[Fwd: Re: Abortion and the Death Penalty (was Re: abortion litmus test)]

Katha Pollitt kpollitt at thenation.com
Mon Jun 1 20:59:27 PDT 1998

Wojtek, I don't want to hog the list either, but I have to ask you to provide some evidence that significant numbers of american working class people are anti-choice, that the anti-choice movement has a lot of followers, that the language of "choice" has alienated large numbers of working class people etc. I think you are factually mistaken on all these counts. As Yoshie showed, with her posting of stats from Catholics for a Free choice, abortion is a very low priority for the vast majority of Catholics, and very few Catholics (10-13 percent) are totally anti-choice. Do we know that that percent is working-class? I don't think so! I'll bet most of them are just old.

Similarly, the evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants who make up the religious right are often discussed as if they are working class, but are they? I don't know. Do you? Promise-Keepers say their members have a median income of $48,000. Not exactly downtrodden.


As for "choice " being a word that turns off working class people, here too I'd like some evidence. Working class people are, after all, Americans: they shop in great big supermarkets that boast of the many varieties of every kind of product; they want to choose their own doctors; to choose their own religion (lots of church-hopping),and their own spouses, their own style of dress, car, TV programming, fast-food burger, pornographic magazines, vacation and home addresses. Working class people are just as individualistic as other Americans: they don't like govt (or their neighbors) telling them what they can and can't do in their private lives.

Other politicized uses of the word "choice" have not harmed those causes: school choice for example (letting parents choose their child's public school instead of having to send the child to the zoned one) is a very popular cause.

so IF "choice" is a bad way to phrase the right to abortion, the answer cannot be a general working-class resistance to the idea of choice,but something more specific: THIS is not a choice they believe women should have.

So after you explain why you believe the anti-choice movement is largely one of working class people, you can explain why working class people in particular believe women should not have this particular choice.

best, katha

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