are faced with an unwanted or unwanted pregnancy, most people, including those who label themselves anti-choice, think of it as a choice what to do next.

- David S. Cohen

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0 Responses to Have We Won the Rhetorical Issue on Choice?

  1. nobodyisprodeath says:

    Thank you for this astute observation! This is exactly the irony of a debate in which the two sides characterize themselves as “pro-choice” and “pro-life” but refer to their opponents as “pro-abortion” and “anti-choice.” The fact is that no one is “pro-abortion” in this debate; no one has ever argued that abortion is a good thing – only that women should have a choice. Meanwhile, those who call themselves “pro-life” really should be called “anti-choice,” because they argue that there is no choice to be made at all. So why are social conservatives praising Bristol for “choosing” to bear her child? According to the Christian Right bumper sticker, “a child is not a choice.” Antiabortion advocates would have us believe that once conception has occurred, carrying the pregnancy to term is a moral imperative, and there is no choice to be made at all. And of course, they would like to make such a choice impossible for all of us by making it illegal. But when faced with the question themselves, even “anti-choice” candidates like Palin and McCain inadvertently acknowledge that conception does not HAVE to mean childbearing – it is simply one possible choice. The semantics of the argument prove the point: no matter how much these folks disapprove of abortion, they still believe there is a choice to be made about whether to have one. And that reality is all that abortion-rights advocates have ever fought to protect!

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