Last week, I was sitting down in the second floor lounge of Willets pretending to do homework and talking to a bunch of my dorm mates about complete nonsense. This is a common theme in the public spaces of Willets and perfectly depicts our tuition money hard at work. Somehow as my procrastination continued, the expected nonsensical conversation around me turned from a discussion about Chinese dumplings to the ethics of abortion. How this happened? I have no idea. However, each person in the room was incredibly prepared to give their unique spiel on why they were either pro-choice or pro-life. I sat there and listened to men and women alike argue about the future of abortion legality and the amount of restraints that should be set on the woman. At some point during the bickering I was asked my opinion on the issue. I was asked if I thought abortion was just or fair. Every person in that room looked at me as if I were on the Supreme Court and the final deciding factor on Roe v. Wade. Although my response was disappointing as I wasn’t locked and loaded ready to give my spiel on embryonic development, Planned Parenthood or any other abortion related dilemma. All that I said was, “I’m a man, in this conversation I don’t matter.”
In 1973, the Supreme Court decided that the 14th amendment protected the right of any women to have an abortion. The Roe v. Wade decision was 7-2 as many conservative justices found abortion protected under the rights stated in the constitution; however, since then conservatives all around the United States have protested the decision and fought adamantly against a woman’s right to an abortion. The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, launched the GOP campaign against funding Planned Parenthood. John Cornyn, Senate Majority Whip, helped campaign against all organizations that performed abortions. Richard Mourdock, Treasurer of Indiana, stated that, “pregnancy from rape is something God intended,” harshly affirming his pro-life stance. The common theme of all of these people is that they are men with strong opinions on abortion. Men make up 80% of congress and 66% of the Supreme Court meaning that men have the dominant say on an issue that pertains 100% to women. Why do men have the privilege to decide the future of a woman?
During pregnancy, women have to carry a child for 9 months yielding the normal side effects of headache, nausea, swollen feet, swollen glands, mood swings, and much more. They may become ill and sometimes can lose the baby due to pre birth complications. Normal side effects of abortion for a women include: irregular bleeding, nausea, spotting and mood swings. This is not to mention the emotional impact that getting an abortion can cause. All of these symptoms and sacrifices are taken into account when a woman is deciding whether or not to have an abortion. Men during pregnancy have side effects including: nothing. Men during an abortion yield no physical side effects because they cannot have one. Yet, men are almost unanimously responsible for making decisions on the right of a women to have an abortion. Men do not have the right to divulge themselves in passionate discourse about a decision they will never have to make.
I was raised in household with my two younger brothers, my dad and my beautiful mother. Each day was a blessing as my family taught me life lessons that I will never forget. For example, the first thing that my father said to me when I turned 14 was, “ You’re becoming a man now, you treat women with nothing but respect and if you do otherwise I will be beyond disappointed.” At this point in time, I was ready to just go play football with my friends as I thought he was slandering me for not playing sports with girls at recess. Little did I realize that this lesson formulated my current beliefs on women’s rights. Women cannot be told what to do as that would infringe upon treating them with “nothing but respect.” My ethical concerns on men making decisions about abortion are culminated from this distinction articulated by my father. In my opinion, the men in Congress who speak with such conviction about abortion are failing to respect the women whom these decisions actually affect.
I hope that my father’s lesson will speak to the rest of the male population of the United States as respect for the other half of our species is lacking. Mr. Pence and company, in my opinion, have no right to make decisions on an elective procedure that they will never have to go through. Do women combat men who want to use Viagra or have a Vasectomy? No, they are showing us respect and it is about time that men start allowing women to control their own future and show them that same respect.
As men we do not belong in this conversation.