Why Is The Face Of Abortion Always A Woman’s?

Abortion unexpectedly plunged back into the news in recent weeks with the murder of Dr. George Tiller, who performed late-term abortions in Wichita, Kansas.

Everyone but the most far right extremists has condemned the killing and much of the media has focused on how this act of domestic terrorism is truly deplorable. But clinic violence, awful as it is, occurs rarely compared to the legislative assaults against reproductive rights. So in response, Maureen Tkacik (formerly Moe of Jezebel and Gawker) has written a piece for Lemondrop about the things we never mention about when we discuss about abortion—but probably should.

I found one of her observations particularly interesting: where do men fit in in all this?

I don’t think it’s fair that the women are the ones burdened with being the face of the movement all the time. It takes two people to get pregnant and men, of course, have reasons to want abortion to stay legal. But one rarely hears a man publicly state, “I’m so glad she terminated that pregnancy, because I couldn’t emotionally or financially handle the responsibility of becoming a father.” As Moe puts it:

Men must stop being silent on the subject.
Earlier (and primarily on the basis of my own anecdotal evidence), I dismissed the apocryphal “serial aborter” as a fantasy. But I wonder if the situation is different for guys. One of my male friends told me he’d sat in the waiting room during five separate abortions with various girlfriends over the years. It wasn’t wholly emotionless for him — he sold some treasured baseball cards to help pay for one of them — but his detachment about the whole ordeal was striking. While young dads are quick to attest to the magic of childbirth, you almost never hear them talk about the times they were reminded they weren’t ready for it.

I understand why the reproductive rights movement has focused mainly on women: the movement had to convince people women’s bodies belonged to themselves and not their fathers or husbands.

Yet I feel like the only time I hear men talking abortion is when it’s nutters like Scott Roeder, the guy who murdered Dr. Tiller, are railing against women who end a pregnancy. Every pro-choice parade I’ve been to has been mostly women, as has every pro-choice event at my college (a few years ago). I know men do attend these events and men like Dr. Tiller or even President Obama are vocal about being pro-choice. But I don’t see or hear a lot of pro-choice Average Joes weighing in on how it has benefited their lives.

If pro-choice men spoke up more about why they support abortion rights and how abortion allowed them to make better choices about their lives and be better fathers, it would be supportive to pro-choice women. (Especially women who are bravely talk publicly about their abortions, like the women in Jennifer Baumgardner and Gillian Aldrich’s documentary, “I Had An Abortion.”) Maybe men are afraid that if they sound too supportive of abortion, they’ll sound like “sluts”? That’s a concern that has dogged women who’ve openly talked about ending a pregnancy or three. But regardless, I think Moe’s right: men need to sing in the chorus more loudly. Their voices would certainly be welcome.