It’s a favorite liberal tactic: If you’re losing an argument, just change the terms of the debate, and let your media water-carriers adopt the new language. So, days before the fortieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Planned Parenthood unleashed a new video campaign that not only attacks pro-life language, but also pro-choice terminology.
Planned Parenthood’s latest campaign, Not in Her Shoes, aims to remove Americans’ identity as “pro-life” or “pro-choice” in favor of emphasizing women’s personal choice depending on the situation. Not in Her Shoes introduces its mission by stating, “Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman to make … Nobody knows a woman’s specific situation — we’re not in her shoes.”
According to Planned Parenthood, the “black and white labels” of “pro-life” or “pro-choice” hinder conversation at a time when, “a growing number of Americans who might otherwise identify themselves as ‘pro-life’ are in fact in favor of keeping abortion safe and legal.”
A calm woman’s voice in Planned Parenthood’s video affirms, “The truth is these labels limit the conversation and simply don’t reflect how people actually feel about abortion,” since, it says, the majority of Americans support safe and legal abortions. The cartoon-animated video discourages political intervention, while promoting “mutual respect” and “empathy” when discussing abortion – or, in other words, “don’t let the labels box you in.”
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards decided to erase the pro-life and pro-choice “labels” last year after a Gallup Poll illustrated that 41 percent of Americans declared themselves pro-choice compared with 50 percent of self-proclaimed pro-life Americans. Gallup Poll data from 2012 also revealed that 59 percent of Americans support banning abortion in most or all circumstances.
One young woman, Erin Carhart, featured on the Planned Parenthood website, summarizes the Not in Her Shoes campaign in her own words: “Abortion is a private health matter, plain and simple. If you think about it, abortion is about choice and life, so really the labels we've previously placed on this term don't even make sense.” Presumably, the “and” should be stressed in that sentence.
When the discussion comes to shoes, Planned Parenthood has a point: one size does not fit all. But to delegitimize the ground other Americans stand upon by shrugging off their arguments as mere labels is little more than a cheap rhetorical trick.