Catholic Man UK recently attended the very joyful March for Life in London. One of the workshops before the main event was entitled, What it Means to be a Pro-Life Man. This article aims to extend the argument provided by the speaker, that we need to transform the narrative of male involvement in abortion and the abortion debate before we will see any real change.
WE already know that pro-abortionists use the arguments of misogyny and male oppression to create some kind of moral justification for their position. This paints a calculated picture of men as predatory, heartless monsters, abusing the rights and freedom of women. The deliberate and inevitable conclusion is that men have no right discussing the topic; they should be disenfranchised by total exclusion from the debate.
But let’s re-frame the argument. Abortion is a male issue because abortion is essentially a dethronement of fatherhood.
While feminists have long railed against the patriarchy, men themselves forget they have systematically shelved their paternal responsibilities and put their women and children in terrifyingly untenable situations.
How many of the 56 million abortions, annually, around the world have arisen from a lack of fatherly love, duty and commitment to the woman and child involved? Far from it being about women’s rights, women and children have suffered unimaginably from men’s overwhelming urge for recreational sex, irresponsible one-night stands, sex trafficking, abandonment of ‘unplanned’ pregnancies, their desire for material possessions that encourages a woman to pursue career over family, and their juvenile and selfish behaviours that can’t handle the thought of being responsible for another human being, particularly if it might require special sacrifices.
56 million abortions represent 56 million occasions where a man has not stepped up to the mark. Every year.
Take a typical AGI* list of reasons for having an abortion and ask, to what extent has the man so failed in his responsibilities of leadership, protection and provision, that the woman felt she had no other choice but abortion?
Rape and incest need little explanation. But what about the mother being too immature or young to have a child? Well, where was her own father in all this? We know that an absent father has a huge impact on whether his teenage daughter gets pregnant. And even if she was simply a wilful child, despite the best parenting, her father is still obliged to support her regardless of the shame, aggravation or expense it might bring him. That’s what men must do. And who was the irresponsible young man sleeping with a teenage girl anyway? Where was the education and discipline from his father with regard to paternal duties and responsibilities?
Other reasons women give for having abortions clearly implicate the man: the husband or partner wants her to have abortion; the woman's parents want her to have an abortion; the woman has problems with her relationship or wants to avoid single parenthood; she doesn't want others to know she had relations or is pregnant.
Where in all this is the committed, sacrificial support of a man? If a man had been present and faithful, would the woman have felt the need to get rid of the child? If her father had been less concerned about family honour, would she have felt the pressure to abort?
What about reasons for having an abortion that could be classed as a woman’s selfish lifestyle choice? She has all the children she wanted or all her children are grown; she is concerned about how having a baby would change her life; having a child would disrupt work or education; she can't afford a baby now; she feels unready for responsibility; there is a possibility of foetal health problems.
In all these instances, the woman is still having sex. With a man.
Where was his objective discussion with her about pregnancy? Where was his mature decision to hold off intercourse or to continue and commit to what might result? Where was the manly weighing up of the consequences? Where was the masculine genius of planning ahead and apportioning resources? Again, had the man shown love and fidelity, would the woman have felt the need for an abortion?
Finally, even in that most emotive and difficult situation regarding the life and health of the mother, the faithful support of a good man would provide some courage and confidence in the decision to keep the child.
At this point, it would be foolish not to reinforce the fact that the circumstances leading up to an abortion are fraught and complex, making it challenging to decide where the faults lie. There are also many exceptions to the rule, where the man has desperately wanted to keep the child and to provide for it, but where the woman has remained adamant that she can’t or won’t, even with the help of a faithful man.
Are we to blame men here? It would be hard to judge how far an environment in which many men have deserted their paternal responsibilities subconsciously impacts a woman’s fears about bringing a child into the world.
So, it may well be right that men are shut out from the debate about what a pregnant woman can or can’t do with her body. At this stage, the horse has already bolted.
The real debate should be about what a man does to a woman and her body before pregnancy even occurs!
This is where the narrative around men’s involvement in the matter must change. Men need to hear from other men that abortion is a man’s issue, because abortion is the consequence of a man’s abandonment of fatherhood.
Abortion stems from a man's ungoverned sexual impulses. Abortion is the result of a man’s lack of self-control. Abortion is the product of a man’s immaturity. Abortion is caused by a man’s lack of fidelity and commitment. Abortion arises from the absence of trained and disciplined fatherhood. Abortion happens because men do not want to take responsibility for their actions. Abortion endures because men have not been properly fathered, don’t know how to father, and don’t want to father.
In creating the conditions for abortion to occur, men have surrendered ownership of their nature as fathers. They have allowed abortion to dismantle fatherhood, and now fatherhood has been erased from the debate. The answer is to rebuild the narrative of men as fatherly protectors and as disciplined, defensive warriors of the family.
Abortion is unquestionably a man’s issue. For it to disappear altogether, we must change the narrative, and the narrative must be changed by courageous men.
* The Alan Guttmacher Institute is a research and policy organisation for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States. www.guttmacher.org