In the Blog

Men on “Their Abortions”

January 8th, 2008     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

According to a facinating and at times, deeply troubling article in the Los Angeles Times, there’s a burgeoning movement of what they’re calling “post-abortive men:”

Abortion is usually portrayed as a woman’s issue: her body, her choice, her relief or her regret. This new movement — both political and deeply personal in nature — contends that the pronoun is all wrong.

“We had abortions,” said Mark B. Morrow, a Christian counselor. “I’ve had abortions.”

What has come out of this movement is the first national conference on men and abortion. Lectures included “Medicating the Pain of Lost Fatherhood” and “Forgiveness Therapy With Post-Abortion Men.”

Obviously this kind of rhetoric is problematic because it sets up the very public emotional groundwork for men to intervene legally in a woman’s right to choose. Some critics also see it as having long term political implications that could adversely effect reproductive rights in the US:

“It’s a rule of thumb that if you want to get a law passed, you have to tell anecdotes that grab people,” said Dr. Nada Stotland, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Assn. Antiabortion activists have done that well, she said. “They’ve succeeded in convincing a lot of the American public” that abortion leaves women wounded. Now, those activists see an opportunity to dramatically expand the message…

…Abortion rights supporters watch this latest mobilization warily: If anecdotes from grieving women can move the Supreme Court, what will testimony about men’s pain accomplish?

I would never for a moment imply that a man’s emotional pain during the abortion process is not very real, I just don’t personally believe that it has a place in the political discourse of reproductive rights. While I believe that in a perfect world abortion is a decision made between two consenting adults who care about each other, that is not always the case. What would things be like for women if rapists had the right to legally intervene? What about women who are victims of incest? Beyond the extreme cases, if men have the power to legally decide the reproductive choices of their sexual partners that opens up a whole new set of anti-choice problems.

Jezebel.com points to a case where a Portland man tried to legally prevent a woman from giving birth to his biological child after she was accidentally inseminated with the wrong sperm at an Oregan sperm bank. The woman, even though not inseminated with her husband’s sperm as initially intended, decided to go ahead with the pregnancy because of her personal beliefs and her difficulty getting pregnant - the donor “thought he should be able to order her to have an abortion because it was his sperm.” While “changing abortion’s pronoun” has the intention of preventing women from aborting, when biological fathers have that kind of legal control the next logical action is forcing a woman to get an abortion - a place we should never be.

Via Jezebel.

Tags: body politics, news flash

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