Planned Parenthood’s no longer “pro-choice”…but should we even care?

I saw a commercial a few months ago that kind of bugged me. It was an ad for Kraft’s “Anything” dressings. In a move to increase sales and generate interest, Kraft re-branded their salad dressings and labeled them “Anything” dressings. The label and packaging is different, but the contents remain the same. Now, I don’t have a problem with Kraft suggesting we use their dressings for more than just salad. I already use Ranch with everything from pizza to waffles fries. What bugged me, rather, was the fact that a marketing campaign was launched to sell the same product, with just a new name and design.

I was reminded of my thoughts towards those successful salad dressing bottles when I read that Planned Parenthood has decided to pull away from identifying itself as “pro-choice.” I wondered why I should care about a label being dropped when I know that what’s inside the package hasn’t changed a bit.

BuzzFeed reports:

Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said the word “choice” itself might be causing problems. “When ‘choice’ got assigned,” she explained, “women didn’t have as many choices” in any area of their lives. Now that women have more rights and freedoms, she said, maybe “‘choice’ as word sounds frivolous.”

Planned Parent’s VP gave her reasons for abandoning the word “choice.” Although I like to take people at their word, I wonder if this decision had more to do with the fact the Gallup polls are reporting record lows for people who identify themselves as “pro-choice.” Is Planned Parenthood just seeking to distance itself from a term it no longer finds useful?

Planned Parenthood claims that this change is connected to polls and online surveys that show voters have conflicted thoughts towards abortion. In a 2012 online survey of voters, 12% said they were both pro-life and pro-choice, while an additional 12% said they wouldn’t use those terms. When questioned on abortion being moral, 40% of the voters said it depends on the situation.  One woman in a PP focus group admitted to being neither pro-choice or pro-life, but rather pro-“whatever the situation is.”

Both anti-abortion activists and abortion supporters can agree that many in the general public have conflicting views on abortion. When it comes to the “pro-choice” term, even liberal abortion rights writers have different opinions on the topic.

RH Reality Check writer Tracey Weitz shared these statements in her article titled “Planned Parenthood Gives Up the “Pro-Choice” Label: What Does It Mean for the Movement?”

This week, Planned Parenthood announced it will let go of the “pro-choice” label, concerned that the pro-life/pro-choice framework for abortion doesn’t resonate with the general public that holds many more conflicting positions on abortion. They instead would like to focus on the real life circumstances of women and the idea that none of us can walk in any woman’s shoes. This decision led to a huge sigh of relief among advocates for reproductive health, rights, and justice across the U.S. While the media and many of the larger more established movement organizations had held onto “pro-choice”, critics of the framework had existed for years and included activists, advocates, and scholars.

Liberal blogger Amanda Marcotte is not applauding Planned Parenthood’s decision. She penned these words for Slate.

I can see why Planned Parenthood might want to shed the term in order to get these conflicted people to realize they are on Planned Parenthood’s side. But I’m afraid that the desire to go label-free is doomed to fail. I’m not going to start writing pieces where I describe pro-choice organizations as pro-whatever-the-situation-is organizations or help-people-understand-the-circumstances organizations. Labels are simply part of language, and shorthand rhetoric is part of the political debate. As long as abortion is a contested issue, there’s no opting out of that. The only real choice you have is to label yourself or let others do it for you, and of those two options, smart folks will pick the former every time. Pro-choice has its drawbacks, but at least it’s accurate.

I agree with Amanda on one thing. If you don’t label yourself, others will do it for you. Truth is, even if you do label yourself, others will still share their own opinions. In my years of doing pro-life work, I’ve been labeled everything from a nutjob to a racist against my own race. I’ve also been called a gift from God and a lifesaver. It all depends on who you ask.

