Abortion Is a Men’s Issue, Too. So Why Aren’t Men Speaking Out?

by on May 16, 2019 · 3 comments

in Civil Rights, Women's Rights

By ZawnVillines / Daily Kos / May 16, 2019

One in four women has had an abortion. It’s a figure that’s prompted activists to remind us that everyone loves someone who has had an abortion, and that group discussions of abortion will almost always include at least one person who has undergone the procedure. Many women have worked tirelessly to destigmatize abortion. They’re willing to risk their lives and reputations, subjecting themselves to judgment, derision, and threats, to share their abortion stories.

Yet a person with a penis is involved in 100% of abortions. Where are they? Why aren’t they shouting their own abortion stories, talking about how abortion allowed them to pursue their dreams, live their lives, and pursue financial health?

I know dozens of women who devote every spare second they have to fighting for safe and legal abortion. Many of them also have full-time jobs and multiple children. Where are their husbands?

I want to live in a world where men are as involved in the fight for reproductive freedom as women. I want to see men giving up their last moments of free time to call yet another legislator, make yet another donation, read yet another article.

Men make up the overwhelming majority of the anti-choice movement. The legislators sponsoring restrictive abortion bills across the nation are exclusively or almost exclusively male. Men seem perfectly comfortable speaking out in favor of controlling women’s bodies. It’s time for pro-choice men—and the many men on the fence who have benefited from abortion—to speak out, too.

Abortion: A Men’s Health Issue, Too 

We talk about abortion as a women’s health issue, and it is. When a man’s partner is pregnant, he does not have to undertake the risk of giving birth in the United States, the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth. He does not have to face pregnancy discrimination or the stigma of an unwanted pregnancy. He won’t be the one getting a $60,000 bill he can’t pay from a hospital that provided substandard care. The risks of pregnancy fall disproportionately to women, but men also benefit from abortion.

For every woman who has an abortion, there’s a man who doesn’t have to parent a child, pay child support, or give up his goals for his future. Abortion saves men’s lives and dreams. It allows them to grow up, move on, and eventually have healthy relationships with planned and wanted children.

In many cases, men benefit from abortions without doing any work at all. The woman pays for the abortion, doesn’t ask the man to help her recover, doesn’t even ask him to go with her. And even when the man does support the woman, he gets all of the benefits of abortion with none of the risks. He doesn’t have to be in pain or recover. He doesn’t have to be called a slut or baby-killer by people protesting outside of abortion clinics. Abortion is a great deal for men.

Abortion is still legal in Georgia and Alabama, and the lower courts will almost certainly prevent the new bans from going into effect. But what if they don’t?

We often admonish men to care about this because women are their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers.

Women are also people. That alone should be sufficient reason to care. Because it’s not, men should also consider that if abortion access is limited, their responsibilities are about to change. They’ll have to worry almost as much as women about unplanned pregnancies. Their lives stand to change, too.

Perhaps men will begin to finally feel some of the burdens associated with unwanted pregnancy. Maybe a ban on abortion will force men to see how deeply they benefit from the procedure.

Or maybe they’ll lash out at their partners. Homicide is a leading cause of death among pregnant women. Women are more vulnerable to abuse during pregnancy than at any other time during their lives. This sociological pattern of abuse will almost certainly escalate if women are forced to give birth to babies they and their partners do not want.

Abortion Activism: Another Form of Emotional Labor 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably already heard about emotional labor—the many ways we demand emotional and mental work from women, from smiling on command to strangers and responding graciously to sexual harassment to juggling a disproportionate share of household management.

Abortion activism has become just another form of emotional labor we expect of women. Men created this problem. It’s men trying to control women’s bodies, trying to put them in jail for having abortions. Men should be the ones fighting back, too.

Women shouldn’t have to explain to men the fundamental fact that women are people. They shouldn’t have to educate them about our extraordinarily high maternal mortality rate, or show them the data linking low abortion access to more poverty, more abuse, and worse mental health. They shouldn’t have to field questions from men pleading, “I don’t know what to do! What can I do?” If women can figure it out, so too can men. This information is readily available to anyone who seeks it out. It’s time for men to do some work of their own. Consider how you’ve benefited from abortion. Educate other men. Stop demanding more and more and more from the women whose lives are endangered.

Abortion Restrictions Control Men, Too

An avalanche of evidence suggests that abortion restrictions are not about protecting life, but controlling women. Legislators who oppose abortion do not support any measures that could lower the abortion rate. They don’t care about maternal mortality or domestic violence. They’re uninterested in supporting impoverished children or extending paid parental leave. It has always been about controlling women.

Perhaps if they understood that their legislation also controls men, they might change their minds. Men, it’s time to step up. This is going to affect your lives, too. Don’t build your freedom on the backs of exhausted, demoralized women. What are you going to do about this?

Note: Some men do speak out for abortion rights. I’m keenly aware of this fact. Lectures about how #notallmen leave the heavy lifting to women, however, are unhelpful. If you’re one of the good ones, don’t prove it by leaving a comment telling me how great you are. Prove it by using that energy to write a legislator, donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds, or share your own abortion story. The fact that some men’s behavior is inconsistent with the pattern does not mean the pattern doesn’t exist.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

T May 16, 2019 at 4:59 pm

Maybe when more men are tracked down to pay child support for a child they didn’t know they had because of their irresponsible behaviors or when a baby gets dropped on their doorstep because the mother couldn’t care for it, maybe then more men will take their heads out of their asses and pay attention to the ramifications of their actions. It takes two to create a baby.

Familial DNA tests are pretty cheap.

Look out men, the women you are forcing to have your babies are coming after your wallet.


Chris May 17, 2019 at 9:02 am

Ironically, most of adamant “pro life/anti abortion” people I encounter are Evangelical or Roman Catholic conservative leaning women. That probably doesn’t reflect the actual stats of anti abortion men to anti abortion women, but the fact is there are lots and lots of anti abortion women. That seems to get overlooked.


Eric May 18, 2019 at 7:54 am

I hear the men argue that they have no say over an abortion if a woman they were with becomes pregnant. I always counter that they absolutely do. Once they have freely released their little swimmers and gifted them to their female partner they have released (in a manner of speaking) all say in what happens unless the woman decides to grow that which was given to her. If the guys don’t want a women to have abortions then they should keep their little buddies in their pants or stfu. Their bodies, their decision.


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