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Gender: Female
Current location: Wisconsin
Member since: Sat Apr 14, 2007, 05:49 PM
Number of posts: 27,985

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I will c&p a reply from my thread on the topic...

My intent was never to 'drive a wedge', 'be the word police', or 'be divisive'.

I wanted to discuss the harm, stigma and confusion that can be caused by the words we choose. ESPECIALLY with people who support choice and may not realize the potential harm or that the party has updated the language. The words in question of this thread are "safe, legal and rare" - specifically taking note of the word rare. In context of abortion (not unwanted pregnancies, abortion). The national party removed it because of the fact it's open to interpretation... and all of the reasons outlined in the OP.

*I* get that you and other liberals are very very likely to fully support choice. *I* get what you *MEAN* by rare. We *all* want to make unwanted pregnancies rare... but do you not see, even a little, how using the "rare" language can be harmful? There have been massive attacks in every state on abortion since 1989. And they are getting worse. And, as such, I feel it's incredibly important to discuss how our language forms our societal beliefs and vice versa. To quote LeftyMom from another thread...

19. That's the political genius and moral cowardice of the phrase.
To pro-choice people it means "unplanned pregnancies shouldn't be common, for women's sake." To the mushy middle it means "abortions for deserving women but not for those trampy other women." To anti-choicers it means "let's whittle away at legalized abortion even if we can't get a ban past the Supremes yet."

It's a political Rorschach ink blot. It means what you want it to mean.

I have had at least 2 conversations here with people who literally said, "oh, hey. wow - I really hadn't thought about it like that, I will change my language". Others have been nasty, combative, dismissive and rude. And there's been a lot in between.

Bottom line - it's a discussion. This is a discussion board. It's an important topic to me and I thought to many other DUers. Again- the word that causes confusion, anger, harm, etc was REMOVED from the party platform for these reasons. It's just weird that so many DUers are fighting it.

Here is this is the Democratic Party altered platform (with "safe, legal, rare" removed):

Protecting A Woman's Right to Choose. The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman's decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.

See? It's possible to support all of the things we discussed and leave the frequency out of the policy discussion to avoid the confusion and/or potential harm.

Ideally, abortion rates drop as a byproduct of the rest but we keep the focus on what it should be. We typically don't fight to expand access to something we want to be rare.

It's not that controversial.

Carry on.

A linguistic trick of affirming the right to abortion while simultaneously devaluing it.

Safe, legal, rare.

Saying it should be "rare" indicates - clearly - that it is happening more than it should be and that there are 'good' and 'bad' abortions. Abortion is one of the most stigmatized events of a woman's life and the widespread "rare" mantra propagates that.

Calling for it to be "rare" proposes that there is something wrong with abortion. It places the procedure as a very different type of health care. One in which the goal is reduced use rather than expanded access and enhanced quality. And this has contributed to the significant decline in the number of locations where abortions are performed in the United States. The result is also fewer physicians - good physicians - who are even taught abortion care. Less than half of all OB/GYN's residency programs offer training in abortion care.

Saying it should be rare legitimizes efforts to restrict access to abortion.

Prior to 1989, laws interfering with a woman’s right to abortion were ruled unconstitutional. The shift in the composition of the Court under the Reagan and Bush I administrations led to the 1989 and 1992 Webster and Casey Supreme Court decisions establishing a threshold of “undue burden” for the constitutionality of state-based restrictions. Under this new legal regime, states can demonstrate a preference against abortion through the implementation of waiting periods, parental
involvement, mandatory information, and scripted provider speech requirements; since 1994, almost every state has done so. These laws vary in their construction and studying the effects of these laws is difficult but suggests that additional barriers to abortion disproportionately affect traditionally vulnerable populations.24 For example, the most severe waiting periods require two in-person visits to the clinic with a prescribed time between visits. In a world where many women lack paid sick leave and childcare, access to a provider in their community, and affordable transportation/lodging, a two-visit requirement may be insurmountable to some women.

Using this phrase is a linguistic trick of affirming the right to abortion while simultaneously devaluing it is both harmful and ineffective as a strategy to securing rights. The desire to help an individual woman achieve her reproductive desires by avoiding an abortion is a laudable goal, not because it reduces the need for abortion, but because it is what that woman wants for her life.

Credit for several portions of this to:

J Womens Hist. 2010;22(3):161-72.
Rethinking the mantra that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare".
Weitz TA.

Worth every penny to buy the whole article, btw.
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