Why We Don't Debate Anti-Choice Spokespersons

The Pro-Choice Action Network sometimes gets requests from anti-choice groups or from the media to have a debate with anti-choice spokespersons. Along with most other pro-choice groups, we do not engage in debates with the anti-choice -- by which we mean public debates before an audience, or on radio or TV. Here's why:

  1. The right to abortion is not debatable, because access to legal, safe abortion is a fundamental human right, one that is protected by law and supported by the majority of citizens. The provision of basic human rights is not open to debate.
  2. Likewise, the right to choose abortion should not be subject to a vote, because access to safe abortion is a fundamental health issue for women. Abortion cannot be legally restricted without substantial harm to women.
  3. Debating the anti-choice would be an abdication of our responsibility to help women and support abortion providers because the anti-choice position is harmful to women and to providers. Debating the anti-choice would lend legitimacy to this harmful position.
  4. Debates imply that the participants could be led to a compromise. We will never compromise a woman's right to choose. And we suspect the anti-choice will never compromise their stance against legal abortion. This leaves little justification for a debate.
  5. Debates imply opposing sides, but anti-choice and pro-choice are not the opposite of each other. The opposite of forced pregnancy is forced abortion. We oppose both.
  6. Debates are public relations events, usually staged by the anti-choice. Such debates are not designed to change peoples' minds or provide useful information. Truth often becomes a casualty in such debates, because the "winner" is the side with the slickest presentation and fanciest rhetoric.