What Most Men Miss About the Abortion Debate
Things are heating up in the United States, with the possibility of a new Supreme Court justice being chosen to replace the legendary justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to sit on the Supreme Court and decide the fate of American laws that move on passed our various houses of government to the body who has the final say.
With this, fears have been renewed that we could one day live in a world where abortion is no longer a federally protected, constitutionally protected right. Setting aside this discussion for another time, I think it’s wise to revisit the abortion discussion and point out some things that I see men constantly miss about the abortion debate.
To quote MSNBC’s Barbara McQuade on the subject:
Barrett threatens to push the court hard to the right on issues such as health care, gun control and abortion. Giving the court a 6–3 conservative majority, Barrett poses a genuine threat to overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that recognized a woman’s right to an abortion without excessive government restrictions. This isn’t conjecture: Barrett has in the past expressed strong views opposing abortion. As a professor at Notre Dame Law School, she was a member of an anti-abortion group called Faculty for Life. She signed public letters opposing “abortion on demand” and to protect “the unborn.” As a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2017, Barrett has ruled in two cases on reproductive rights, and she has written in favor of laws restricting abortions each time.
In the wake of this discussion heating up again after a sweeping round of pushes to severely limit abortions in conservative states last year, I see a lot of men talking about it and completely ignoring the points of view that women have, in favor of taking what I call a baby-centric view. The women are just incubators for the future life that may or may not be born and survive.
I believe that many men take a baby-centric view of abortion. In this process, they miss out on what exactly pregnancy is and what it’s like for the woman involved. They conveniently ignore the experience of the woman and the threats and discomforts she has to face along the way.
Let’s stop and take a woman-centric view for a second…
Honestly, pregnancy looks like hell. This is something I don’t think enough men spend time considering. We’re so far removed from the experience of pregnancy we just shrug our shoulders and expect women to deal with it, or we write it off as just the natural lottery, the downside of being born a woman.
Stop and think about it for a minute. Pregnancy isn’t just some miraculously joyful thing that happens as women wait comfortably like in some fairy tale until a baby pops out. That’s not the way it works. It’s a long, arduous process whereby a woman’s body is forever radically altered.
Imagine having a hangover for six months straight complete with vomiting, sickness, achy muscles, total fatigue, and more, but not being able to do anything about it…and imagine you’re still expected to work and save money.
When men say, “Just keep the baby,” they’re really condemning a woman to a year (or more) of pain, discomfort, agony, suffering, postpartum depression, and a whole readjustment period that may or may not be successful. After having a baby, a woman’s entire world has completely changed but all the way up until that point is a very, very long time.
During that time, you’re sitting there and going through the motions, you’re tired and sick all the time, you have no idea if the guy whose baby it is is going to stick around and help you out or bail on you at the last minute leaving you stuck with massive expenses and responsibilities, none of which are much cared about or understood by the society around you, your bill collectors, your job, etc. The whole world feels like it’s collapsing.
The emotional toll wreaks havoc on your well-being and your ability to care for yourself in an already hyper-competitive, fierce, uncaring society. You’re just less capable all the way around and the simple tasks that you used to do with ease have no become monumental chores.
You might get fired when you ask for maternity leave to have or care for the baby in its initial months of life. Literally, your entire life and just about every important thing you’ve ever worked for is threatened, jeopardized by the fact that people really don’t care about your newfound limitations, they want productive members of society first, sane, healthy mothers and children second.
During this time, the expenses in medical care in the United States — even with the best of the best insurance — are going to be astronomical. For men, parenthood begins when the baby comes out but for women, it’s long, long before and the debt starts accumulating long before the baby comes out as well.
On average in the United States, the average cost of vaginal delivery is about $30,000, with the average cost of a C-Section being up to $50,000. Most men who are against abortion are not willing to help foot these bills or even do anything about them. Out-of-pocket, new mothers can be expected to pay $4,500 for the delivery alone. Meanwhile, in Finland, delivering a baby will set mothers back a whopping $60 on average.
Remember what I said about living in a society that wants productive members of society first, sane, healthy mothers and children second? Yeah, that. These types of medical bills along are nothing to shake a stick at. In fact, they’d cripple most Americans.
And what about illness? It’s undeniable that many, many mothers get sick during the process, as the body is now sharing its immune system with a baby that’s being made, meaning it’s more susceptible to diseases that it formerly wasn’t. Hypertension, rare and opportunistic infections, constant urinary tract infections, diabetes, weight gain, not to mention, mental health problems, all are things that expecting mothers can expect to face while they wait out the long arduous process that is pregnancy.
All of these things have the ability to cause you long-term harm. Many mothers never get over the full effects of pregnancy.
Meanwhile, the dad is just going on about life as usual. The only long-term consequences he might face are ones enacted by the state if he doesn’t fulfill financial obligations. Is that really fair?
Make no mistake, this is a debate that affects women much, much more than men. We men need to listen more than we speak and a government that overrepresents men shouldn’t make making the decisions it’s trying to make, thanks to a conservative movement hellbent on controlling women’s bodies.
Pregnancy isn’t a joke. It’s something that men conveniently get to walk away from and then have the blind selfish audacity to bitch about maybe having to pay child support at some point down the road.
Meanwhile, women’s bodies and minds are often altered for years, let alone the economic consequences women have to face when guys just up and leave them stuck with a child to care for all by themselves. These are all terrifying prospects and I ask that we try to empathize with them, rather than scolding women for being rightfully worried that they’re living in a society that doesn’t much care about them and their needs.
Having all that said, of course, we shouldn’t take these threats to a woman’s right to choose lightly. We should fight back against them at every turn. We should become men who try to empathize with women, rather than men who attack them and their right to make their own medical choices. We need to get out and vote in order to protect the right of women to choose what to do with their own bodies.