Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Can you be liberal and anti-abortion?

Note: for the purpose of this post I will be using the words liberal/progressive/democrat interchangeably.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be progressive and if the issues that I consider to fall under this umbrella can be compartmentalized? I think we all know people who say they are “socially liberal but fiscally conservative”. But what about the people who say they are socially liberal EXCEPT when it comes to gay rights, or immigration, or interfaith relationships, OR choice? It confuses me. I see the intersections between all these issues and feel that the core of my being just naturally leans left and innately supports the entire liberal portfolio. So, when I meet these people who are extremely fucking diehard yellow-dog-democratic but then say, “well except I am against abortion” it really throws me for a loop. I understand why the religious right is against abortion. I understand why rich white men are against abortion. I can even understand why people who were adopted are against abortion. I do not get why progressives would be against abortion.

Ok, so maybe I do. I mean, on some level I do get it. A handful of these progressive antis are ridiculously privileged and therefore they can spout off their views from a place of “that-will-never-be-me” (until it is of course…). Progressive people are often idealists and so I can understand how they dream of a world without abortion and have some fantasy where it won’t ever need to happen (keep dreaming).

There are even legitimate groups who are anti-choice but would seem otherwise liberal; how could we forget about our good friends Feminists for Life, Democrats for Life, and my old friends PLAGAL (I wrote about them here)?

Overall though, these liberal antis piss me off. Way more than your usual run-of-the-mill anti. Can someone explain? Has anyone run into this unique brand of anti?

p.s. In case you need a refresher on all the other types of antis, anti-anti spells it out nicely in a previous blog post here


  1. A lot of people hide behind the label "progressive" in order to hide their racism/misogyny/transphobia/etc.. and sadly, a lot of people buy it. I consider myself "progressive", but really, the label itself doesn't mean much to me.

  2. I think PCG has a point. I often say I'm a democrat because of the vernacular where I live, but I'm actually much more left of center than that. Labels, schmabels.

    And I've encountered some folks who are socially liberal but proclaim themselves "pro-life". I suspect what they actually mean is that they don't like the idea of abortion, and if a friend were faced with an unplanned pregnancy they would rally in favor of life, BUT they would likely understand and accept that person's decision if she chose abortion. I figure it has to do with the level of involvement in choice dialog. Most people just aren't engaged in the conversation to the degree that they can intellectualize having to make such a decision. On top of that, they are less able to vocalize their beliefs using the same language with the same understanding as Abortioneers. Example, none of us Abortioneers ever use the term "pro-life", though non-Abortioneers, even pro-choice ones, don't think twice about it.

    That's my take, anyway!


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