Abortions Have Made Life Better for Millions Of Men: It's About Time to Speak Up in Support
Pro-choice activists have been saying for at least three decades that the landscape of the abortion debate won't permanently change until women are brave enough to do what gays did 30 years ago -- emerge from the shadows, speak our truth and demand respect for our decisions.
One in three women in America will have an abortion at some point in her life. There are roughly twice as many abortions as LASIK procedures performed in any given year. Given that overwhelming prevalence, it's high time for women who have had abortions to come out, step up, stand by their choices -- and refuse delivery on all attempts to burden them with regret or shame.
The GOP's legislative "war on women" and Darcy Burner's controversial "take a stand" moment at Netroots Nation have brought renewed vigor to solving the invisibility problem, sparking new campaigns to encourage women to reject right-wing attempts to shame and silence them. It's important work, with huge potential to change the way we talk about abortion for decades to come.
But through all of this fresh energy and determination, there's one set of big, deep voices that's conspicuously missing.
We need to hear from the men, too.
For every single woman who's ever had an abortion, there's a man somewhere in the story. For every woman who was able to delay motherhood until a better moment, or improve her existing kids' chances by not enlarging her brood, or end a pregnancy that was doomed to end in tragedy and pain, there's also a man out there who is not a father today -- or is a better father to the kids he has -- because a woman he was involved with had the means to make this decision.
Forty years of feminism notwithstanding, the reality in American politics and culture is that our national discussion around this issue won't materially change until men understand just how invested they are in this issue -- and then stand up with us to insist that our reproductive rights be protected and preserved.
It's not that there aren't plenty of male voices in this debate already. They're booming in loud and strong from the anti-choice side. We're getting an earful from the Catholic bishops (whose moral authority on any matter relating to sexuality should rightly be a national joke by now), Mormon elders, evangelical preachers, and pontificating legislators. Out front of the clinics, the furious guy who is raging because "the bitch killed my baby, and I didn't have a say in it" is a stereotype on picket lines from coast to coast. Men who think they have the right to control women's fertility are outraged when they find out that they have no rights at all -- and over the years, their anger has been a potent accelerant to the flames of anti-choice furor.
We've heard more than enough from them.
But even as we're getting an aggrieved earful from the full chorus of patriarchal bullies, our own pro-choice men have receded into the background of the conversation, to the point where they have no voice at all. Worse: these sweet guys think that by holding their tongues, they're doing us a favor. After all, they understand that getting pregnant is a lot like that old joke about your ham-and-eggs breakfast: the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed. At the end of the day, the decision to carry on or terminate a pregnancy must, by moral right, remain in women's hands -- because while men are involved, women are committed, body and soul.