Abortion advocates repeatedly make the claim that men can’t talk about abortion. During my many pro-life outreaches on college campuses, men have been told to mind their own business and to shut up because they can’t get pregnant. This charge is primarily made to pro-life men. Men have also confided in me they don’t believe their voice matters simply because they are men.
As a woman, I have a very different response to men speaking about abortion. The claim that a man cannot speak about abortion simply because he is a man is sexist. It attacks the individual rather than addressing the intellectual soundness of the argument being presented. Abortion’s is not a “woman’s issue”. It’s a human issue.
There is no doubt that abortion affects men and women differently. Women are the ones who carry the children inside of them. We are the ones who walk into the abortion clinic and experience the invasive intrusion of abortion instruments. Men cannot experience any of those things. However, just because we do not experience abortion the same way does not mean the man’s experience is not important. Abortions are killing the children of men as well as women. This is a human rights issue that all of us are obligated to speak out on regardless of your sex.
Let’s recall the pro-life position– It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being; abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being; therefore, abortion is wrong.
Nothing about this argument hinges upon a person’s sex. Arguments are not more or less valid depending on who is espousing them. Arguments should be assessed on the strength of the reasoning; not on the superficial fact that someone is a man.
As Jay Watts points out, claiming that a man cannot speak about abortion because he is a man is an ad hominem attack. In other words, rather than address the science and philosophy behind the pro-life position, the person who dismisses the pro-life argument simply because a man is speaking is not in fact making an argument. They are using a weak, personal attack to avoid an intellectual discussion on an important issue.
Furthermore, the Roe decision was decided by nine men. If those who raise the “men can’t talk about abortion” attack truly meant it, then it would follow they would also believe Roe is a bad legal decision as it was decided by men who can’t get pregnant. But they don’t. So it reveals a one-sided, unfair attack that is meant to primarily silence pro-life men.
To further demonstrate how fallacious this attack is, imagine if someone were to make the claim that if you are not Jewish, you have no right to speak out against anti-semitism. That would be a ridiculous claim, and we would recognize that because Jews are human beings. Whether or not I am Jewish, I have a right and an obligation to defend their right to live and to be treated with respect and dignity. Just because I may never experience anti-semitism, does not mean I cannot address the moral wrong of anti-semitism.
True and coherent arguments do not hinge upon the speaker’s sex or ethnic background. I view the willingness of men to speak out about abortion as something to be encouraged and appreciated from both sides. Good men are often coming from a place of caring for women and wanting them to be able to succeed. However, it needs to be acknowledged that many men, pro-choice and pro-life, speak in a manner that is unhelpful. Some support abortion out of a selfish desire to be rid of responsibility. Others incorrectly view abortion as freeing to women not recognizing the damage it does. On the other hand, those who who are pro-life have often chosen a condemning tone towards women without being aware of the role the men in her life had in her choosing abortion. This posture towards women builds walls towards men as the women feel they do not understand or care about what she goes through.
Power can be used for good or evil. Men and women are made in the image of God and they exercise different roles, both of which are indispensable. Those differences in men and women are complementary and they make us strong. In various ways, both sexes exercise power over the other. A woman who supports and cares for her husband can do great good in a man’s life. A woman who does not support her husband and tears him down can do great harm to him. The same goes for men. When men treat us as objects to be used for sexual pleasure they cause a lot of damage to a fellow human being. When men look down at us in condemation for an abortion decision without showing genuine care, compassion, and concern for us as women, they damage their chance of ever reaching our hearts. Truth must be communicated out of love. If it is not, then the truth is often missed and the harsh tone is what is remembered.
Men have been gifted with greater physical strength and with that strength comes the call to use it in a gentle and empowering manner. This call to use their strength for the good of others has been greatly damaged by a cheap view of sex. Many men have used and manipulated women for temporary pleasure and then discarded them when pregnancy resulted. Women were not meant to be abandoned when a new life begins forming in their body. Men and women are intended to be in a faithful relationship supporting each other. The affect of cheap sex, the abuse of power, relinquished responsibility, and selfish acts of many men have placed many women in desperate situations.
Large numbers of women have had bad experiences with men. These negative experiences make it all the more crucial for good and faithful men to speak clearly about this issue. There is a bad and cruel side to men that women are quite familiar with. There is also a gentle and good side that many of them have not experienced.
To the men who recognize their responsibility as faithful husbands, fathers and friends, I want to encourage you. Do not remain silent. To the men who understand how to use their power to support and love people, use your voice to gently communicate those truths. Women need to see that. If they are allowed to experience the dark side of men, let them also see the good side in you. That good side is powerful and when it is used correctly, the world is a better place.
Personally, I know many men who gently and compassionately speak about this issue because they don’t want women to suffer. They don’t want a woman to experience killing her preborn child. They want to see men treat women with respect and gentleness, honoring and supporting her ability to carry another human inside of her. And I highly respect and admire them.
The recognition of the value of women and children compels many men to speak out against abortion. They recognize women deserve better. Men have been created to provide for and to protect women and children. As Gianna Jensen has accurately stated, men are “made for greatness” and that greatness is realized when they use their power and influence to help women and children–born and unborn. Their concern for my body and the preborn child within me reflects a commendable characteristic about them. This care and concern they show for marginalized people should be applauded, appreciated and respected; not dismissed, shut down, and shamed.
Image credited to Elvert Barnes