Pro-life/Pro-choice, what’s the difference?


One lesson that anyone learns from life is that nothing is ever black and white. So why then, when it comes to possibly one of the most divisive social and moral issues, are people sorted so resolutely into an either/or camp?

Is it in fact possible to be pro-choice because you are pro-life?

When I am asked to state my position on the matter, I give my honest stance. I am pro-choice. As soon as someone states that they are pro-choice, they are subjected to a barrage of abuse and the usual rhetoric of “Baby-murderer, child-slaughterer” ad nauseum. I am a Conservative pro-choice proponent. I am not, as some people would like you to believe, ‘Pro-abortion.’ I believe that every chance should be given to the unborn child to survive and the parents given access to all the other alternatives, but that ultimately abortion could be an option to explore where there is no other choice.

There’s an underlying assumption that because someone is pro-choice they endorse a systematic approach of extermination of all newly conceived life.

Recently, a number of my close friends and relatives have had the utter joy of bringing a child into the world, all in different circumstances, and each are proud, happy, doting parents of newborn children, free from all the stresses of the world that they will be subjected to in 20 years.

Make no mistake about it, a family giving birth to a child is a fantastic happening. Each and every time I meet someone I know who has had a child, I congratulate them and wish them all the best with what will be the hardest, but most rewarding endeavour they will ever achieve. I have never looked at someone who has had a child, even in difficult and complicated family, marital, financial circumstances and thought, let alone ever said, “Maybe you should have had this kid aborted.”

For some though the picture is not so pretty. I was confronted recently by the argument, and I quote verbatim, “If a woman doesn’t wanny get pregnant, she should just keep her legs closed!”

I’m a fan of never arguing with an idiot, because they’ll only drag you down to their level and beat you through experience. But here we go anyway.

A lot of women who have abortions are in fact trying for a child, in a lot of cases it’s not through lack of birth-control, contraception, lack of family planning etc. Cardiac disease, General tract sepsis, Ectopic pregnancy, Postpartum hemorraging, Pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, just some of the myriad of illnesses that cause maternal mortality and where it would be in the best interests of the mother to terminate her pregnancy. Not an easy decision by any standards, but it doesn’t detract from the principle of the greater good, 1 life lost versus 2. But by taking a pragmatic approach to what is a very real problem, somehow labels someone with the stigma of being a murderer. The irony being, that in fact a life is being saved, blurring the line between pro-choice and pro-life. If you want to look at it in that respect, I am pro-life. I don’t believe in some sort of ritualistic slaughter of all children, the sole reason why I am pro-choice is in order to preserve life. The double irony of this being, those that designate themselves pro-life would rather let 2 people die.

These are issues which will affect both mother and baby, but what about issues that only affect the baby? Again, there is an even greater number of illnesses and disabilities which can affect a child. Admittedly, many of these illnesses, birth defects, disabilities are either treatable or, with our health care system, a level of care can be provided to give them a decent lease of life. I know parents, who have had children with several disabilities, and they are no less proud – and rightfully so – of their children and their children lead fulfilling lives.

People often use the above argument but overlook the practicality that often result in foetal death.

  • Multiple gestations
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Genetic abnormality
  • Infection (ie, parvovirus B19, CMV, Listeria)
  • Hydrops

With medical advancements hopefully these illnesses can be prevented or at least treated. But again the fact remains, that allowing someone to live any longer is only prolonging suffering and by taking a humane approach to end someone’s suffering, is somehow seen as the wrong moral choice. Allegedly one is a monster, when they don’t believe anyone should be subject to inhumane suffering.

Shameless guilt-mongers protest against abortion with a plethora of pictures, including the photoshopped, professionally taken pictures, to give the idyllic image of happy, blue-eyed, laughing babies and perfect family life. And conversely, the all too familiar images of aborted foetuses, which ironically they subject children to.

“We fought arduously for your innocent, vulnerable, impressionable little self to be born, now let’s scare the ever living fuck out of you!”

Their arrogance, usually perpetrated as religious zealots who see themselves carrying out the work of “God”, a benevolent, all-loving creator of all things. How can they try and claim the moral high ground when not only do they wish to further pain and suffering, but actually add to it by trying to guilt someone who has already made a difficult, life-changing decision? Could they just as easily explain this to a rape victim?

To conclude, I find it very easy to say that as a pro-choice I am also pro-life. The hubris and arrogance of so-called pro-lifers! Maybe the monikers should be switched and pro-choice to be renamed pro-life, in the sense of pragmatism, practicality and morality. Whereas pro-life should be changed to, pro-suffering, pro-stigmatisation, pro-stemming of medical research.
Damien Duddy is studying Law and German at Trinity College Dublin. You can follow him on Twitter at @dee_dudd


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