Over the past few months, this same story has played out over and over again in the media: men confronting an unwanted pregnancy slip their partners abortion drugs and end the pregnancy. You can read it here, here, here, here and here.
These cases all have some interesting things in common: none of the men were married to the women carrying their children and in all the US cases, the men were originally charged with either murder or attempted murder.
Hmmm. So when a man kills an unborn baby it’s murder, but when women kill unborn babies it’s just “a reproductive right”. It’s not a baby anyways, right? Just a clump of annoying cells. A “fetus”.
Except when it’s not.
Abortion: it’s only a baby when she says it is.
My intention today is not to discuss abortion, but rather to look at the idea of “reproductive rights” more carefully. Two high profile media sources have recently featured stories that question whether men actually have any rights when it comes to reproduction. Back in June, Laurie Shrage, a professor of philosophy and women’s studies (!) posed the hypothetical question Is Forced Fatherhood Fair in the New York Times, and Anna March followed that up with an article at Salon demanding that we Make Fatherhood A Man’s Choice!.
It’s heartening to see the conversation turn towards even considering whether parenthood should be voluntary for all adult humans, and I think New Media sources like AVfM can take the credit for that. It certainly has not been feminist media, with their oft-repeated commitment to “equality” that have expressed any interest in equal reproductive rights. Quite the opposite. Websites like Jezebel hilariously trot out the exact same arguments anti-abortion activists use against women to deny men reproductive rights – don’t have sex if you don’t want a baby!
A typical comment goes like this:
IF YOU PUT YOUR PENIS IN A LADY THERE IS A CHANCE YOU MIGHT MAKE A BABY. THERE IS ALWAYS A CHANCE UNLESS YOU GET A VASECTOMY. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TAKE THAT CHANCE, DON’T PUT YOUR PENIS IN A LADY.
Oh really now?
IF YOU ALLOW A PENIS IN YOUR VAGINA THERE IS A CHANCE YOU MIGHT MAKE A BABY. THERE IS ALWAYS A CHANCE YOU MIGHT MAKE A BABY UNLESS YOU GET A TUBAL LIGATION. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TAKE THAT CHANCE, DON’T LET A PENIS IN YOUR VAGINA.
How’s that work for ya, Jez? No abortion, no adoption, no escaping the consequences of sex. Fair is fair, right?
I’ve discussed the lack of reproductive rights for men before and although I suspect I hardly need to spell them out for regular readers of A Voice for Men, there may be some new faces around the club who aren’t familiar with the options that women have, and men don’t, when it comes to unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. Women have three choices when faced with a child they do not want and do not wish to assume legal or financial responsibility for:
1. Women can abort the child before it is born
2. Women can surrender the child for adoption
3. Women can surrender the child under Safe Haven laws and walk away
Men have none of those rights. The Jezebel article spells it out quite clearly:
Boo fucking hoo. At the end of the day, the only thing the government, and society, requires fathers to do is pay money.
Charming. The only thing fathers have to do is pay money. And the accusation that feminism reduces men to mere utilities is unfair because: why again?
What would reproductive rights look like for men?
The right to legal parental surrender, in a time sensitive window (allowing for early abortion if the woman so chooses). Just as no woman can be forced into motherhood against her will, no man should be forced into fatherhood against his.
Legal Parental Surrender. It’s not that hard.
But since we do not in fact have laws that protect the rights of men who wish to choose fatherhood rather than have it shoved down their throats, some men are taking the matter into their own hands, administering abortion-inducing drugs without the knowledge or consent of the pregnant woman.
I think we can simultaneously condemn the practice and comprehend the reasoning behind it: in the absence of reproductive equality, some men will take drastic steps to level the playing field. John Welden, facing a murder charge for making a reproductive choice for someone else, was ultimately convicted of product tampering and mail fraud–and there is something very interesting in that conviction:
I’m no lawyer, but if John and other desperate men like him can be charged, convicted and jailed for fraud and product tampering, is it possible that women who trick their male partners into pregnancy can face the same charges? Is it always illegal to tamper with products and make reproductive choices for other people, or is it only illegal when men do it?
Birth control sabotage is a frighteningly common reproductive strategy that both men and women engage in. Men are generally resoundingly condemned as brutish, controlling, misogynist pigs when they do something as despicable as birth control sabotage, but what about women who play the exact same game? “Forgetting” to take pills? Purchasing ineffective pills? Poking holes in diaphragms and condoms? Oh, there are plenty of strategies to get pregnant without the knowledge or consent of a partner, and ladies don’t hesitate to share those. But really now, you must be thinking, how common is that? Do women really tamper with birth control products for the purposes of getting pregnant without a partner’s consent, or are we just talking about a few outliers?
According to “Jody”, in an interview with Details Magazine, it’s not only common, it’s normal!
Jody (not her real name), a 32-year-old account manager for a major New York ad firm, decided to speed things along with her boyfriend two years ago by getting pregnant without telling him. “It’s not about trapping the guy,” Jody says. “That’s kind of old-fashioned. Yeah, you want him to be into it, but there are other ways to get a guy to commit. If you’re smart and in a good relationship, it’s just about the fact that you want a kid.” Even in her circle of young, urban, and gainfully employed friends, Jody says, this particular brand of subterfuge isn’t exactly condemned the way one might expect. In fact, it’s sort of, well, normal. “I see and hear people talk about it, and I understand. I get it,” she says, “and I don’t even think it’s that manipulative. It’s more like, ‘Hey, the timing is right for me. I got pregnant—oops! Well, it’s here, let’s have it.’ I think that’s more the way it is now than it was back in the day when you had to marry someone before you got pregnant. Marriage doesn’t matter now.”
Why aren’t these women facing criminal charges for making reproductive choices for other people? If men who administer abortion drugs without the knowledge or consent of their partners can be held criminally liable for that action, then why aren’t women who engage in product tampering and fraud (telling someone you are taking birth control pills when you are not) held similarly liable?
Reproductive rights include the right to decide if you will be a parent or not, and they exclude the right to make that choice for anyone else.
As it stands, only women have the right to choose parenthood, and only women have the right to make reproductive choices for other people.
Equality: you’re doing it wrong.
Oh well now, that’s a surprise, right?
Nope. Not when it comes to feminist double standards.
Lots of love,