Many high school and college students thank their lucky stars for the easily accessible website, while many teachers and professors wish the website would be the next thing hacked and destroyed by Anonymous. Recently, rather than providing solely new facts to be used as filler by some poor procrastinating student, Wikipedia has posed a serious question to its contributors: what, exactly, should we call the two sides of the abortion debate?
Pro-life and pro-choice are the two options thrown around most often, but this implies that there is pro-abortion and anti-choice…which many find offense with. Anti-abortion is okay, but being labeled as anti-choice or pro-abortion has many people seeing red.
“It’s not like anyone likes abortions!” argues Linda Wheeler. “Just because someone thinks a woman should have the right to choose doesn’t mean they enjoy the idea of abortions. Having an abortion is an agonizing and traumatizing thing, but for some women it’s the better option for whatever reason. It doesn’t mean they are going to throw an abortion party, though.”
For this reason, Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee has asked the Wikipedia community to vote on what official labels should be used in their abortion-related articles once and for all. Many people rolled their eyes at this announcement, saying that Wikipedia is just being silly and is wasting their time on this endeavor. There are already terms existent, so why mess with the formula?
The problem with most pre-existing terminology is that they imply that there’s only two sides to the argument. Of course, there are never only two sides to an argument, especially in the case of a topic as controversial as abortion. This leads to labels that are either inaccurate or misleading, and as such often cause more debate than the issue itself.
Let’s look at the term, “pro-life”.
Some pro-lifers believe in protecting all life, no matter how big or how small. This means that just as an embryo is protected and sacred, so are the lives of criminals. To these people, not only should abortion be illegal, but so should capital punishment.
Then there are other pro-lifers, like our good friend Rick Perry. While these individuals believe that a child must be protected from the moment of conception even in instances where the baby will die within minutes of birth or will potentially kill the mother by being carried to full-term, they are less vocal when it comes to those on death row, fighting in wars, or living in poverty and in need of health care.
“Only in America can you be pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-unmanned drone bombs, pro-nuclear weapons, pro-guns, pro-torture, pro-land mines, and still call yourself ‘pro-life’,” says actor and television personality John Fugelsang. Many believe he has a valid point.
Interestingly enough, neither group commonly uses the term “abortion” when referring to itself. This should make for an interesting idea in choices, since once of Wikipedia’s suggestions is that articles reflect the AP style guide and label the two sides “anti-abortion” and “abortion rights”. Many users feel this more accurately represents the current debate, since the abortion controversy has shifted from whether abortions are legal in every state to how accessible they are to women who want or need them.
Other possibilities include “anti-abortion movement” and “abortion rights movement”, “opposition to abortion rights” and “support for abortion rights”, “support for the legalization of abortion” and “opposition to the legalization of abortion”.
Of course, anti-choice and pro-abortion are not up for debate, despite opposing side’s loves of them.
If you’re interested in voicing your opinion on this issue, head over to Wikipedia and cast your vote for which term pairing you feel is most accurate.