Does National Review Know What ‘Pro-Choice’ Means?

On Thursday, National Review published two stories about abortion — one alleging an underground phenomenon of women being emotionally and financially coerced into having abortions, and the other calling on people who identify as pro-choice to disavow this culture.

There’s a lot of bizarre material to contextualize here. It may be that the erasure of the other side of reproductive coercion is a real issue, but it’s also the case that the people who vehemently oppose affordable abortion and family planning resources are the same people who advocate for classist, racist family cap policies that restrict how many children low-income families can have. It’s also more than a little hypocritical to lament women facing financial pressures to have abortions, while simultaneously affordable maternal care, housing, health care, education, and all the wildly expensive amenities required to raise children.

But the latter article, just in its headline, was undoubtedly based on misunderstanding about what it means to be pro-choice. Just to clarify, to be pro-choice means to support women having all the resources and support to make choices about their bodies, regardless of whether that choice is to go through with a pregnancy and give birth or not to.

None of this is to say that reproductive coercion that pushes women to have abortions doesn’t exist — in the United States it probably does, and around the world, it certainly does. But in either case, it’s difficult to imagine that National Review cares very much about the well-being of the women it’s writing about, as it fails to call for the aforementioned policies and economic resources that would empower women to be able to make the choice to have children.

Whether or not a woman wants a child, pregnancy in today’s America — one where women face endless discrimination and loss of opportunity for having children or merely for being able to have children — is, unfortunately, a substantial burden, and one that conservative economic policies do nothing to alleviate.

At the end of the day, the coverage of this phenomenon of reproductive coercion is transparently about demonizing abortion, and further pushing the narrative that the pro-choice movement is pushing abortion, when what it’s actually pushing is having the right to make the decision to have or not have abortion. Two very different things. The goal of pushing this narrative is obviously to distract from the fact that abortion rights opponents want the state to be able to force women with unwanted pregnancies to give birth.

But in either case, seriously, props to National Review. At a time when abortion restrictions have caused the United States to have the highest maternal mortality rates in the industrialized world and are quite literally causing women to die or injure themselves, and when harassment and violence toward providers and women seeking abortions only continues to rise, they’ve managed to find a way to make pro-choice people seem like the villains.

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This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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