Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Roe v Wade: men also benefit from abortion rights – and need to talk more about it

It is striking that, as with many other gender equality issues, the positions of men with regard to abortion are rarely discussed.

In some ways, this is for good reason. Abortion is a healthcare issue for women (and trans and non-binary people with uteruses). It is about having the right to determine what happens to their own bodies. The fact that, despite all the medical knowledge and tools at our disposal in the 21st century, abortion rights remain threatened in so many countries, is probably in line with the desire of patriarchal societies to exercise control over women’s freedom – and deep-rooted patriarchal uncertainty about reproductive processes over which men have no power. Even now in the UK, for example, a woman needs the approval of two doctors to undergo an abortion.

Politics around the world remain highly masculine, so it is largely men in positions of power who vote to limit women’s bodily autonomy. Sharp photos of male lawmakers signing anti-abortion legislation remind us of this.

Similarly, many of the people involved in the anti-abortion movement, such as those protesting outside clinics with often misleading images and messages about dead fetuses, who intimidate patients and staff, are men.

Yet it is also possible for male politicians to vote to improve abortion rights. When the UK’s 1967 abortion law was introduced, 96% of MPs were men. One of us previously interviewed former Labor MP Peter Jackson, whose commitment was fueled by a woman in his constituency who was arrested for performing abortions. On his role in getting the legislation through parliament, Jackson noted:

If you ask me what my most important contribution was, it would be my role to bring about rights for women that they have never had before.

We therefore need more male parliamentarians to acknowledge their responsibility to act as allies for women. But while the situation has improved since the 1960s, we also need much better representation of women in politics, to increase the likelihood that women’s needs and experiences will really be taken into account in decision – making.

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How men benefit from reproductive freedom

Of course, pregnancy will also rarely occur without the presence of (cisgender) men. It is remarkable how little it is acknowledged in conversations about abortion. You can sometimes be left thinking women are somehow getting pregnant themselves.

It remains a stubborn gender norm in heterosexual relationships that responsibility for the day-to-day management of contraceptives and other aspects of sexual and reproductive health is placed disproportionately on women – even though sex is simultaneously presented as something initiated primarily by men and for male pleasure. . We do not engage nearly enough with men and boys about healthy sex and relationships, and their role in the sexual and reproductive well-being of themselves and their partners.

Boys still often receive little education about women’s reproductive health, such as learning about menstruation. Sometimes abortion debates illustrate this, with male legislators showing a lack of basic understanding about female reproduction. It is also noteworthy that the rate of vasectomy in the UK has declined in recent years, despite being a relatively simple procedure.

Protesters march outside the US Supreme Court to oppose the overthrow of Roe v Wade.
Alamy

An important step forward would therefore be for men to realize how much we also benefit from women’s right to an abortion. Given that an estimated 45% of pregnancies in the UK are unplanned, numerous men (including many in positions of power) who were not ready to be parents or did not intend to become older could lead freer lives and be fuller enjoy careers. because their sex partner could get an abortion. With the freedom to have children only when people feel ready to do so, a man can possibly be saved from unwanted parenting many more times in the course of his life than a woman – without necessarily even being aware of it.

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The vast majority of people (86%) in the UK, including men, support the right to an abortion. The majority of people in the US are also in favor of it. But you may not know it, given the silence of most men outside the vocal minority who are opposed.

Sexual and reproductive health and parenting are also men’s business and responsibility, and we will all benefit from talking about them more openly and honestly – with our friends, our sons and by joining calls for social change, as well as about reflect on our own practices.

Start the conversation

Making abortion decisions can be difficult and can lead to a range of complex emotions, which can be difficult to know how to deal with when so little is discussed. In a recent conversation we had with a gender equality activist in Ireland, he articulated that people who tell their personal stories of what abortion has meant to their lives have moved the conversation away from abstractions about zygotes and embryos. He felt it was a key factor in the landslide of Irish voting to legalize abortion in 2018.

Of course, this should not mean that men take over the conversation or make everything about us. Men can also have too much influence on pregnancy by trying to enforce their desires – and reproductive coercion is a common aspect of domestic abuse. It is important to recognize that this is primarily about supporting women’s right to choose what happens to their bodies – and to listen much more to their needs and experiences.

However, there have been beneficial outcomes in many men’s lives as a result of decisions to undergo an abortion. Perhaps this fundamental human right will only be better protected if we begin to recognize it more.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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