I gave up using “pro-life” and “pro-choice” in prose and aloud. Besides the clumsiness of the prefix, I refused to let my opponents define the terms of the debate. Instead, I use abortion supporters or abortion opponents, or, for the latter, assholes.
In “Arrest Me, You Alabama Cowards,” Emily Atkin suggests why conservatives use chickenshit terms to describe procedures conceived by their grisly little minds:
Too many Americans still think of abortion as a medieval procedure in which a white-coated doctor stands at the edge of an exam table, armed with clamps, ready to pry a nearly fully formed baby from a woman’s womb. This is not reality. About a quarter of abortions in the United States are so-called medication abortions, in which the woman takes one or more pills to induce an abortion, usually prior to nine weeks of gestation and in the comfort of their home. And most surgical abortions, which require a doctor and occur in a clinic or other medical setting, are not being done to viable fetuses. More than 90 percent of abortions in the United States are performed at or before 13 weeks of gestation. (The earliest a fetus can survive is after 20 weeks, and the odds are extremely low until 25 weeks.)
But even if all abortions were surgical abortions performed by doctors, Alabama’s choice to punish the doctor and not the patient would still be cowardly. They’re not just trying to mask the horror of punishing women by punishing their doctors instead; they’re trying to guilt women into submission. We are taught, from a young age, to suppress our own needs if they might burden other people. So whereas we might be willing to get an illegal abortion at the risk of going to jail ourselves, we’d be less willing to do so if it put our doctor at risk.