In Texas abortion case, has ‘pro-life’ become ‘pro-choice’?

The case of a 16-year-old young woman successfully suing her parents to assure that they will support her choice to … Continued

The case of a 16-year-old young woman successfully suing her parents to assure that they will support her choice to carry her pregnancy to term is a fascinating one. It is a case where anti-abortion advocates base their claim on a woman’s right to choose!

Of course, there are few, if any, issues which rile folks up as much as the issue of abortion, freedom of choice and the dignity of human life. That actually makes sense, especially as the last two are among the most important issues about which people can think. Abortion simply becomes a real world issue where the tension between the two issues plays out.

As we wade into these waters today, let’s see if we can generate more light than heat, even though that’s typically easier said than done. Below are a selection of questions and responses from a live chat held earlier today, along with my response to some of the many comments that we did not address because time ran out.

Question 1:

Might pro-lifers at least stop equating pro-choice with pro-abortion? I don’t know anyone who is pro-abortion. I value life, but I’m pro-choice on this issue because I’m unwilling to judge a fellow woman and label her a murderer if she chooses abortion.

Answer: hirschfieldb

While my views are very much like yours, we need to be careful about two issues you seem to blow past. First, some people judge a woman who chooses abortion because they believe that she has in fact taken a full human life. Were you to believe that the fetus is in fact fully human, then you too would likely judge her to be guilty of manslaughter, if not murder– at least I hope you would. The fact that we do not believe a fetus is fully human does not mean that we can simply or casually dismiss those who do, even as we remain committed to them not being able to compel us to submit to their view.

Second, there are plenty of people who are pro-abortion, as I have come to learn. In fact, I will never forget asking a regional director for Planned Parenthood when was the last time she had recommended a woman carry her pregnancy to term, and she could not recall. It was a chilling and disturbing moment. If the pro-life movement needs to be careful about imposing their views on others, and the certainly do, the same can be said for at least some segments of the pro-choice community.

Question 2:

It seems more likely this was a matter of expediency, a seizure of a particular argument in a particular case than a matter of shifting the basic goals. Is it hypocritical? There is an argument, but neither side is a stranger to that. I am expressing my distaste for how fluid “immutable” beliefs suddenly become when one sees an advantage.

Answer: hirschfieldb

It may be a matter of expediency, but that matter of expediency is a wonderful and teachable moment. It reminds us that even so-called “immutable” principles may in fact, be mutable — under certain circumstances — and that rather that either side fighting for those so-called principles, they should be advocating for values which could be honored in multiple and competing ways.

Interesting, most Americans know this, and that is why we poll out time and again, as being BOTH pro-choice and actively anti-abortion. In other words, the fundamentalists on both sides of this issue, as is the case with so many issues which divide the nation, neither represent our collective view, nor contribute to the making of policy which reflects that view.

Question 3

I’ve always understood the two terms to refer to positions on abortion’s legality, not necessarily on its morality. There are plenty of people who believe abortion is wrong but also believe that it should remain legal, and I consider them to be pro-choice. Do you think that’s the case?

Answer: hirschfieldb

The distinction between what is legal and what is moral can be problematic for two reasons:1, the arguments advanced by both sides in this debate often and often quite purposefully blur that very distinction.2, while we say that we do not legislate morality — generally preferring individual liberty over legislated moral norms — that is clearly not always the case. In fact, we legislate all kinds of moral issues. We simply don’t talk about it as such because we tend to do so when there is broad agreement about the issue and simply assume “that’s just the way things should be.”

In fact, what we need is greater honesty about the fact that we legislate morality all the time — sometimes from the right and sometimes from the left. We could also use a greater level of awareness that such debates are often not between good and evil, but between competing goods — some honored more fully by so-called conservatives and others by so-called liberals.

Question 4:

When I was growing up, I was told that I could have access to birth control at any time with no judgments. If I were to get pregnant, I could chose whatever I wanted without judgment but that my parents would not financially support the baby. They didn’t want to raise any more children. If I could find the funds to care for a child (outside of their home), all the power to me…otherwise, I should get an abortion. I think this is completely reasonable. If you want to make adult decisions, you get to live with the adult consequences.


Let’s be clear, your parents were making many judgments in setting the policy they did, and without judging them, that must be acknowledged. Failing to do so is failing to take responsibility for their own judgments, presumably because judging makes them uncomfortable. Speaking of being adult, they should have taken responsibility for the judgments they were making, as should all folks who hide behind a veil of supposed non-judgmentalism.

