I’m not “pro-choice” — I’m pro-abortion. As far as I’m concerned, subsidized Plan C should be handed out on street corners, and any hospital that prohibits their staff from performing abortion (or sterilization) should not be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement1. Late-term abortions are sometimes medically necessary, and it’s a god damned horror and shame that women have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to get that life-saving procedure.
Politically, there is no point in soft-pedaling reproductive freedom because there are no abortion swing voters. No member of the uterine gestapo will vote for a pro-choice Democrat because that Democrat wrings their hands over the tough decision of having an abortion, or wants some sort of limits on abortions over-and-above what Roe provided. Being weakly pro-choice is seen, rightly, as weakness by potential voters, and Democrats’ inability to codify Roe is something we need to overcome in order to energize pro-choice voters2.
On the personal level, I know that abortion is a tough choice for a lot of women, and that many are carrying shame about their abortions. But there are also women who feel fine about their choice, and tepid, hand-wringing pro-choice rhetoric that implies that abortions are perhaps necessary, but certainly evil, isn’t fair to them. One of the most revelatory conversations about abortion that I’ve ever had was also the shortest: the mother of one of my daughter’s friends just matter-of-factly stated that she had had an abortion in college. This was in the context of talking about our kids, and she had no shame about her decision. Are tepid pro-choicers being sensitive to women like her when their rhetoric consistently implies that abortions are a horrible choice? I don’t think so.
Finally, whenever some stupid centrist or concern troll complains about the loud protests that have been and will be happening around abortion rights, let’s remind them of the fucking assholes who have plagued every Planned Parenthood in the nation, hassling women with pictures of dead fetuses and chants of “baby killer.” Let’s also remind them that there’s a reason that Planned Parenthood clinics look like fucking bunkers — it’s because some self-appointed lords of the cervix threw bombs and shot doctors.
In short, being loud and proud about pro-choice is a winning strategy, and the Democrats who don’t see that need some polite but firm phone calls and letters from their constituents reminding them of that fact. More importantly, every god damned Republican who is trying to run away from the death and destruction that their court has wrought needs to have it thrown back at them every day by their Democratic opponents. Nice time is over.
1Catholic hospitals don’t allow physicians to tie tubes during a C-section, requiring another procedure at another hospital, nor right after delivery (when it’s an easier, safer procedure), again requiring a more difficult procedure at another hospital.
2I know the reason that we haven’t codified Roe — we didn’t have pro-choice majorities and we still can’t overcome the filibuster. (Here’s AOC explaining that succinctly on her Instagram stories in case you think she’s unreasonable.) I’m afraid a dry recitation of political reality doesn’t erase the overarching fact that the party that has been “fighting” for reproductive freedom for 50 years didn’t close the deal. We need to convince skeptical non-voters that we can do it this time.