A recent Care2Care article asks, “Should Men Get More Say in Keeping an Unwanted Pregnancy?”
More and more, activists are popping up, concerned about the plight of the “post-abortive male” or questioning why both partners shouldn’t have to approve an abortion. As a recent op-ed in Maine illustrates, more anti-abortion activists are seeing men as the key to blocking a woman’s right to decide if she wants to carry a pregnancy to term or not.
As a pro-choice person who’s very happy to have never been pregnant and forced to have the inevitable “this is what I’m thinking” conversation, I have to admit the rights of the sperm contributor are a tricky subject.
Who is the “post-abortive male,” and who is the daddy on the “Daddy’s little man” billboards anti-choice groups are using to appeal to men’s paternal nature? Should they be allowed to legally block a woman’s abortion?
What if the sperm contributor is a rapist?
What if he’s the pregnant girl’s/woman’s father or uncle?
Should he have a 50/50 say?
In the bill Ohio tried to pass, a woman would not be required to have the consent of the father under the following conditions:
(a) A copy of a police report or a complaint, indictment, information, or other court document that gives the person who is to perform or induce the abortion reasonable cause to believe that the woman became pregnant as the result of rape or incest.
(b) A copy of a paternity test that gives the person who is to perform or induce the abortion reasonable cause to believe that the woman became pregnant as the result of incest.
(2) This section does not apply if the abortion is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, to preserve the life or the physical health of the pregnant woman.
(3) Divisions (B)(1) and (2) of this section do not apply if the father of the fetus is deceased at the time of the abortion.
That’s, at least, of some comfort.
But what about the situations in which the sperm contributor is the husband, the fiance, the one-night-stand? What rights should he have? What if he’s staunchly pro-life/anti-choice, if he, in his heart of hearts, believes abortion is “murder” and would spend the rest of his life in a haze of regret and sadness over the loss of his “unborn child”?
While I will never be in support of overturning Roe v. Wade, and while I will always argue that whether to abort is, and should, ultimately be the woman’s decision to make, I do also have a good amount of empathy for the men who don’t want the abortion to occur. However, by no means do I think they should have a legal right to prevent an abortion any more than I think women should have a legal right to prevent a male spouse from having a vasectomy.
If men have the legal right to prevent an abortion, would it follow that they have the legal right to force one? Or are “father’s rights” only “father’s rights” when they align with the anti-choice agenda?
It’s obvious men are at a disadvantage when it comes to this particular reproductive right, and I don’t know what can be said to help them understand and eventually come to terms with their admittedly powerless position.
How about this:
The woman who chooses to have an abortion is the woman who would be solely responsible for carrying the fetus, taking the health risks, bearing the discomfort of pregnancy, and giving birth. It may technically be “your” fetus to some degree, but percentage-wise, the only time it’s half yours is at the point of sperm-and-egg impact. After that, the percentage rises drastically in her favor to a safe 95% until it’s born.
If it were possible for you to be the carrier, the decision would be yours to make, and we would be forced to accept whatever it was.
But as long as we’re the carriers, the decision is ours.