This question is not new, but it seems to hang around the abortion debate like a bad smell that refuses to dissipate. Some have coined this the ‘no womb/ no say’ or ‘no uterus/no opinion’ perspective. It’s common to hear, mostly from the pro-choice camp, that abortion is a women’s issue and because men are unable to carry an unborn child or receive an abortion themselves, the topic doesn’t intimately affect them and thus they have no place putting in their two cents. Prominent pro-choice slogans such as, ‘my body, my choice’ tend to imply that women are the only ones involved in the pregnancy and so women, pregnant or not are the only ones who have a qualified opinion on the matter.
This perspective is intellectually inconsistent and when held up to even slight scrutiny, is found ethically wanting.
Recently the NZ Law Commission released a report proposing the reform of New Zealand’s current laws around abortion. Included in this report was the proposed legalisation of full-term abortion, the removal of the requirement for an abortion to be authorised by two GPs, and the removal of abortion from the Crimes Act. The success of this law reform would liberalise abortion to an extent New Zealand has never seen before, alter the ethical landscape of our country, and legalise the murder of multitudes of New Zealanders every year.
Should half of the New Zealand population be denied an opinion on a law that will have a significant effect on New Zealand homes and families, merely because they are not impacted by this law in the most intimate way? What if this kind of attitude was applied to other areas of New Zealand society? Should a stay-at-home mum be prohibited from having an opinion on tax policy just because she isn’t in paid employment? Are non-car owners allowed an opinion on the recent fuel taxes? Should a teetotaller not be allowed to have an opinion on alcohol sales? When this concept of ‘no womb/no say’ is taken to its logical conclusions, it’s idiocy and inconsistency is clear.
Another question that must be asked when considering the ‘no womb/no say’ perspective is, where exactly does this attitude end? If only women have the right to make choices on behalf of a child still in the womb because they’re the one carrying the child in their body, why should this change once the child is born? Should a father’s opinion on his child’s upbringing be nullified because he didn’t carry the child for 9 months and it wasn’t his body that brought the child forth? Where is the dual responsibility in this perspective? It takes a man and a woman to procreate and what the slogan ‘my body, my choice’ forgets is that a woman’s ‘choice’ decides the fate of not only hers but another individual’s child. Men are half of the pregnancy equation and barring them from having a say because they are not the one physically bearing the child is a moral stretch.
Furthermore, because men are half of the pregnancy equation they may not be physically bearing the pregnancy/abortion burden, but they certainly feel the emotional effects of abortion. In a piece published by The Family Coordinator, 3 out of 4 men who had aborted a child said that they ‘had a difficult time with the abortion experience, and that a sizeable minority reported persistent day and night dreams about the child that never was, as well as considerable guilt, remorse and sadness.’
Abortion should be a couple’s issue, but only the woman’s perspective is encouraged and valued in the ‘no womb/no say’ view
Finally, in 2013 two prominent pro-choice organisations, Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), a non-profit founded by famous feminist, Gloria Steinem, and Choice USA launched a campaign called ‘Bro-choice’. Bro-choice aimed at encouraging men to voice their support of the pro-choice movement. The campaign stated that ‘living bro-choice means having the courage to speak out against injustice, even at the risk of being alienated…being a vocal advocate for reproductive justice, and an authentic ally to women.’
This is coming from the same camp that flings offensive vocal slurs at pro-life men while degrading their opinion because abortion is a ‘women’s issue’.
It’s clear that the motivation behind the ‘no womb/no say’ perspective is less about silencing men due to their lack of feminine reproductive organs, and more about using men’s lack of said reproductive organs as an excuse to disqualify the opinions of men who do not fit the pro-choice rhetoric.
This is unacceptable.
Husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, boyfriends, and neighbours are all entitled to an opinion on the justice, law, ethics, and morals of their nation. No ifs, buts, or maybes.
We need brave men who are willing to stand up against the horrors of abortion in New Zealand. Brave men who are willing to use their voices to protect those who don’t have one.
Care Net President Roland C. Warren for the Federalist writes it well, stating ‘Too many men have let this argument [no womb/no say] be the kryptonite that keeps them from getting involved in the pro-life movement as equal partners with women. However, when you really consider the underlying principle of this line of thinking, it quickly becomes clear that it may be a good ‘sound bite,’ but it is clearly not ‘sound logic.’