Should We Call ANYBODY “Pro-Abortion?”

I respond to a listener who asks if we should at least use the term “pro-abortion” when referring to extremists who injure or kill pro-life people.

This is my third post in a series that responds to follow-up questions about a recent discussion I led on Life Report about what terms to use in abortion dialogues. We focused most of the debate on the labels “pro-abortion” vs. “pro-choice.”

I was joined by Steve Wagner from Justice For All and Gabi Vehrs from the Fresno City College Students for Life club. We all agreed that pro-life advocates should generally use the term “pro-choice” when beginning a dialogue, even though many pro-life people see that as an inaccurate “weasel word.”

If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d encourage you to watch the entire discussion below or download the audio version here.

Here is one of the responses we got to the discussion, from someone named Ashlen:

Hey, I was watching this episode and I agreed with a lot of it. I usually use the word “pro-choice” when talking with people. I was wondering what you think of using “pro-abortion” in extreme cases, like the thing that happened a few weeks ago where all the topless women tried to break into the church in Argentina, or when some pro-choice people resort to injuring or killing pro-lifers. I know these instance are rare but when I do talk about them I usually refer to them as “pro-abortion.”

I know that as a pro-life person I don’t like when people describe those who kill abortionists and bomb clinics as “pro-life,” so I imagine that those who describe themselves as pro-choice also wouldn’t want these people referred to as “pro-choice.”

What do you think about using “pro-abortion” in the really extreme cases?

I don’t know enough about the motivations of the topless women in Argentina or other violent pro-choice people to label them “pro-abortion.” Perhaps those people are violently pro-abortion-choice. In other words, they might not think abortion is a good thing, but they believe it should be available so strongly that they violently act against churches or people they perceive as endangering that right.

If I could talk to one of the Argentinian protesters in an environment where she wasn’t spraypainting me, I would ask her a bunch of questions about her views, and use whatever label she preferred if there was no way to keep all the labels out of our conversation.

That way we could focus on the real issues: What is the moral status of the unborn? How should we treat them? Does a pregnant woman’s bodily rights supercede the rights of the unborn to live?

Is there anyone who is pro-abortion? Sure. I’ve heard people say that abortions should be forced on people in certain circumstances. I’ve heard people say that abortions should not be more rare but should happen more often, usually for economic reasons or overpopulation concerns. They are truly pro-abortion.

Would I call them that to their face? No, because I can’t think of a reason that calling them a label would help my conversation get to the real issues.

My answer is that yes, there are some truly “pro-abortion” people, although I think they are a narrow subset of pro-abortion-choice people, yet I can’t think of a single scenario where it would be beneficial for me to use the label “pro-abortion” in a conversation with them.

The post Should we call ANYBODY pro-abortion?” originally appeared at JoshBrahm.comClick here to subscribe via email and get exclusive access to a FREE MP3 of Josh Brahm’s speech, “Nine Faulty Pro-Life Arguments and Tactics.”


Josh Brahm is the President of Equal Rights Institute, an organization that trains pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively.

Josh uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

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  • What you call someone to their face depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Let’s leave that question aside for now and just think about “pro-abortion” in terms of descriptive accuracy alone.

    Though I’m not prepared to present a rigorously-documented case for this view, I have the impression that a lot of strong pro-choicers are surprisingly resentful of crisis pregnancy centers. They seem to resent it whenever they hear a story of an abortion-minded woman who gets sidetracked on her way to have an abortion, and instead chooses life.

    Crisis pregnancy centers actually operate within a pro-choice framework. They at most try to influence choices, not to overturn pro-choice laws. So they are not “endangering that right” (to choose). Pro-choicers simply being strongly “pro-abortion-choice” is not enough to explain their reacting emotionally against such centers, or trying to restrict the activities of those centers, or trying to influence Google to lower the profile of those centers. If I’m correct that there are such pro-choicers, don’t they seem to be pro-abortion?