Men Might be the Key in Abortion-Choice Fight

Ideas and Issues

May 19, 2022

            San Francisco       In the countdown to the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade, there seem to be a bunch of strategies and tactics that are in the discussion mix.  Some states like California, New York, and Illinois are beefing up their services for women in expectation of out-of-state red state sisters needing support for their choices.  Planned Parenthood is expanding locations and construction at the borderland.  National magazines and women’s groups are touting and training in do-it-yourself responses and ways to provide mutual aid when necessary.  It’s a brave, new world coming, that too many of us remember from the old days, so people are getting ready on both sides of the line.

A friend shared with me something he had stumbled onto somehow.  It was a posting from a woman who called herself Design Mom.  She is a Mormon mother of six in Utah, from what she says.  Her take on this debate was straightforward and simple.  It boiled down to a simple truth:  if you want to fix the abortion issue and the issue of unwanted pregnancies, make men responsible.

I may not be able to do full justice to her total argument.  Some of it is common sense and other parts of it are way more controversial, but the core of her argument is that men make women pregnant.  A woman can only get pregnant in a small window every month and for several decades, but men can impregnate women virtually throughout their lifetime any day of the year, any time of the month.  If we want to stop unwanted pregnancies and increase the opportunity for women’s choice, we need to change the way men operate.

At the simplest level, she argues that men need to use condoms.  All the time.  She debunks all of the thin rationalizations by men not doing so by arguing something akin to a cost-benefit analysis.  For the small percentage of pleasure that some men might argue is decreased, the huge risk of pregnancy for the woman is worth the exchange.  We’ve seen in the HIV crisis how public health education and altered behavior reduced infections and deaths.  Why wouldn’t a more aggressive effort have huge benefits now as well?

She also argues for old school remedies like those trumpeted by the Catholic Church forever, but they also depend on men doing the right thing, which is always risky.  She puts vasectomies on the list of course.  Remember when there were billboards advertising these everywhere?  Not so much now.  Going across the line, she argues that castrations in some cases for men who have been bad actors in this arena would have a salutary impact of sending a message of prevention.  She knows that isn’t going to happen, but it underlines her fundamental argument that men are the problem here and dealing with men is the real solution to both the abortion debate, questions of choice, and unwanted pregnancies.

Something to think about for everyone.  Asking men to change the way they think and act is often a fool’s errand, but men need to do so and act now, and women need to demand that they do.