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Friday, April 23, 2004

Men are shut out of the discussion

Should men have a say when it comes to abortion? Listening to the radio, there were a series of calls about men and abortion. One woman who was an escort to a clinic noted that the protesters at clinics were mostly male, and the male protesters were the ones who were most likely to be loud, insulting and violent. It's obvious to everyone but themselves that they hate women and they hate that women are outside of their control. This push towards complete control confuses the issue of what men's place in the discussion is.
Some people called the show and expressed anxiety about how women can just go and make the decision to have abortions without consulting the men who got them pregnant. That this is even an issue concerns me greatly. Men cannot be given the right to decide what women do with their bodies. Isn't that the whole point of the controversy?
Abortion is about more than not having a baby. It's about not being pregnant, too. Men can have babies in the sense that they can father them, raise them, love them, pay for them, etc. But men can't become pregnant-duh. Until they do, it's just not their decision to make. And of course, that's not going to happen.
Of course, in the context of a relationship, decisions are made together. Couples usually confer on everything, from the color of the couch to the contraception that they are going to use. But there is a vast world of sexual decisions and behaviors that happen outside the realm of happy, monogamous couples. And sometimes those involve terminating a pregnancy. And sometimes bringing the guy into the discussion is a bad idea.
Legal abortion on demand should be an absolute right regardless of what any individual's feelings about what is right for herself might be. Even if it would feel like a betrayal to you if someone in your life got an abortion without telling you, that doesn't mean that it isn't the right decision for another woman living another life.
Laws requiring women to tell father or husband about her abortion highlight exactly what I am saying about this discussion. It has nothing to do with saving babies, but about preserving the patriarchy. Even beyond abortion, the discussion of controlling medical decisions centers only around that which women do to their own wombs. Culture conservatives want laws keeping women from over-the-counter emergency contraception, laws requiring girls to inform their parents if they are on the pill, laws forcing health workers to turn over the names of girls having sex outside of marriage. It's telling that there isn't a push for spousal and parental consent laws for men's choices. No phone calls to parents of teenage boys purchasing condoms, no laws requiring men to inform their wives about vasectomies.

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