In my latest reading of Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood, Kristin Luker discussed the difference of worldview between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. She doesn't mean that all pro-lifers or all pro-choicers adopt the worldview that she ascribes to them, but rather she notes trends that she observed in her interviews with activists. So please keep in mind that what follows is not absolute, but it may describe general trends, at least during the 1980's, when Luker wrote this book.
to Luker, pro-lifers believe in moral rules, even though they don't
perfectly live up to them, since there are pro-life women who have had
abortions. Pro-choicers, by contrast, don't have as rigid a view
regarding morality, and they make moral decisions by looking at
competing claims and what's good for people involved. Luker states that
pro-choicers have a New Testament approach to ethics, one that
subordinates rules to love. For example, pro-choicers don't think that
putting a child up for adoption is preferable to abortion, for the
former would put the child into a world where he or she might not be
loved or receive adequate care.
On a related note, pro-choicers
regard personhood as social, and so they maintain that one becomes a
person at birth, when one first socially interacts with people.
Pro-lifers, by contrast, are frightened by this suggestion, for they
regard personhood as innate rather than socially-conditioned, and they
fear that valuing people based upon their contribution to society is
similar to Nazism.
At the same time, according to Luker, pro-choicers are not for women carelessly getting pregnant and having multiple abortions.
Luker states that they dislike this because the women had other
alternatives----such as birth control----and multiple abortions usurp
"the potential rights of the embryo by trivializing them" (page 180). I
can't say that I entirely understand the pro-choice position here, for,
if abortion is acceptable, what would be wrong with having more than
one abortion? Something tells me that even pro-choicers are seeing the
embryo as something other than a blob of tissue. But this position
calls to my mind a conversation that I was having with pro-choicers back
in my conservative college days. A pro-choicer said that she was
against abortion personally but did not think that the law should ban
abortion, and so I asked her why she was against abortion personally.
Her response was that abortion was too easy of a solution----that sex
and pregnancy should be considered as more weighty than an attitude of
"Oh, I'm pregnant again----time to have another abortion!" would
Pro-lifers regard sex as sacred because it produces
children, whereas pro-choicers regard sex as sacred in terms of
intimacy. Pro-choicers also think that sex should not only be for
procreative purposes, as Luker says on pages 176-177: "From
their point of view, if the purpose of sex were limited to reproduction,
no rational Creator would have arranged things so that an individual
can have hundreds or even thousands of acts of intercourse in a
lifetime, with millions of sex cells----egg and sperm----always at the
ready." Regarding the sanctity of sex, this, too, reminds me
of a discussion that I had with a pro-choicer in my college days. I was
saying that people should wait until they are married to have sex
because anything else would cheapen sex and its sanctity, and one lady
wondered what exactly was so sacred about sex: she saw it primarily as a
physical act! She converted to Islam sometime after that discussion,
so I'm curious as to whether her view is different, now.
think that God has a plan, and so they believe that an unexpected
pregnancy is part of that plan. Pro-choicers, by contrast, are less
religious (or are spiritual but not religious), and they don't believe
that any ills of society are God's will, which is why they believe that
it's important for human beings to stop them. This, presumably, would
include preventing a child from growing up unwanted. This debate
recalled to my mind Richard Mourdock's comments during the 2012 elections.
whether or not Luker's characterizations gel with my experience, I'd
say not entirely. On the issue of abortion, yes, pro-lifers probably
have a rigid sense of rules whereas pro-choicers are more open to
situational ethics, but what about other issues? On a number of
issues, it seems as if the Left is absolutist whereas the Right
conditions ethics on the situation. I think of the use of torture in
interrogation techniques, or funding violent groups to fight Communism,
ideas that the Right has championed. And, regarding sex, I think that conservatives, too, value sex as a means of intimacy.