Planned Parenthood has continually changed its image throughout the years. What began as Margaret Sanger’s racially motivated, eugenicist-led “American Birth Control League” has now become a pink-covered, billion-dollar-funded, celebrity-endorsed international baby-killing machine. Planned Parenthood distances itself from the words of Sanger, who once called minorities “human weeds that should be exterminated” and now proclaims sweet words of “Care, no matter what.” Yet all one has to do is peel back the labels to see that the content has never changed. Even a look at the surveys used to gather data for the change of terms displays these words: “Online survey of 1000 recent voters, African-American and Hispanic Oversamples, Dec 2012.”

As pro-life writer Jill Stanek reports:

But note who is PP targeting in particular. Minorities. Read the fine print in both these graphs – “African American and Hispanic oversamples[.]”

Planned Parenthood continues to paint itself as the savior for poor helpless minorities. Its cause is sadly vocally championed by President Obama. This is nothing more than an updated version of the Negro Project. Margaret Sanger would be proud.

Planned Parenthood can throw out “pro-choice” and rally around “reproductive justice” or claim they really “care.” Call it what you may, but the content stays the same. I’m not buying it.

If pro-lifers care about the recent name-drop, it should be for just one reason. The truth about abortion is being revealed, and the nation is becoming increasingly pro-life. Planned Parenthood is scrambling to push out videos and marketing ideas to gain allies. This proves that our work is making a difference. Truth is prevailing over crafted lies.

  • Pro-infertility is more accurate, that is what they do. when they label it choice they have to first deliberately over-look the fact that 99.99% of women already had the opportunity to make a choice.

  • Maybe they should just go with anit-life.

  • Carol lewis

    Anti life does sound more appropriate for planned parenthood the killing machine. That’s what they do and stand for. Sounds alot like agenda 21!

  • Q: What’s the opposite of “pro-life”? A: Pro-death. That’s the word that Planned Parenthood should really be using because that’s what they are.

    • Cathy

      i disagree with what Plan Par removing the term “pro-choice.” Pro-choice is exactly what it is – the choice to save a woman’s life if it would prove fatal.

      Women used to die often in childbirth, and it is still dangerous in some situations today.

      There are C sections to take out some of the risks, but if the mother is sick, too weak for it,ect, the mother should be saved so she can live another day and bring more lives into the world when she is stronger.

      I had this viewpoint before the tragic incident with the Indian dentist in Ireland – her body was too weak to care for the ovum inside her, she would get septicmia and kidney failure, but Ireland has a vague law to sue doctors even if it is to save the life of the mother,although laws claim they can. This is one rason there should be no restrictions – doctors, even if there is a law claiming they can do it to save the mother,won’t do it because they don’t want to be sued. When that woman walked in there they had the duty to care and protect that person – so they can live a long life and bring more lives into the world. It is the choice to save the women when it is undoable.

      It’s also the Choice to move away from harmful stereotypes – that if women even /Had/ a Choice to live- they are essentially ‘evil’ and would start aborting children for the’fun’ of it in a slippery slope, making children cease to exist like a science fictional other-worldly epidemic – a viewpoint which has cancerously/bizzarly (I’m not even joking) lingered for centuries/millenia in extremly unequal socities. In reality – it is a surgery – and not an easy experience. It is the choice to move away from harmful stereotypes and say women are equal in mind and spirit – that they will act responsably,capably, and intelligently (not ‘evily’) when they have choices they can make for themselves (and not made for them by only men) in their lives – and it is the choice to save the life of the woman who can then live another day and bring more lives and joy into the world. It is not the woman’s fault for the sickness which prevents her body from being able to take care of it – it is the disease, body laceration, ect, which is the problem – and she shouldn’t have to die for it.

      The word “pro-Choice” should remain, because it IS a Choice – to save the life of the woman who can live another day and bring more lives into the world; and IS a Choice for woman to be viewed as responsible human beings who can be given choices and not be supposedly ‘evil’

      • Ingrid Heimark

        It is not controversial to save the mother’s life, it is the 99% of abortions that kills a life for other reasons we oppose. You have simply misunderstood

  • The problem isn’t that different people have different beliefs regarding abortions. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is that one side wants to force their beliefs onto the non-believers and thus regulate their behavior. How about the term free-choice