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On the Language of Choice

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Tarek Rizk is the communications director at NARAL Pro-Choice America

My first week or so here as communications director at NARAL Pro-Choice America has been amazing. I've been working with a great group of folks on the exciting Choice Out Loud campaign, we launched the Who Decides? report on the state of choice in America, and we announced Ilyse Hogue as the next president of the organization. All that as we mark 40 years since the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman's right to choose.

In my position I'm honored to help NARAL Pro-Choice America think about the language we use to tell our story and engage our base of activists while reaching out to new people. This week, we're talking a lot about the word "choice" and how it helps us connect with different folks.

We believe the language of "choice" is a powerful tool to help people understand what is at risk and what we're fighting so hard to protect. I see the conversation about choice expanding as our community grows and changes. "Choice" isn't solely a political expression. "Choice" also points to the very personal and sometimes difficult decisions made by women who deserve privacy and respect.

As opponents of women exercising their reproductive rights have broadened their attack, I think it's important that NARAL Pro-Choice America also see "choice" in much broader terms. Choice means having access to birth control and choosing when to make the personal and financial commitment to bring a child into the world. It means taking steps to ensure you can provide for and protect that child to the best of your ability. It means you, and not the government, decide whether you become a parent.

Finally, it's worth noting that "pro-choice" is a term we use to describe ourselves and our work. We don't ask our friends and activists to wear a label. As a new generation of young people who support a woman's right to control her body and her life joins our ranks, the labels we use matter less. As we saw at the ballot box in 2012, attacks on this fundamental right drew a strong response from voters of all ages. Yesterday the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released data showing that 63 percent of respondents oppose overturning Roe v. Wade. This strong support for what we call pro-choice values has held at this level for decades.

So, in the 40 years since an energized group of passionate women and men marched and rallied and fought for the right to choose, the language has changed and will continue to change. But the values that support this intensely personal and important right have never wavered. And neither will we.

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