Sunday, April 10, 2005

Pro-Choice Men

Pro-choice men can be creepy. Some of the men who are most vocal about being pro-choice are really just anti-responsibility. They don't want to bother with a condom yet don't want to be called "Dad," either. Or they want to control women's fertility, just like priests and other anti-abortion activist men, but from a different angle.

The best thing for a man to say when questioned about his stance on the abortion issue is:
If I'm ever in that situation, I hope that my wife or girlfriend will talk about it with me. Ultimately, though, it's her decision.

See, I don't care so much about what a man's opinion about abortion is, because I don't think it's an issue that men should be legally involved in at all. Sure it would be nice if all pregnant women talked with their sex partners before aborting or deciding to carry a pregnancy to term. But in the end, that's a courtesy. No matter how much the man does or does not want to have the baby, he's not the one who's pregnant.

  • Her pregnancy does not cause his risk of death to increase significantly.
  • Her pregnancy does not cause him to become incontinent or develop hemorrhoids.
  • Her pregnancy does not change the way he's treated by nearly everyone he encounters.
  • Her pregnancy does not require a hospital stay for him.
  • Her pregnancy does not cause his body to undergo serious and often unpleasant changes that may be irreversible.

Women get pregnant. Women give birth. This is not an egalitarian process.

10 comments: said...

When I look at the issue intellectually, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that it is none of my business what others decide to do in terms of their bodies. This is my official statement. However, if I put myself in a hypothetical situation, I can't help but feel some instinctual feeling of, I'm not sure what to call it but I can't deny that there is some attachment or some desire to be a part of the decision. I think it is akin to the desire to continue your genetic line by having children but I'm not sure. I’m not sure if this makes any sense at all (and you’ve already said that you don’t care what I as a man think about abortion anyway) but I thought I would chime in. In the end, all I could ever ask for is to be part of the decision.

Sarahlynn said...

I understand that. And of course I'd never make any decision of this magnitude without collaborating with Paul. When we learned about Ellie, we went away for a long weekend together and talked and talked and talked, before we even shared the news with our family and closest friends.

But legally, I don't think that men should be involved.

Like I said, I like to think that all couples would discuss this stuff. But in the end . . . she's the one who's actually pregnant. And the decision (either way) can be a relationship deal-breaker if the couple aren't on the same page or aren't good at communicating with each other.

Redhead Editor said...

Your thoughts on this topic are always so right on. I so highly value women and our abilities to make the right decision. And I agree with the response that men, pro-choice men, should give. I have a purple NEVER SURRENDER bracelet from NARAL if you want. I wear mine proudly.

parodie said...

I whole-heartedly agree. When I was considering having sex with my (then) bf, I did as I had heard suggested, and asked him what he would expect/feel/etc if I were to accidentally get pregnant (since we were both in university at the time). His reaction was "Well, obviously you'd have an abortion, right?"
I felt ... weird. I am strongly pro-choice but unconvinced that would be a choice I could live with, so having an abortion was not my no-brainer solution.

It was interesting how revealing that exchange was. And how weird it felt to have him assume that's what I'd do. Verily, men should be supportive but not pushy. Sheesh.

mypetrock said...

I find myself disagreeing with you on this one, but I have difficulty in identifying why. I've always wanted children. Ever since the time I left school I've been willing, if it should come to it, to adopt any child that I had any responsibility in conceiving should the relationship with the mother not work out. It is very much the idea that it's my genetic material too. And having gone through infertility I'm very much invested in not missing an opportunity to have children because pregnancy isn't guaranteed to happen all the time. That said I'm not sure that there is anything that a father can do to prevent a mother from choosing to abort or from carrying the baby in a substantially sub-optimal manner, but I don't want to be legally barred from the decision.

Sarahlynn said...

Thanks, Ellen. Parodie, so true.

Mypetrock, not everyone is in your exact situation and if you make a legal precedent for your own rights, you're making the same precedent for all men.

I know you've always wanted to be a parent. I understand that because I feel the same way. But the fact is that you'll never be pregnant. You'll never have the substantially increased risks that go along with pregnancy and childbirth. You can't force that on any woman against her will. Yes, it's your "genetic material" too. But there's a big step between sperm and child.

Taking this argument to the next step:
- Men could force or coerce women into having sex whenever they wanted children. Of course there'd have to be a rape exemption to the law to keep this from happening. So now before a woman can have an abortion - a very time sensitive issue - she has to get a permission note from her boyfriend or file a (potentially false) report of rate against her boyfriend.

It's simple: my body, my choice. No one can or should be able to force me into have a baby or an abortion against my wishes. It sucks for the man who wants to be a father, but he has a choice too:

Your legal recourse? Only sleep with women who understand how you feel and are willing to go along with what you want.

FeelinFroggy said...

Not to be a comedian on such a heavy issue but I think I could disagree on,

"Her pregnancy does not cause his risk of death to increase significantly."

I have seen some men nearly loose their lives due to the wrath of a pregnant women. Of course I guess it really would be,

"His stupid comments during her pregancy could increase his risk of death significantly."

I agree with your post. Prochoice men can be creepy.

briannahector said...

I highly disagree with your post. My boyfriend is Pro Choice but is very responsible. I had a "false pregnancy" and he stuck by my side. he didn't force me to get an abortion nor did her force me to stay pregnant. he said it was my choice. I know a lot of pro choice men who are very responsible and they are pro choice because they respect women.

J. Glass said...

The only part of your post I take issue with is the assertion that vocal pro-choice men are anti-responsibility. When you say a man's best response should be: "If I'm ever in that situation, I hope that my wife or girlfriend will talk about it with me. Ultimately, though, it's her decision", I agree with you. That is my own conviction, and that is exactly how I would act should I be in that situation. However, one of the chief reasons I am so vocal about it is because it's a personal liberty issue. If any member of society is oppressed from the sole fact of their existence, or of their biological capacity, that's a black mark on everything we should be standing for.

Sarahlynn said...

Brianna, where do we disagree? I too know a lot of men who respect a woman's right to choose. I'm specifically discussing men who call themselves "pro-choice" meaning that they think abortion should be legal, but also that they should have a legal say in whether or not a woman should have one.

J. Glass, I agree. Not all men who vocally support a woman's right to choose abortion are anti-responsibility. But some men who call themselves "pro-choice" think the choice should ultimately reside with them (rather than with the pregnant woman). If you read discussions on some Men's Rights websites about this topic, it's horrifying.

Perhaps I should have put the words "can be" and "some" in bold for this post.