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*Warning! Strong language ahead.
I don’t have a uterus, but I do have an opinion.
By now, we are all familiar with the near-total ban on abortions signed into law by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. It’s a nuclear-sized attack on Roe v. Wade, attempting to capitalize on the current conservative political landscape. What it isn’t is a law that cares about the lives of those already living.
I’m not going to debate whether abortion should be legal. It already is and has been affirmed many times. I’m also not debating political ideology, as I believe that basic human rights should transcend politics. The fact that equal rights for women is still an issue after all this time is unthinkable. Women make up the heart and soul of our world as much as men do, if not more. We need to be pushing equality forward, not moving backward.
The Alabama law is anti-abortion, but it is not pro-life. There are many children who don’t have good homes and aren’t thriving. Lawmakers in Alabama aren’t advocating for them, or for programs that help families raise children. There’s no movement to get rid of automatic assault rifles that kill too many children each year in our schools. Instead, we measure the political climate and pick and choose which new law can get the maximum political gain. It’s not about lives.
The near-total ban is so extreme—no mercy is shown to victims of rape and incest—that even conservative Republican senators have voiced concerns over it. If you’re going to sign a law in the name of “pro-life,” but show no empathy and compassion toward our fellow humans that are living, I am going to call bullshit.
I understand that people will never agree on abortion, and that’s okay. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions, and to conduct their affairs accordingly. But there is a huge difference between debating the issue and attempting to reverse constitutional law because you don’t like it—especially when that law affords basic human rights for women to choose what happens to their bodies.
While we’re on the subject of pregnancy and women’s bodies, I’ll be the first to admit that men know nothing about pregnancy or delivering a child. In fact, most men want little to do with witnessing the actual birth. It can be a traumatic process for mother and child. It’s painful, there’s a lot of screaming involved, and sometimes we’re a squeamish bunch. Just hand us the baby when it’s over and we’re good.
That doesn’t even consider the nine-month pregnancy that we know nothing about. For us, morning sickness means too much drinking the night before. Our bellies expand over time from too much pizza and beer. Cravings and hormonal changes are foreign. Painful boobs and getting up a thousand times to pee when all you want to do is rest, no thanks.
Because we have no clue, it’s easier for us to detach. We can’t connect to something we’ll never experience. It’s not our fault, it’s just the way it is. But we shouldn’t get to stand back and have opinions about pregnancy and abortion when we have no idea what the fuck we’re talking about.
Many of us will also take the easy way out. Although we are involved in making all unwanted pregnancies happen, we don’t share equally in the responsibilities of that pregnancy or in raising the child. Some will stay and be good fathers. Others might provide financial support, or see the kids on weekends. Some might even schedule it in a way that inconveniences us the least. And sadly, a lot of us will simply walk away, leaving women to deal with the consequences and responsibilities alone.
That’s the reality, yet we feel entitled to tell a woman what she can and can’t do about that pregnancy. I’m not on board with that.
If we were made to share in the consequences and responsibilities of unwanted pregnancies, I’m certain we’d see things differently. Walk away from an unwanted pregnancy and get 99 years in jail. Fall behind on child support? There’s another 99 years. Or maybe we all get forced vasectomies at puberty, reversible at a time when we can prove we are responsible enough to attempt to raise a child. You get the idea.
We would never accept those forced responsibilities, so why would we force women to accept them? It’s hypocritical, and as far from equal rights as you can get.
And after all of that, consider that we’re giving the dead more rights to their bodies than women—no one can take life-saving organs from a dead body without their prior consent. Countless lives can be saved through organ donation, yet we all have the right to choose what happens to our bodies, even after we die. The fact that we’re arguing about women having the same rights as the dead is unforgivable.
This shit needs to stop. We can do better. There are plenty of men who support equal rights for women, and it’s time to speak up, because we can make a difference. I’m trying to teach my son to live in a world where men and women are treated equally. A world where we treat each other respectfully, with empathy and compassion.
We don’t live there yet, and we aren’t going to get there anytime soon if men stay silent. We have a voice—it’s time to use it.
“My own definition of a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.” ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie