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Monday, January 21, 2013

On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, We're All "Pro-Life"

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Yesterday around 1,000 people gathered in Pioneer Square for a Right to Life rally "memorializing" 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision. Among the crowd of people were several Portlanders holding yellow signs describing some sexual methods and resources that are proven to reduce unwanted pregnancies:


This was some mischievous culture jamming on the part of some local "pro-life, anti-abortion" folks. The signs play on an language dynamic that's bedeviled abortion rights' supports for decades, leading Planned Parenthood to declare last week that it's no longer using the term "pro-choice."

This means Planned Parenthood has essentially declared linguistic bankruptcy. They're filing Chapter 11 on the whole "pro-life" "pro-choice" semantic mess and hoping to start from scratch. But can Americans really move away from labels as shorthand for the personal, complex issues behind reproductive rights protests and policies? Describing how we all feel on the issue would take a paragraph each. Despite Planned Parenthood's ambitious effort to move beyond labels altogether, I expect that if "pro-choice" is out, a new label will emerge to take its place. Any ideas?

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