Pro choice

Pro-life, pro-choice. A controversial subject at the best of times, but when Emily’s List was recently reported to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for ‘buying votes’, it opened up a whole new debate. So what is Emily’s List, and why do pro-lifers think that the grants used to help women become elected are buying pro-abortion votes?
Let’s start with what Emily’s List is. It was founded in 1993 by Barbara Follett, the Labour Minister for women’s rights. Emily is an acronym for ‘Early Money Is Like Yeast’ (it helps the dough rise) and it serves to offer grants to women who are seeking selection in the Labour Party. The grants awarded are for £250 per candidate and are offered for assistance in elections for Westminster, the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament and in fact any political election. They are meant to assist with expenses such as travel and child / dependency care during a selection process.
So why are pro-life supporters trying to stop the grants? Well to qualify for the grant, candidates must sign a declaration saying they support the aims of the pro-choice campaign. The pro-life lobby argue that by signing the declaration and accepting the grant, the women are being undemocratic (essentially they are being accused of ‘selling’ their vote), unreasonable and also insinuate that these women are signing their lifetime approval to pro-abortion votes.
Partisan issues aside, these accusations are a fallacy.
Firstly, what Emily’s List does is support women who have the same views and beliefs as the organisation. Nothing unusual there. If a grant is to be given by an organisation, there are usually restrictions placed on it.
Secondly, Emily’s List does not ‘buy votes’. At the time of receiving the grant, the women must sign a declaration identifying themselves as pro-choice – however, there is nothing which ties them into voting that way when actually called upon. Indeed, Claire Curtis-Thomas MP who was voted in with the help of an Emily’s List grant has since changed her opinion and now votes in favour of reducing the abortion limit.
And finally, and let’s make this very clear, Emily’s List is not pro-abortion. Yes, you read that right. I repeat, it is not pro-abortion. It is pro-choice. There is a difference.
Promotion of pro-choice attitudes is one of the organisations aims, but it is not the only aim; and the promotion of pro-abortion attitudes is not an aim at all. Essentially, the organisation seeks to promote and support women’s rights, for example, the right to run for election to be a political representative. As such, it also promotes and supports a woman’s right to choice. This extends to the right to choose as to whether she wants an abortion or not. To have a right to an abortion as an option among many options; it does not represent it as the only option, nor necessarily as the right option. It simply forms part of the right for a woman to choose. This is the pivotal thing the pro-lifers both fail to understand and fail to endorse themselves. Unlike the pro-lifers, Emily’s List does not pick and choose what rights women should and shouldn’t have, it believes in endorsing women’s rights totally. No ifs and no buts.
So next time you read an article condemning Emily’s List, stop and consider: when it comes down to it, the argument is perhaps not simply pro-life or pro-choice, but anti-women’s rights vs pro-women’s rights. Which side of the fence are you on?


3 Responses to Pro choice

  1. Tamsin says:

    I could not agree more!

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