Question 5:

I wonder if the term pro life is even accurate, as many of the people in the “pro life” camp are also pro death penalty,


While I may not agree with that stance, it is not inherently hypocritical, much as some like to charge. The stance simply reflects people’s belief that a fetus is a full human who has done no wrong and therefore should not be killed, while a tried and convicted criminal should, under specific circumstances, forfeit his or her life. Not my view, intellectually coherent just the same. Hope that helps.

Brad Hirschfield
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  • rccrawford

    The problem for the pro life camp is that it claims to be pro life, however, in order to be pro life is must choose which life to save. There are 1.8 born babies dying each second and 1.4 abortions per second. Not all can be saved. Therefore one must choose to save either the born life or the fetus. if a person chooses to spend even 1 second saving fetuses then in that second 1.8 born babies will die. So the choice must always be to save born life or one is simply trading the life of a born baby for the life of a fetus.
    There are scientific laws that control abortion, they may be found by searching Naturalabortionlaw on google.

  • dcrswm

    “We’re pro-choice… long as you make the choice we want”…worst kind of people, and they are not pro-life, they’re just anti-abortion.

  • dcrswm

    So “your choice is to carry the pregnancy to term” is somehow a choice of multiple options?

  • nkri401

    The good Christian nation USA used to know how to deal with the children like this one in Texas; kick them out when she got pregnant out of wedlock.

    Looks like another libber who want mooch off the rest hardworking Americans.

  • annpenn1

    “I will never forget asking a regional director for Planned Parenthood when was the last time she had recommended a woman carry her pregnancy to term, and she could not recall.”

    Planned Parenthood does not “recommend” an outcome, either way. They give the facts of the choices (yes, including raising the child and adoption) and help the woman (or couple) clarify what is in keeping with her (their) own principles and situation.

    That said, I do know of cases where young unmarried couples have been asked if they had considered marriage and continuing the pregnancy; sometimes this had led to that outcome.

    For me, being “pro choice” has always been about being able to select either option, to make one’s own choice in keeping with one’s own moral values. In over 40 years of serious attention to this issue I have never encountered anyone in the Pro-choice movement who could be described as “Pro abortion”.

    I HAVE personally experienced the other side of this coin when (pre-Roe) I had a wanted pregnancy that would have killed me if it had continued. Because of restrictive laws at that time my health was compromised – I had to be in a really bad condition before my dr. could legally terminate the pregnancy. Had I died then, my subsequent children and grandchildren would not be here today.

  • cricket44

    Thank you, annpenn. I found that claim to be rather suspect, as well.

  • cricket44

    The hypocrisy of the anti-choice camp is *rank* on this one as they will eagerly support parents forcing their teen to give birth.

  • patriot1

    To annpenn: If you had that abortion and it was unnecessary, you wouldn’t have the children and grandchildren you have today. Aren’t you glad you gave birth?

  • patriot1

    Your ignorance really astonishes me.

  • cricket44

    Yes, Scott, we all know you are into using women as incubators. Tat you share the hypocrisy doesn’t make it less hypocritical.

  • cricket44

    Patriot, necessity is not decided by you.

  • cricket44

    Reading comprehension is awfully tough for you , isn’t it, little guy?

  • cricket44

    In your mind…

  • persiflage

    Going to Texas guarantees an Alice in the Looking Glass moment – where everythig is upside down and backwards. Going to any of these red states only proves that time travel is not a futuristic fantasy, but an every day reality.

    Unfortunatey, one can only travel in reverse…….

  • shanti2

    I liked your post because I thought you had your tongue planted firmly in your cheek, but now I’m not so sure. Should I unlike it?

  • persiflage

    Many cherries fail to become cherry blossoms and one grape does not a vinyard make. Acorns are eaten by wild hogs……
    and so it goes in the natural world.

    And still, there are over 7 billion people in the world today, many of whom are poverty-stricken and without the basic essentials to sustain life.

    Human control over all reproductive processes is an essential element in keeping the world population in check – although unlikely to happen before natural catastrophes in the form of food and water shortages dramatically reduce the global population. Hand of God or Mother Nature? The results are the same……….

  • persiflage

    ‘So you favor infanticide? You are equating the purposeful killing of humans with natural death. You are advocating murder as a natural event……….’

    Here’s what I actually said.:

    ‘Human control over all reproductive processes is an essential element in keeping the world population in check.’

    Scottie, you’re reasoning like a person with a cognitive disorder. Such distorted extrapolations from what I wrote seem to arise from your own pre-conceived notions of what other people believe – and not what they actually say.

    Human culture and available natural resources are unable to sustain the current and growing global population, and you obsess about a woman’s right to control her own reproductive
    processes. Your priorities are all out of whack, podner.