A woman blogging at Thought Catalog under the name “Sophie Martin” has written a post entitled “5 Things Men Are Not Allowed to Have An Opinion On.” I am primarily concerned with number one: Abortion.
Martin advises men that “at no point is it ever your job to walk into a conversation with any woman and tell her that you disagree with her choice. It is not your place to legislate what her choice should be.” Ok, so far so good.
“And it’s ludicrous to make moral judgments on the outcomes of a scenario you will never, ever find yourself in. If you personally find it wrong, and would advise your partner against it if she asked your advice, fine. Enjoy that sentiment, revel in it, and keep it to yourself. Because as someone who will never have to deal with the physical and emotional repercussions of pregnancy and childbirth, your opinion is simply never needed.”
Here’s where I believe her reasoning fails. First, she seems to imply that all men are anti-abortion. Second, she says that men’s opinions about abortion are invalid because they can’t get pregnant and therefore will never have need for an abortion.
While I agree that men who are opposed to abortion should avoid lecturing pregnant women on the topic, I think the writer is wrong in focusing so much on gender.
If a man’s opinion on abortion is invalid because he can’t get pregnant, surely that must apply to all men, including those are pro-choice? Conversely, does the writer mean to imply that a woman’s opinion on abortion is always valid, even if the woman in question is Alabama State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin?
The writer’s premise assumes that ours is a society in which all women support abortion rights and all men are against them, but things are not nearly so simple. Opinion polls have found that general support for abortion rights is just about even among men and women in the United States.
That being the case, why pick on men? If a man and a woman have the same position on abortion, why should the man’s be less valid than the woman’s simply because he lacks a uterus?
It is not a person’s genitalia, but rather their use of reason, that makes their opinion on abortion valid or not. If someone has arrived at their position on abortion via reason and logic, then it shouldn’t matter which set of reproductive organs they possess.
(One could even argue that men may be more objective when it comes to abortion. Since most men have no personal stake in a woman’s right to choose, men who are nevertheless unwaveringly pro-choice, like yours truly, are more likely to be motivated by reason than emotion.)
Regardless, both men and women can have rational opinions on abortion that have nothing to do with their gender. (The most rational opinion of all, of course, is the libertarian one: that a woman owns her body and anything–living or not–that resides within it.)
To simply dismiss men’s opinions about abortion altogether is to ignore the fact that terminating a pregnancy involves a whole host of potential ethical and moral issues that are not present with, for example, women’s periods (one of the writer’s other examples).
Although abortion should be entirely a woman’s choice, to pretend that men have nothing to do with it is ludicrous. After all, a man is at least partly responsible for every pregnancy (or is partly to blame, depending on how you look at it).