In the nearly four decades since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade decriminalized abortion in the United States, “right to life” and “right to choose” have become shorthand for the opposing sides of the abortion debate. In her new book, Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling, Linda Greenhouse reveals some of the little-known events that preceded the decision, including the discussions that led to those slogans. Here’s an excerpt from Greenhouse’s interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” earlier this week in which she explains how “right to choose” became associated with the decriminalization movement:
Jimmye Kimmey was a young woman who was executive director of an organization called the Association for the Study of Abortion (ASA), which was one of the early reform groups and was migrating in the early 1970s from a position of reforming the existing abortion laws to the outright repeal of existing abortion laws, and she wrote a memorandum framing the issue of how the pro-repeal position should be described: “Right to life is short, catchy, composed of monosyllabic words — an important consideration in English. We need something comparable. Right to choose would seem to do the job. And ... choice has to do with action, and it's action that we're concerned with.”
Choose and choice are also popular words in advertising. Read my post about what choosiness means in the marketplace.