There is apparently a new men’s rights, anti-abortion movement underway that seeks to change political and personal language from “I had an abortion” or “she had an abortion” to “We had an abortion.” Be prepared to get pissed off. I personally feel like breaking a few things. Also, I encourage you to read the whole article, because I’m going to chop it up a little.
Jason Baier talks often to the little boy he calls Jamie. He imagines this boy — his son — with blond hair and green eyes, chubby cheeks, a sweet smile.
But he’ll never know for sure.
His fiancee’s sister told him about the abortion after it was over. Baier remembers that he cried. The next weeks and months go black. He knows he drank far too much. He and his fiancee fought until they broke up. “I hated the world,” he said.
Baier, 36, still longs for the child who might have been, with an intensity that bewilders him: “How can I miss something I never even held?”
These days, he channels the grief into activism in a burgeoning movement of “post-abortive men.” Abortion is usually portrayed as a woman’s issue: her body, her choice, her relief or her regret. This new movement — both political and deeply personal in nature — contends that the pronoun is all wrong.
“We had abortions,” said Mark B. Morrow, a Christian counselor. “I’ve had abortions.”
Oh hell no. Back the fuck up a minute, buddy.
Who had an abortion? Funny me, I always thought that pronouns were meant to be about accuracy, not your ego. And from your statements, it sounds like you have never personally had female reproductive capacity. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like your fiancee had an abortion. Were your legs in stirrups? Did you have the contents of your uterus suctioned out? Did you bleed and have cramps and have to refrain from sexual intercourse for your own health afterwards? Did you have to face — either actually or mentally — the accusations of “whore,” “irresponsible,” or “baby killer?” Did you have to wonder how and if to tell your family, or how to get time off of work? Hell, did you even pay for it? Because actually, it sounds like you didn’t.
Now, obviously, this is in no way saying that men are totally uninvolved in abortion emotionally and that men don’t frequently provide support to their partners. What it is to say is that it’s not the same damn thing. If a man has testicular cancer (to choose a mild to moderate medical and emotional trauma that only biological males can experience), and his wife/girlfriend/whatever worries about him, supports him, helps him during recovery, assists in paying the medical bills, etc., she is certainly involved and invested. But I think that pretty much anyone would be offended if she actually suggested “we had testicular cancer.”
Abortion rights supporters, of course, acknowledge that men play varying roles with regard to abortion and can indeed feel emotional pain afterwards. And yet, the antis just don’t quite seem to get it:
Even abortion rights supporters acknowledge that men may benefit from counseling when they and their partners face an unwanted pregnancy. Sociologist Arthur Shostak has interviewed thousands of men waiting in abortion clinics; though they tried to project strength to help their lovers through the ordeal, many told him that they felt powerless, anxious and alone. Some dreamed about the children they would never know.
Shostak encourages clinics to reach out to these men. But he views the activist movement with alarm.
Recruits often cycle through church-based retreats, support groups and Bible studies that aim to heal post-abortion trauma. The men are urged to think of themselves as fathers, to name — and ask forgiveness from — the children they might have raised, had their partners not aborted.
At one retreat, the men are told to picture their sons and daughters dancing in a sunny meadow at the feet of Jesus Christ.
“They draw in men who may have a little ambivalence, possibly a little guilt, and they exacerbate those feelings,” Shostak said.
Well, it’s good to see that no matter how much things change, the more they stay the same. Manipulation of people’s emotions? Check. Forced guilt? Check. Making women who have abortions sound like evil whores who ruin men’s lives by killing “their babies?” Big, fat, bold check.
I’m not denying that this shit is clever. In fact, what infuriates me is that it actually seems to work. We seem to have gone from “abortion is murdering babies” to “abortion hurts women” and now to “abortion hurts men.” Yeah: they’ll try anything.
“It’s a rule of thumb that if you want to get a law passed, you have to tell anecdotes that grab people,” said Dr. Nada Stotland, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Assn. Antiabortion activists have done that well, she said. “They’ve succeeded in convincing a lot of the American public” that abortion leaves women wounded.
Now, those activists see an opportunity to dramatically expand the message.
