Monday, January 24, 2011

Abortion is a man's best friend

As the March for Life concludes in D.C., I find a post topic suggested by this comment from reader "Melanie":
Well, I haven't spoken up before about this but both what you said (unintentionally?) AND what Obama said reveal a deep fallacy in the way we think about abortion. Babies are a woman's problem.

It takes two people to make a child, and until in this country, we hold men just as accountable for the children they father, as their " baby killing mothers", abortion will never end. What Obama said essentially " until our daughters are just as able to walk away from their babies as our sons..." really gets at the heart of the problem as I see it and no matter how much blame you want to put upon women for "Getting themselves into this mess in the first place", it still takes two to make a baby, and trust me, God won't forget that.
I realize that there are men who are deeply, significantly hurt by abortion, who mourn the loss of their unborn babies and suffer in ways too numerous to mention here; I wrote about that subject here. But the fact remains that as far as most men are concerned, abortion isn't a bug in the world of consequence-free sex: it's a feature. And an important one.

The laws in our states treat men like sperm donors when it comes to abortion--but like fathers when it comes to child support and responsibility for their offspring. The man has no rights and no responsibilities when it comes to the woman he has impregnated and their child, if--and it's a big if--she chooses to pay someone to kill that child. He's not even legally required to pay for the killing (though some guys will generously offer to finance the executions of their unborn sons and daughters, out of the goodness of their hearts, and their desire not to be saddled with...but I'm getting ahead of myself).

But if she chooses to keep the child--then, suddenly, the man is no longer a sperm donor in the eyes of the law, but a father. He is going to be responsible for child support for his offspring until the little tyke is eighteen. He may be expected to share custody. He's certainly going to be pressured to stick around, at least a little. It's a pretty heavy price to pay for a thoughtless round of casual sex, right?

At least, that's what we say when we're talking about the woman's right to kill her child, so as not to be stuck with parental responsibilities she hadn't intended on facing. But somehow, men are supposed to sit back, let the woman make her "choice," and be prepared either to walk away from their now-dead child, or to pay for the living child's first eighteen years of life.

How many men in this situation think that the mother of their child owes them an abortion?

I would be willing to bet that it's a rather large number. The whole point of "choice" was to make sex a fun evening's entertainment among any people instead of a sacred embrace between a man and a woman who, having first taken the step of making a public committment to each other, were fully prepared to raise any children who became the living symbols of their parents' love--indeed, the children were a feature of such a relationship, not an unpleasant side-effect to be avoided at all cost. "Choice" meant that women were just as free as men to pursue transient sexual relationships, from the one-night-stand or casual hookup to the so-called "committed relationship" which is defined as a relationship between two people who do not actually love each other enough to enter into a public civic and/or religious committment to each other, but instead make a private verbal committment which is worth exactly as much as verbal contracts usually are (e.g., not worth the paper they're not written on)--and everything in between. Because "choice" meant that women could become sexually permissive and promiscuous just like men, "choice" also meant that women who became pregnant during this sort of activity were going to exercice the "choice" that killed off the unwanted unborn child and got their men friends completely off the hook--so it's no wonder that some men, having discovered that this unspoken gentlemen's agreement is going to be violated by the woman he most recently enjoyed, and that he's going to be expected to pay for nearly two decades for a rather fleeting pleasure, discover their inner murderers and act accordingly.

By framing the whole abortion question around the woman, our society has left men--fathers--in a ridiculous position. If the mother of their child chooses to exercise her right to pay someone to kill that child for her, the father can move on with his life as the father of a dead baby, and never have to give the child another moment's thought--and if he doesn't want his baby to die, too bad! It's not his choice.

But if she chooses life--he's involved, financially and legally and morally, whether he wants to be or not. This gives men, especially the sort of men who find the life of casual sex preferable to the real commitment of marriage, a vested interest in abortion: in keeping it legal, in insisting that the women he is involved with are all in favor of it, and in pressuring any woman he impregnates to make the "choice" that doesn't require any effort, now or later, from him.

Some men have started questioning this double standard, and though the lawsuits mentioned in this story have failed to proceed, the question asked is a logical one for our present society with its disdain for morality and the traditional family: if the choice to have the baby or kill it is entirely the woman's, then shouldn't the responsibility for raising the child be entirely the woman's too? How can we treat men like negligible sperm donors one minute, and insist that they be fathers the next?

Those of us who do value morality and the traditional family look at things differently, but there's no denying that our culture values neither. So until or unless our culture decides to answer that question in such a way that does not give men a vested interest in abortion, abortion will remain a man's best friend--at least, for those men who disrespect women enough to view them as sterile sex objects instead of the future mothers of their children.


melanie said...

Very well said Red....keep fighting the good fight.

Barbara C. said...

Non-marital sex is riskier for women on every level than it is for men. Due to biology women are more susceptible to catching a disease from a man than a man is from a woman. Even if an unmarried woman can get child support from the biological father it usually doesn't cover child-rearing expenses as efficiently as a two-parent home with joint finances. And many men just send in the check but pass on their custody rights. (My nephew's biological father has never said one word to him in 20 years despite being accidentally in the same room with him on multiple occasions.)

Yes, it takes two to make a baby, but men can and do walk away all of the time. It may not be fair, but it is the reality of the situation.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I certainly agree that sexual contact should be "a sacred embrace between a man and a woman who, having first taken the step of making a public committment to each other, were fully prepared to raise any children who became the living symbols of their parents' love." Of course, throughout history, large numbers of men, including many who sincerely, if hypocritically, consider themselves to be "pillars of the community" and "righteous," have indeed felt free to pursue transient sexual relationships, from the one-night-stand or casual hookup to the so-called "committed relationship." Absent some enforcement mechanism, ranging from summary execution to child support litigation, men can walk away, while women cannot.

I have little sympathy for men who feel betrayed by what a woman chooses to do with a pregnancy the man helped her conceive. If the man suddenly cries "that's my baby too," well, before he sowed his seed so carelessly, he should have made sure he was lying with a woman who shared his convictions; preferably, he should have made sure he was in a covenant of marriage with her. As for the man who wants to know why SHE can choose abortion OR carrying the pregnancy to term... I once read an op-ed by a lawyer who wanted a legal provision that a man had 90 days after being informed of a pregnancy to renounce fatherhood. If he did, and the woman didn't abort, she was on her own. Nonsense.

It is a biological fact, known to anyone who manages to engage in sexual intercourse, that for nine months after conception, all the action is inside the woman's body. That's why it is her choice. A man who doesn't want to be in that position can avoid it. If they CHOOSE to take chances, without benefit of courtship, meeting of minds, and a covenant, that is the risk they take.

Red Cardigan said...

But why should the baby be the one to pay the ultimate price--the loss of her life--because of the risks her parents foolishly and selfishly took?

melanie said...

"absent some enforcement mechanism like summary execution to child support litigation, men can walk away while women cannot,,,". Right. That's what needs to change. I don't know how to change that. I like the summary execution idea- ha ha. But seriously, why should the baby be executed? He or she is innocent. I realize this is a biologically tough solution, to hold fathers accountable for the lives they create from conception. But I think that at the heart of abortion is less a women's need for casual sex and more men's. Call me crazy. But I think we could look at both biology as well as thousands of years of history to support that idea.

The important thing is what Red is doing is arguing for the value of the fetus from conception, because if we placed a significant value on that, we wouldvwork to change the circumstances which lead to it's murder. I may be speaking out of turn here, but I would venture to say that very very few women have abortions because they want to.
I think ideally, if we as a country, cared enough about the unborn, we could figure out a way to make people take sex and it's consequences, ie creating a new human being, more seriously. We just choose the lazy route and summarily execute the innocent. And their fathers have just as much blood on their hands as their mothers.

c matt said...

"Choice" is certainly not logically consistant with respect to the ability of the mother to make a choice, and the father to essentially be stuck with it. But then, no one ever said laws have to be consistant, and very few are. Laws don't refelct logic, they reflect society.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Red. I'm currently in the middle of a Facebook debate about abortion, which is headed nowhere. One of the most annoying statements I hear repeated over and over is that men have no right to an opinion on the matter because they will never be pregnant. My response has been twofold: first, men always have an interest in whether or not their child is born, as you pointed out above. Second we all- men and women alike- have a duty (not just a right- a duty) to speak out against injustice wherever we encounter it.

One of the most upsetting comments I've read is from a young man who says he is personally against abortion but doesn't think men have a right to an opinion in the matter. This has earned him no end of applause from the pro-abortion crowd, but it strikes me as a form of cowardice. It's like hearing from a 19th-century New Yorker that he is personally opposed to slavery, but since he doesn't live in a slave state, his opinion shouldn't count.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Analogies are greatly over-rated. A good analogy can help to explain a point, but it is never proof of anything. Slaves did not live inside their master's bodies.

There are many circumstances where I would think abortion an appropriate and humane measure, but, I have always said that if I were married, and my wife disagreed, ultimately, I would have to accept and support her decision. Not only is a pregnant woman the one who has to live through the morning sickness and the risks of hemorrhage, she is also the one who risks the depression and remorse which do sometimes follow abortion. I can offer my two cents worth, but it is her decision.

As a constitutional framework for the boundary between individual choice and state mandate, I accept Roe v. Wade. That is a jurisdictional question. As to whether abortion is, or ever can be, a moral or appropriate choice to make, speak on. Any woman who listens is free to choose to carry her pregnancy to term.

cmatt, once the baby is born I am all for the biological father having first claim before mommy can choose to put the baby up for adoption. But as long as she is carrying, inside her own body, that is precisely why the father doesn't get the same choice. When the fetus can be harmlessly transferred to the father's abdominal cavity, and safely grow there, I will support his right to make an equal choice.

Erika said...

Brilliant thoughts -- I very much enjoyed reading this. My husband and I were just discussing abortion in light of men's reproductive "rights" last night. I think the abortion question has the possibility of coming into the limelight in significant ways in the not-too-distant future over this issue. As we are slowly seeing in pocket cases here and there, men are going to start asserting their "right to choose" -- the fundamental question will be, will the the father have the same right as the mother to insist on an abortion? As the man in the article you linked pointed out, "Reproductive choice isn’t a fundamental right if it’s only limited to people who have internal reproductive systems. If it only applies to women, it’s a limited right and that weakens it."

And he has a valid point. I think it's a question that has the possibility to either strengthen and expand, or completely undermine, abortion. Of course I hope it's the latter, but only time will tell.

melanie said...

Imagine a world where we have finally realized the atrocity that abortion is. The systematic killing of the smallest, weakest and most fragile of humanity.

Instead, society expected couples, and more specfically men, to "man up" to the child they "accidentally" propagate.
In this case, women can't just become unpregnant. Now choice means:

1). The two people actually kind of like each other, maybe even could love each other and decide to get married and raise their baby.

2). The woman says okay this has happened, I'll keep my baby, but the man wants nothing to do with it. Then, the father has to pay a certain amount to her to relinquish his rights, and he must support her through her pregnancy to the extent that he is financially capable. Once she has the baby, she is free to move on, though he may have a monetary responsibility for the child until 18, but he has relinquished his rights to parenthood.

3). The woman wants nothing to do with a baby, but the man wants to raise his child. He supports her through the pregnancy, then she relinquishes her rights to him.

4). Neither parent wants the child. The father is required according to his financial means, support the woman through her pregnancy, then they relinquish their child to some of the millions of loving couples out there waiting for babies.

Finally, if they are too poor, then, instead of Planned Parenthoods, we have thousands of homes that nurture and care for pregnant women and their babies, until they place them for adoption with a loving couple, or are able to figure out a financial solution that allows them to keep their baby if that's what they decide.

Bottom line, a man doesn't get to just pretend it never happened. Maybe, he'ld think twice.....

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Those are all good choices Melanie. But Erika, I don't think the man has a valid point at all. The difference in rights between men and women, in this instance, reflects a distinct difference in risks and responsibilities.

It may be unfair that the risks and responsibilities are distributed in such an unbalanced way, but that was decided long before the U.S. constitution was written. Talk to God about it, or to Darwin if you don't believe in God. (Tongue in cheek; Darwin could only observe, he can't do a darn thing to change it.)

About half a century ago we abolished the arcane custom of separate bathrooms for "white" and "colored" people, because separate never is equal, and there was no objective basis for the distinction. But, we never abolished separate public restrooms for men and women, because there ARE differences. Women don't WANT bathrooms identical to those for men either.

This reminds me of the notion that it is discrimination on the basis of sex to allow women pregnancy leave, but not men. I am all for laws which in a neutral and balanced way allow any man or woman who is pregnant to take pregnancy leave. The fact is, not one man will qualify. (Whether fathers should have leave to care for their wife and bond with their child is another question - I'm for that, but only half the human race can be pregnant).