Anti-abortion supporters have long stated that men that help create pregnancies should have a say in pregnancy decisions, usually alongside the old saying about sex “It takes two to tango”. More specifically, that those men should have the say in a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
Men are already given special treatment in the anti-abortion movement. They’re not told to keep their dick behind a closed pants zipper while holding an aspirin between their knees. Rarely are they shamed for having premarital sex and/or having sex when they weren’t ready to bear the responsibility of child-rearing and certainly never in the same capacity as women are. A man is given even more special treatment when he doesn’t want the woman he got pregnant to have an abortion while the woman’s wish to terminate an unwanted pregnancy becomes even more irrelevant to the anti-abortion movement than it already is. In order to drive the idea that men should have a say in pregnancy options, these men are made to be anti-abortion martyrs through things like memes that say “Her ‘choice’ was my child”, protest signs that say “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood”, and emotionally charged videos of men pleading outside of abortion clinics to the women they got pregnant not to abort her pregnancies.
But how much does the anti-abortion movement truly believe that men should have a say in abortion decisions?
George Takei’s Facebook page posted a story regarding a situation where the husband wanted to have a say in his wife’s abortion. In a now deleted Reddit post, a woman asked for advice:
“I have no idea what to do. I found out our baby’s gender today, and I had to beg my husband to come to my ultrasound. He didn’t want to but he gave in and said he would come. I knew he wanted a son so I worried he’d be upset but I didn’t think something like this would happen. As soon as the doctor said it was a girl, my husband’s whole demeanor changed. And he just went silent. And then he made me leave my appointment early. I tried to object but he grabbed by arm really hard and told me we were going home. I had to lie about why I was leaving. In the car, he was very agitated and I asked him why and he told me he doesn’t want a girl so I’ll get an abortion and well try again for a boy. I told him I’m not going to do that and he said “Yeah okay we’ll see.” I told him he can’t force me and he told me “you have two options honey you can have your girl and get pregnant again right after and pray that it’s a boy or you can do it the easy way and get an abortion right now.” I just started to cry and he shushed me and kept squeezing my thigh painfully tight. He’s been in a bad mood all night since but we haven’t talked anymore about it. I know this all sounds crazy and I know that it is but I’m just lost on what to do. I don’t know why he would put me in this position. I can only hope that he calms down and lets it go but I don’t think that will happen. My friends would never understand and I just can’t bring myself to talk to my father or brothers about this. I don’t know what I should be doing.”
George Takei’s Facebook has its fair share of conservative minded users that are quick to speak their opinion. Yet there didn’t seem to be a single comment rushing to the defense of the husband to demand his rights in pregnancy option-based decisions and how men should have an equal say.
Perhaps this is because the now-deleted Reddit post paints a perfect picture of something both anti-abortion and pro-choice supporters are against: coerced/forced abortion. Googling “forced abortion” or “coerced abortion” will yield some results from anti-abortion organizations relating to stories of women who were forced to have abortions. Heartbeat International, one of the biggest networks of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, has reading material available for sale called “Preventing Forced Abortion”. The man in charge of the protest at the now-closed Essential Health Clinic of Black River Falls claimed that he would protest abortion clinics and see women being dragged inside against their will.
The “rights of the father” is only relevant to the anti-abortion movement only when a specific situation has arisen. It’s like how some arrogant heterosexuals insist on Straight Pride parades, but only during the month of June when confronted with LGBTQ+ people and rainbow flags. Like the idea of Straight Pride, this idea that men should have the say in pregnancy option decisions is brought up to invalidate a specific group of people—in this case, women who want an abortion while the men that got them pregnant does not.
But if a man wanted an abortion against the woman’s wishes, the anti-abortion movement is silent until they need to lament about instances where those same women were dragged to abortion clinics unwillingly by the same men that wanted the say in whether or not they have an abortion. When the woman wants to carry a pregnancy to term like the anti-abortion movement wants, it’s not about what the man wants. It’s one of the few times the anti-abortion movement agrees that women should make their own decisions regarding their own pregnancies without interference from other people.
Yes, coerced abortion is most definitely wrong. However, its a bit hypocritical to campaign for men having equal say or even the say in abortion decisions in order to force women into options they do not want, but then turn around to say forcing women into options they do not want is wrong when the woman is being coerced into having an abortion against her will.