The Justice Foundation recently began soliciting affidavits from men; one online link promises, “Your story will help legal efforts to end abortion.” Silent No More encourages men to testify at rallies.
Therapist Vincent M. Rue, who helped develop the concept of post-abortion trauma, runs an online study that asks men to check off symptoms (such as irritability, insomnia and impotence) that they feel they have suffered as a result of an abortion. When men are widely recognized as victims, Rue said, “that will change society.” [my emphasis]
If that doesn’t elicit bitter laughter, I don’t know what will. When women are recognized as victims? Society just keeps on raping them, beating them, and desperately trying to snatch away any other type of female bodily autonomy they still legally have left. But once men feel some pain — especially at the hands of stupid, selfish whores! — the sad thing is that yes, I do believe it has the potential to make people pay attention and want change.
I also have to say that no, this Morrow guy doesn’t deserve our damn sympathy. At first, he may just come off as a self-righteous, ignorant douche who is handling his grief very poorly. But actually, he’s a massive, massive asshole:
Morrow, the counselor, described his regret as sneaking up on him in midlife — more than a decade after he impregnated three girlfriends (one of them twice) in quick succession in the late 1980s. All four pregnancies ended in abortion.
Years later, when his wife told him she was pregnant, “I suddenly realized that I had four dead children,” said Morrow, 47, who lives near Erie, Pa. “I hadn’t given it a thought. Now it all came crashing down on me — look what you’ve done.”
A few months ago, Morrow reached out to the ex-girlfriend who aborted twice. They met and prayed together, seeking peace. After they parted, she spilled her anger in a letter: “That long day we sat in that God-forsaken clinic, I hoped every moment that you would stand up and say, ‘We can’t do this’. . . but you didn’t.”
Isn’t it funny how a guy can impregnate three women a total of four times in only a few years, watch every pregnancy end in abortion, and then years later think “oh god, what have I done to those poor embryos?” No guilt about the girlfriend who had abortions when she didn’t want to because she didn’t know how to talk to him about it. No guilt or responsibility for being a very lazy user of contraception (not entirely his responsibility, of course, but still). No thinking about how the women felt, no wondering if they were okay, if they went through pain, if they mourned. Not even “hey, I was a huge contributer to three different women’s lives being at least temporarily fucked up.” Just thoughts about how those women killed his babies, and how he, with the incredibly strength and arrogance that he feels has to automatically come along with the possession of a penis, could have stopped them. Whether they wanted to be stopped or not. “Look what you’ve done,” he says to himself. Because apparently, he thinks that he had control over the situation all along.
Nah, no misogyny there.
In fact, it seems like the LA Times couldn’t find a single non-asshole to interview on the subject. Does that mean they just did some really shitty reporting (after all, there is a non-quote statement about how a man wishes he could have “save[d] the babies”)? Or is it because only arrogant assholes would join a movement designed to outlaw the right for women to control their own bodies, solely because their personal male feelings have been hurt? I’ll let you decide:
Aubert, 50, was equally untroubled when another girlfriend had an abortion in 1991. “It was a complete irrelevancy,” he said. But years later, Aubert felt a rising sense of unease. He and his wife were cooing at an ultrasound of their first baby when it struck him — “from the depths of my belly,” he said — that abortion was wrong.
Aubert has since converted to Catholicism. He and his wife have five children, and they sometimes protest in front of abortion clinics. Every now and then, though, Aubert wonders: What if his first girlfriend had not aborted? How would his life look different?
He might have endured a loveless marriage and, perhaps, a sad divorce. He might have been saddled with child support as he tried to build his legal practice. He might never have met his wife. Their children — Christine, Kyle, Roch, Paul, Vance — might not exist.
“I wouldn’t have the blessings I have now,” Aubert said. So in a way, he said, the two abortions may have cleared his path to future happiness.
“That’s an intellectual debate I have with myself,” he said. “I struggle with it.”
In the end, Aubert says his moral objection to abortion always wins. If he could go back in time, he would try to save the babies.
But would his long-ago girlfriends agree? Or might they also consider the abortions a choice that set them on a better path?
Aubert looks startled. “I never really thought about it for the woman,” he says slowly.
Doesn’t that say it all?