Why Men Need To Be Involved In The Discussion Of Abortion

abortion menThis Saturday, during the MSNBC show Up with Chris Hayes, I heard a common refrain from liberal men in the abortion debate. The hilarious and insightful W. Kamau Bell pleaded for men to just shut their mouths. Basically, just stop talking about women and their pregnancies and what they should do with them.

Bell is obviously not the first guy to stand up and say, “Hey fellas, let’s all just be quiet.” It seems like men normally fall into two groups, those that want to strip women’s reproductive rights and those that want to stop talking about it.

Even President Obama makes it a point to paint abortion as a women’s issue that men don’t have the right to talk about. When responding to Todd Akin’s deplorable comments about “legitimate rape,” the President had this to say,

“So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”

We shouldn’t let men make decisions for women. Men shouldn’t talk about women’s decisions. Men’s have no right talking about abortion.

I realize why liberal men use this line. It shows that they understand and respect that reproductive health choices need to be made by the individual. And when it comes to pregnancy, the individual making that call is going to be a woman. Liberal men say this not really to avoid the conversation, but because the talk doesn’t feel like one they have a right to participate in. They feel like it’s not their place to join a discussion about something that should be personally decided by each woman.

I honestly understand where all of this, “Men should just shut up,” talk is coming from. I appreciate that there are men who say, “This shouldn’t be my business.” But I would argue that liberal men need to stand up and start participating in the discussion. Men who believe that their wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers should have the right to make their own reproductive choices can’t be afraid of speaking up and getting involved.

The fact is that when men say, “We shouldn’t get involved,” they make this a male vs. female issue. The problem is that abortion isn’t argued along gender lines. There are plenty of women out there who are anti-abortion. And when men for choice are silent, we miss that perspective from the debate. Think of how powerful it would be not just to hear from the woman who made the decision to get an abortion because she had four children already and knew that she could support and care for the fifth, but to hear from the husband who agreed with her. Let’s hear from the guys who drove their young girlfriends to the appointment, because they both knew and agreed that they weren’t prepared to become parents. That’s hear from the fathers who support their daughters’ and respect them enough to trust their decisions.

Those are strong voices that we miss out on every time men stand back and say, “The guys have no right to talk about this.”

(Photo: Femblr)

Ever since the wonderful Koa Beck and I talked about male birth control and the possibility to it will turn contraception into “more than just a women’s issue,” I’ve been thinking about the ways that reproductive health is ghettoized as a purely female problems. It’s happened with abortion more than any other issue in American politics. But the truth of the matter is that with every pregnancy, there are two people involved in creating that fetus. Men, whether they carry a child or not, are intrinsically involved in the process of bringing a baby into this world. Maybe it’s time that we acknowledge their place in the conversation about what to do next.

I realize why women are hesitant to make abortion more than just a female issue. We don’t trust men to give us the rights and respect we deserve. We don’t want them inflicting their opinions on the uteri that will actually have to carry those babies. But if we’re asking men to trust us making our own health decisions, shouldn’t we be willing to reciprocate? Shouldn’t we be willing to bring men into the discussion and talk with them about why and how these rights affect us all?

Today’s modern culture expects men to be more involved in fatherhood than ever. We want guys who will change diapers, cook dinners, read bedtime stories and generally be more active and engaged parents. And yet, we still want to cut them out of the discussion when it comes to family planning, contraception, pregnancy and the choice to end a pregnancy. Every time we excise men from the conversation, every time we make something a “women’s issue,” we ignore important perspectives and we weaken our own argument.

Right now, we all need to be talking about reproductive rights. We need both genders on both sides to be involved in the conversation, because I guarantee you that men looking to prohibit a woman’s right to choose will not be swayed with the argument that, “Men have no place in this conversation.” Let’s admit that women’s issues, including the right to an abortion, impact all of us and it’s a discussion that we all need to be engaged in.

There are plenty of anti-abortion women out there who would have no problem restricting or completely denying abortions to their fellow females. “The men should just shut up,” is the not the solution to this problem.

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