At the core of 2nd Wave Feminism was a belief in the capability and right of a woman to make her own choices, whether it be with regards to her career, her relationships, or her body. Concerning her body, this language of choice has always been particularly charged. In today’s culture, the term “Pro-Choice” almost automatically refers to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. This terminology grew out of the original belief that women have a right to determine the number of children that they want to have. As witnessed to by article eight of the National Organization of Women’s 1968 Bill of Rights, the repeal of contraception and abortion laws was a critical step in their larger goal of creating equality and freedom for women.
One group within the anti-abortion movement is actively working to change the rhetoric of choice that promotes abortion as a liberator. Following a traditional “Pro-Life” understanding that believes an innocent life begins at conception and therefore must be defended in all circumstances, they propose that “There is a Better Way” and urge women to “Refuse to Choose.” Unlike most anti-abortion groups, however, that largely approach the issue from the perspective of the fetus, they seek to approach from the perspective of the woman. Rather than a pathway to women’s freedom, they claim that the practice of abortion ultimately hurts women, hindering the progress of women and preventing the real needs of women from being met. For 2nd Wave Feminists these notions could be almost as offensive as the group’s name: Feminists for Life.
The Feminists for Life have created a unique situation, or perhaps challenge for themselves. They know that to sell their opinions on abortion requires a complex rhetoric of language and images, common history, and compassion. This blog seeks to explore the rhetoric with which they promote their message, and particularly how it fits into Kenneth Burke’s comic frame and President Obama’s request that pro-choice and pro-life alike come together to build “common ground.”