Men Should Have One Opinion About Abortion

It’s a woman’s choice, and that’s that.

I once volunteered to be a woman’s health clinic escort to impress a woman, a friend, I was infatuated with. I was 20 years old. I’m not proud of this but it is the truth. I wanted her to think I was sensitive and thoughtful and then, later, in my dorm room, I’d light candles and we’d hook up.

Ultimately, we were incompatible. She was politically active, socially responsible, passionate about defending the reproductive rights of all women and I was a creep who owned way too many candles because I read in a men’s magazine that they’d help me get lucky.

I think it’s difficult for men to understand the threat abortion poses to a woman’s personal liberty because male genital organs are the official heraldic symbol of the patriarchy and, therefore, sacred. There are, of course, more difficult concepts to understand in this life but the male imagination is in need of a little exercise sometimes. Maybe if I had known then what I know now I would have taken my job as a clinic escort more earnestly.

The clinic was located across the street from an evangelical church in Richmond, Virginia. Every Sunday they’d have service, chat afterward over coffee and donuts, and then pick up signs with provocative phrases on them and get to work shouting at women trying to buy some birth control.

My job was to walk women through the protestors. I was told to act emotionless and non-confrontational, even while being screamed at. And screamed at, I was. A man shrieked “baby killer” at me and, you know, it’s hard to have an honest dialogue with someone who starts a debate with “baby killer.” I became oddly mesmerized by a young, attractive protestor who roller-skated around holding up a poster that read “MURDERERS.” She was cheerful and her eyes crackled with a fanatical madness. Somewhere in that crowd of saintly protestors there was a dirtbag, just like me, showing off for her, and only her.

The one woman I managed to almost escort was a middle-aged and clearly hated me as much as she hated the protestors. She just wanted to see her doctor. I smiled at her as I tried to escort her to the clinic door. She turned to me and snarled: “Leave me alone.”

Georgia lawmakers recently introduced a law that would ban abortions after 6 weeks which would, essentially, restrict all abortions. Ohio and Alabama have also proposed laws that would criminalize women’s reproductive healthcare. These backwater states are in a sort of race to see which will be the first to set up birthing camps where women will be forced to come to term while handcuffed to hospital beds

These laws are riddled with scientific errors and, for the most part, written by men for the approval of men. When it comes to the abortion issue men generally fall into two categories: those who have endless opinions on women’s bodies and those who don’t. It’s easy to tell who’s who because the former never shuts up and the latter never speaks up.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I have one opinion and that opinion is: abortion prohibition didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. Anti-abortion laws didn’t stop abortions. It’s laughable to believe there was ever a time when the laws of man were able to fully stop all women from doing what they want with their bodies. At best, those oppressive laws just forced abortion into the shadows, far from the view of male society. And in those shadows, countless women suffered.

Outlawing abortion is not a serious solution if you are inclined to believe abortion is a problem, which it is not. If you want to reduce unplanned pregnancies then the most effective strategy is supporting education and birth control. Full stop. Everything else is moral flexing.

The politicians who oppose safe and legal access to reproductive healthcare are just showing off for the faithful, and each other. An ouroboros of righteous men patting themselves on the back. It’s all a game of who can scream “baby killer” the loudest. Virtue signaling, pure and simple, and I should know what that looks like.

Those melodramatic performances aside, however, there isn’t an anti-choice conservative alive who doesn’t know how to help their daughter out if she gets in trouble with the country club tennis coach.

I’m not saying that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy isn’t in danger though, because those rights are very vulnerable right now (and always, frankly.) The laws in Georgia and Ohio and Alabamistan are designed to threaten Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, which is the undying dream of the politically-powerful religious right. One country, crushed under their God. These conservatives act as if a burning bush told them to save every single embryonic stem cell. They are so single-minded in their holy war against abortion they may succeed.

You can’t reason with these pious old hypocrites, either. They talk like lawyers but froth like zealots. A crusader can’t be convinced his crusade is folly. They are unmoved by immigrant children kept in cages but firmly believe a pinch of reproductive tissue is a full-born baby. How can you argue with that? These are the same men who preach about small government but also want to tattoo “Property of Uncle Sam” inside every American womb. It’s a permanent fever.

What’s worse is these are the sorts of dudes who love to get tangled up in undergraduate philosophy conversations about when life begins and almost never arrive at the following logical conclusion: if the goal is to save microscopic zygotes then ejaculation should be illegal… or just heavily taxed. Although I would actually respect any man so committed to saving fetuses that he supported clamping electronic monitors on every pair of testicles. I’d respect him but, also, oppose him.

Men should not have opinions on abortion. Like Victorian children, we should be seen not heard. That includes me, of course. I do not have female reproductive organs and so, therefore, I do not know what I am talking about when it comes to a woman’s reproductive health choices. Do you know who else doesn’t know what they’re talking about? Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp and Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine, to name a couple.

Every man is born rich with opinions on issues he will be nakedly ignorant about for his entire life. I don’t know how else to explain why we’re so obsessed with thinking we know what’s best for everyone who isn’t us. But here’s what I do know: I’m not a hero and neither are the proud God-fearing men who think they can save women from themselves. It’s not our choice to make. That’s simple enough to understand, I think.

I was an abortion clinic escort for only one measly afternoon. Just writing that sentence makes me cringe. It’s amazing how little a difference a self-involved person can make in this world. Anyway, donate to Planned Parenthood or the National Abortion Rights Action League if you can.

Written by

Editor, Humungus. I won two James Beard Awards once for an essay about Taco Bell. Let’s be friends.

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