I’m fascinated by the extreme lengths some states have gone to outlaw abortion. One anti-abortion law brandishes a 99-year maximum sentence for any woman who gets an abortion, regardless of the circumstances. All of them proffer long prison sentences. All of them punish any doctor who performs an abortion. But none of them hold any man accountable for giving rise to unwanted pregnancy in the first place.
A fact often ignored by the proponents of anti-abortion laws is that women cannot get pregnant without sperm from a man. But judging by the way these anti-abortion laws are fashioned, male accountability is not even a factor. I guess that should be expected since the people who write those laws are men.
It would seem then that the males who write those laws assume that they are dominant, that they have something called “dominion”. What a fanciful religion that is, one that is custom built to make males superior to females. The only purpose of seeking, acquiring and maintaining dominance is to avoid accountability. I’ve looked around at dominance, from home to city, to business, to state and to nation, and at every scale, I see the same thing. Those who are dominant cannot be held accountable.
If I am dominant, I have more power than every other person. Who can stop me from doing what I want to do? These anti-abortion laws say, in so many words, that women should be held accountable for the mistakes of men in reproductive choices, even though men are dominant.
I see something similar in social safety net laws. Conservatives say that they want to cut the fraud, waste, and abuse of social safety net laws. They work tirelessly to cut Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). But they omit that most of the recipients are women and children. And those women have kids and the man has left them.
I’ve reviewed the statistics on the reasons women give for having an abortion. The overwhelming majority cite the lack of support from the responsible male in their lives. The anecdotal evidence says that they’re scared, they’re alone and that they can’t work and raise a child at the same time. Among other reasons, they said that they had abusive partners, that giving birth is expensive, and that they’re not ready, emotionally, to have a child. The evidence I’ve cited so far doesn’t even take into account circumstances involving sexual assault.
So when I see just how extreme these laws are, I see something else. There is an implied message from the people who write anti-abortion laws: if you’re pregnant and need support, go to church. You’ll find all the support you need for you and your baby there.
But I’ve seen and read stories of women who tried to go to their church for help, and they received a big dollop of shame instead. As if it’s just the fault of the woman for getting pregnant.
I’m not sure that these anti-abortion laws are about saving lives anymore. Women who are destitute, with a child, in need of support while raising their child, are not living a great life. Where are those strong Christian men when they’re needed? I don’t think they’re in church.
I’m not Christian, but I have strong family values. I work every day to care for my family, to earn the money needed to support a home, the food, and everything else we need and more. My wife stays home to tend to the kids. My parents are not Christian, but they stuck together and raised me and 3 other siblings. They made sure we were autonomous adults when we left home to make our own homes.
When I read of stories of elected officials who tell their mistress, “Pssst! I need you to get an abortion and pronto before the shit hits the fan,” I can hardly believe that these same men have railed against abortion and sometimes write anti-abortion laws.
Anyone who says we need Christian values might want to check out the divorce rate demographics by religion. They might notice that people who are not religious actually have a lower rate of divorce than the Evangelical Christians who write those anti-abortion laws. In fact, among Christians, Evangelicals have the highest rate of divorce.
While sex can be fun, it’s not a game. The men are involved, but the women are committed. That’s how we’re wired. I have little respect for a man who leaves a woman pregnant with no visible means of support. I have even less respect for a group of people who say that abortion should be outlawed but refuse to make men accountable.
The impression I get from the Evangelical Christians who write these anti-abortion laws is that they want to punish the woman however they can for getting pregnant in the first place, but they cut the man loose. This is the definition of dominance. All power, no accountability.
Punishment doesn’t teach any skills. Punishment is not even a deterrent in the heat of the moment. Teaching relationship skills will prevent unwanted pregnancy and divorce. Teaching biology to boys and girls will prevent unwanted pregnancy. That’s education.
MTV has 9 seasons of “Teen Mom 2” and it still in production and on air. The stories I read about that show said that it had a profound effect on the adolescent boys and girls who watched it. They saw the real-life effects of an unwanted pregnancy. And Fortune magazine reported a study that showed a major decline in teen pregnancy as a result of airing 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.
Real life stories presented in a format that is easy for kids to understand will go a long way towards preventing unwanted pregnancy. Teaching kids about the natural consequences of their decisions is what Teen Mom is about. Teaching young adults that men and women are peers and that both are responsible for their decisions will help to reduce unwanted pregnancy.
Those anti-abortion laws were written by busy-bodies too busy to notice the effects of their own behavior and that they really lack the moral standing to tell everyone else what to do. Nobody wants an abortion. But when young women are faced with a life with a baby, without support from the man responsible for the pregnancy in the first place, an abortion means that she can avoid an unintended life-changing consequence and try again with a man who is responsible and will care for her and her baby. This is something that those busy-bodies failed to notice.
A real solution to the problem of abortion is not punishment, it’s education. No preaching, no pontification, no fire and brimstone are required. All that is needed is an empathetic examination of the natural consequences of our actions. A man only needs to see that he too, is accountable to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.