Men, Abortion and Birth Control
The overturn of Roe vs Wade has provoked conversation around cis male contraceptive methods and our place in the abortion debate. Some of the conversation has been misinformed.
The overturn of Roe vs Wade has provoked conversation around cis male contraceptive methods and our place in the abortion debate. Some of the conversation has been misinformed and therefore, unhelpful. Let’s unpack some of what we might see.
“Men should shut up”
So firstly, this is illogical from a political perspective. In simple terms, we need more people of voting age to agree that everyone should have bodily autonomy and vote with that as a priority.
Secondly, it plays into the idea that men need not bear any of burden parenting. Even in our progressive society where cis men do more childcare and housework than we ever did before, the labor balance is still unequal because we still believe they are assisting cis women in their work rather than doing our own.
Thirdly, trans men and other non-cis people may have a uterus and are directly affected by restricting access. Inclusivity is important.
Lastly, many of the cis women who vote against their own bodily autonomy are far more likely to dismiss and ridicule the views of non-men who disagree with them due to their own internalized misogyny.
“Men stopped the trials of oral contraception due to side effects”
This might be true if you think of your average ethics board as mostly cis male (it is). But it wasn’t the participants who halted trials.
These trials have been unsuccessful because finding a universal dose of a drug that works for all human Sperm Producers over the long term has been challenging.
Side effects have been an issue but that’s to do with what modern ethics committees find to be acceptable in terms of reported side effects. Trials for the contraceptive pill targeted at cis women would not pass the ethical standards we have today.
“Pills will be the go-to reversible male birth control”
Surgical options are also on the cards. The issue with pharmaceutical methods is that it will need to severely and consistently reduce the production of millions of sperm when only one sperm is needed for conception. Reversible surgical options are seeming like they will be more effective for a wider range of Sperm Producers.
“All men should get vasectomies.”
This would mean a lot of great Sperm Producers who would be fantastic parents wouldn’t get the chance to have biological children.
Firstly, accessing vasectomy in a place like the USA where healthcare is a privilege for the wealthy is difficult. Many people are already delaying health concerns due to their inability to afford medical bills and/or time off work. So it is unrealistic to ask them to have an elective procedure like a vasectomy, even if theoretically it would cost less than a child.
Secondly, vasectomy doesn’t lend itself to reversability so it is not really even a valid comparison. It would cost more money to have a reversal that likely wouldn’t work.
This leads nicely to another point:
“Freeze your sperm if you might want kids later”
This sounds like a good plan but really, it just means that a Uterus Owner will have to have invasive and expensive fertility treatments to conceive with you. When you freeze sperm, you can’t just pop it in when you’re ready and expect a baby to grow.
At the very least, the person wanting to be pregnant has to undergo Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) which is expensive, physically grueling, and has mixed rates of success. Of course, the number of attempts you have is also limited by how much sperm you have frozen.
So if everyone got a prophylactic vasectomy and froze their sperm, many people who want to become pregnant by their partner would face considerable barriers. The most privileged people would have the best chance of becoming biological parents. People from a marginalized demographic would have even more of a barrier to parenthood as everyone who wants to conceive would need fertility assistance.
“People can just adopt”
When you plan and conceive a biological child, you have a level of control that you do not have with adoption. Even open adoption. One of the most significant factors, in my opinion, is control of your environment during the pregnancy, birth, and onwards.
This doesn’t mean to say that everything will go to plan or that you or your child won’t experience unexpected challenges. But, when a child is not being raised with its biological family, they have an increased chance of having a genetic or physiological factors predispostion towards physical, emotional or social difficulties.
This isn’t always adequately communicated to potential parents, partly because it cannot be predicted with enough certainty to risk harming the child’s chances of a successful match. Some potential parents specify that they aren’t prepared to raise a child with specialist needs, yet find out they have one much later on. This can lead to dissolution or disruption of the adoption.
“With no abortions, more ‘healthy’ babies will be available” (Pro-life argument)
Let’s also put this in the context of it being less privileged parents who could not freeze enough sperm to successfully utilize expensive fertility treatments who seek adoption.
Less privileged parents raising the biological children of those (at least) equally marginalized and now (more) traumatized people who were forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term then surrender the now baby for adoption. A baby who has grown in the uterus of a person in physiological despair.
Less privileged parents who have already undergone the emotional disappointment of failed fertility treatments. At least one parent who bore the physical burden of that.
Less privileged parents in places where access to the specialist services that these adopted children will need is expensive and/or rationed. Less privileged parents who forego their own specialist care needs to ensure the children can have it instead.
I don’t think anyone concerned will stay ‘healthy’ in those conditions.
“Just stop having sex with men”
Again, this punishes cis women who have or seek cis male partners. Not only are many cis women already partnered in relatively happy and stable heterosexual relationships with cis men, it puts the onus on said cis women to control themselves rather than holding cis men accountable for anything they’re not doing.
The most significant thing it ignores is conception via rape which is a reason some people are seeking a termination of pregnancy to begin with.
The only people who shouldn’t have a say about this are those who think people shouldn’t be able to control their own fertility. We need the rest to speak out loud.