On Wednesday afternoon Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC host of Andrea Mitchell Reports, corrected a guest on her show for using the term pro-life. When the guest, Republican strategist Juleanna Glover, started to define herself as “deeply pro-life,” Mitchell immediately countered “What I would call anti-abortion…to use the term that I think is more value neutral.”
Andrea Mitchell challenging Juleanna Glover's "pro-life" terminology
The ideological battle over abortion is at the forefront of our national conversation, to the point that even the underlying terminology is being fervently debated. According to an article on the evolution of popular phrases published in The Ocala Star-Banner on September 15, 1990, a 1976 New York Times article featured the first use of the term “pro-life” as we understand it today. The dueling ideologies of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” became firmly cemented in the wake of Roe v. Wade, as defendants of the decision advocated a woman’s right to choose, and enraged dissidents argued on behalf of the “life” of the unborn fetus.
"Pro-Lifers" h8 "Baby Killers"
The problem with “pro-life” is what it implies about the rest of us: that if you’re not pro-life, you’re automatically pro-death. By framing the abortion debate as an epic battle between life and death, anti-abortion activists demonize their opponents as baby killers, muting "pro-choicers" cogent pleas for reproductive rights. Recently, Planned Parenthood has identified the many problems inherent to today’s reigning abortion terminology. Their studies show that a sizable contingent of women consider themselves “pro-life,” and would never consider getting an abortion themselves, but nevertheless do not believe that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. While these women believe in the value of a fetus’ life, they also believe in reproductive rights—thus occupying an ideological space that is neither exclusively “pro-life” nor “pro-choice.”
By abandoning these entrenched terms, Planned Parenthood hopes to appeal to all women on the basis of reproductive rights. I, for one, can’t believe it’s taken us this long to question rhetoric that necessarily asserts that abortion is murder. Of course, this movement towards unbiased language is unpopular amongst vocal “pro-lifers.” Discussing Ms. Mitchell’s statements on her show, Jeffrey Meyer, a writer for LifeNews.com, attacked the newscaster's “attempt to inject her liberal bias into a discussion of abortion.” Hopefully, someone will explain the definition of “bias” to Mr. Meyer. And, while they’re at it, the definition of “irony.”
Photos via jezebel.com, prolife.com, and aim.org