I’ve been party to more than one abortion. And as much as it’s nobody’s business but mine and that of the women involved, I’m not sorry or ashamed. In each circumstance, the safe, legal procedure worked as it was intended — it terminated an unwanted, unsafe, or ill-advised pregnancy. Abortion is health care.
In at least one case, the unintended pregnancy can be directly attributed to my wild irresponsibility as the wielder of a loaded penis. But even if I was arguably only 50% responsible, the resulting pregnancy would not have affected me in even close to a commensurate way.
As parenting blogger Gabrielle Blair (@designmom) put it on Twitter: “So… there are men willing to risk getting a woman pregnant [by having sex without a condom] — which means literally risking her life, her health, her social status, her relationships, and her career, so that they can experience a few minutes of _slightly_more pleasure? Is that for real? Yes. Yes it is.”
Yes. It is. Because that’s precisely what I did. And yet the costs to me personally had she chosen to remain pregnant? Essentially nil, despite the fact that, had it not been for my unprotected orgasm, she could not possibly have become pregnant. Any expectation to have an equal — or any — say in the outcome of her pregnancy, with all its attendant risks for her, would have been grotesque.
The physical, psychological, social, and economic perils of an unwanted pregnancy are virtually exclusive to the carrier of the baby; the providers of sperm, no matter how irresponsible, generally have little to lose and get off scot-free. And yet that lack of having any real skin in the game doesn’t seem to stop millions of men from subsequently demanding control over women’s lives and bodies.
I cannot fathom the mental contortions it must take to expect women to be in charge of birth control, yet also want to control what women do if they become accidentally pregnant, while simultaneously shrugging-off personal accountability and, quite often, refusing to support government policies that would assist a woman, or her child, once the baby is born.
To ignore men’s accountability for unwanted pregnancies despite us being arguably more to blame, yet still insist on forcing women to bear the überbrunt of what we’ve wrought, is not just mindless, it’s malicious. And I can only chalk it up to a base desire to control women’s bodies. It’s not about babies, or morality, or the sanctity of life; it’s about power and domination.
As @designmom further wrote (in a terrific thread you can find here), “Unwanted pregnancies can only happen when men orgasm irresponsibly… a woman can be the sluttiest slut in the entire world who loves having orgasms all day long and all night long and she will never find herself with an unwanted pregnancy unless a man shows up and ejaculates irresponsibly… Women enjoying sex does not equal unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Men enjoying sex and having irresponsible ejaculations is what causes unwanted pregnancies and abortion.”
Preach, sister. Any serious attempt to curb the number of abortions performed in this country, if that is indeed even a worthy goal, must start with the behavior of men. Men have it in their power to almost never cause an unwanted pregnancy. Until we’re willing to grapple with that inconvenient fact, there’s nothing to talk about.
Meanwhile, the punitive and authoritarian anti-choice laws currently being considered or passed by GOP legislatures and signed into law by GOP statehouses are an all-out assault on women’s freedom, health, and right to self-determination. They are anti-science, anti-reason, and anti-woman; they are political cudgels with which to beat women into submission and they will destroy millions of lives. And yet the current majority of the Supreme Court is primed (possibly even salivating) to undo decades of progress and precedent by upholding these horrendous laws and/or overturning Roe v. Wade. This is a now a stage-four alarm. The day reproductive rights activists have been warning us about for years is here. We should be frightened and outraged.
I pledge to actively work to defeat not only anti-choice politicians, but any candidate in 2020 (and beyond) who does not make women’s reproductive freedom one of the top issues of their campaign. No matter how progressive they claim to be, if they write off these threats to female autonomy as “a distraction” or subordinate to “working class economic concerns,” if they try to thread a needle to appease the religious or the conservative, or if they condescendingly pooh-pooh this as an exaggerated threat that can safely be ignored, they should be run out of the public square.
For me, only full-throated advocacy of a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, and a total acknowledgement that this is a fight of paramount importance and urgency, will suffice.