Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sneaky Pro-Life Bumper Sticker

I saw a bumper sticker in the parking lot on my way in to the office today. I think it subtly says something about the Pro-Life movement. The sticker said, "Thank God Your Mom Was Pro-Life."

My first reaction was that this shows the false belief of the Religious Right that Pro-Choice = Pro-Abortion-In-All-Cases. So it seems that the solution would be to explain that Pro-Choice means exactly what it says. There is a choice that rests upon the mother as to whether or not to have an abortion. For some women and cases, they choose to abort. In others, they don't. So it's simply a misunderstanding that needs clarification.

As I thought more about this, it became clear to me that there is something hidden going on with the bumper sticker, specifically with the language used. It's hidden because every word is capitalized (as is typical of bumper stickers). Using proper capitalization, this sentence can be written in two ways:

Thank God your mom was pro-life.
Thank God your mom was Pro-Life.

The difference is whether your mother was pro-life, implying the literal meaning that she chose to give birth to you, and whether she was Pro-Life, meaning she belonged to the political movement that emphasizes the immorality of abortion and tried to end the legality of it. For the sentence to be true, the first case must apply. There is absolutely no truth to the implication that a Pro-Choice woman could not be a mother. I know plenty of such Pro-Choice mothers. However, it is reasonable to assume that, if your mother gave birth to you, then she chose to do so.

This is when it struck me that the intent of the bumper sticker is political slight of hand. The Pro-Life movement is relying on the truth of the sentence using pro-life to boost their numbers by implying that she was Pro-Life. Thus, most people are Pro-Life and you should be, too.

This is not to say that the intent is purely insidious politics. But rather, I think it's that the Pro-Life movement truly believes that when a woman chooses to be a mother, it is because of the work that they are doing and that the woman ceases to be Pro-Choice at that point. Thus, they have a sincere belief in the truth of the second capitalization of the sentence. So it's also partially an esteem thing. It makes them think that every parent believes the way they do, which would make them in the vast majority of adults.

Either way, the solution is to confront such Pro-Lifers when you get the chance. And let them know that, while you value life, you are Pro-Choice because the choice should be your own. Not someone else's.

1 Comments:

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Everett Volk said...

"I think it's that the Pro-Life movement truly believes that when a woman chooses to be a mother, it is because of the work that they are doing and that the woman ceases to be Pro-Choice at that point."

You know, the corollary to this point is that pro-choice women will always abort their fetuses. This is, of course, demonstrably false. My mother, for example, is profoundly pro-choice and yet, somehow, she managed to bring three Volks to term.

I think what that bumper sticker highlights above all else, is the stark, manichean lens through which these people view the world.

Good post!

 

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