Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

Pro-choice means never having to say you’re sorry

I’m in favor of abortion or, in the rather impoverished language of contemporary debate, I’m pro-choice. That would include the choice of art students to artificially inseminate themselves and then induce miscarriages as part of their work. But a lot of the response on the internet to Aliza Shvartzs’s artwork has been of the “I’m as pro-choice as anyone, as long as women don’t make choices I disagree with” variety. I think it’s a real weakness of the pro-choice position that abortion is so often spoken of in hushed terms, treated as unpleasant, tragic, something awful that must, perhaps, be allowed in some circumstances when entered into with the proper degree of gravity. But this isn’t really a pro-choice position at all; treating abortion as somehow an especially grave matter buys completely into the pro-life position that there’s something wrong about abortion (indeed, the idea that you can have an abortion, but only if you treat it with the requisite degree of moral seriousness, is not conceptually different from the idea that you can have an abortion, but only if you are the victim of rape: it depends on a misogynist distinction between “responsible” and “irresponsible” women). For more on this see an old LBO post by shag, and this excellent post on the current controversy.

Of course, this particular piece of art didn’t actually involve any abortions; but it did a great job of highlighting fault-lines among those who consider themselves pro-choice.