This Maddow segment on repro rights includes an interview with Nancy Northrup of the Center For Reproductive Rights, on the eve of a Mississippi court decision on that state’s abortion TRAP laws. CRR represented the forces of modernity at trial. The interview starts around 13:00 minutes after a “very wordy introduction” and blood-boiling backgrounder by Rachel.
Interesting to hear a discussion on this subject without the word “choice” bouncing around like a ping pong meme.The first use of the word was when Northrup said CRR’s activities were “waking up the pro-choice public.” Interesting construction, pro-choice public. It gives a name to what is usually represented via poll numbers. As a phrase, “pro-choice public” gets less than 95,000 hits. “Pro-choicers” gets 231,000. “Pro-life public” gets 781,000.
I hope Northrup’s correct about them waking up, but I continue having doubts that the word “choice” is sufficient to capture the dangers to which we would have the pro-choice public wake. Come to think of it, how did they fall so deep asleep?
In the interview, Northrup spoke of “rights,” as does the name of the organization she heads, which is arguing in court to protect rights that, at least as of today, are still guaranteed by the constitution. And the idea of protecting constitutionally guaranteed rights carries more weight and wallop than “choice,” which means literally everything and nothing, and invokes no sense of urgency.
It’s past time for the “the limp language of choice” to be transformed and translated into the language of rights, especially when trying to reach a broader “pro-choice public” that doesn’t obsess daily on repro rights. Reproductive rights are fundamental to human rights, and “choice” can no longer even begin to convey the issues behind the euphemism.
“Choice” is a term of marketing. “Choice” reads like a matter of lifestyle, while repro rights are a matter of life and death. “Choice” has passed its rhetorical expiration date.