By J. Pepper Bryars
Men are told that they don’t have a legal right or a moral role in the abortion issue. Many believe that it’s not only a woman’s right to choose, but it’s also a woman-only issue to debate.
“No uterus, no right to talk about it,” screamed a women after she kicked over an anti-abortion display earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio. After a profanity-laced tirade where she accused the pro-life demonstrator—a man—of being “misogynist” and “racist,” the woman passionately expressed a standard pro-choice attitude: No men allowed.
Video of the incident went viral, partly due to the woman’s unhinged demeanor. But pro-life supporters will recognize her arguments, and her behavior, as fairly representative of what pro-life men see and hear from many abortion rights supporters.
Do men have a right to talk about abortion? Of course, according to the First Amendment and any reasonable interpretation of the issue’s impact to the whole of society. But do men talk about it enough? Sadly, no.
“Our culture has told men for decades that they have no voice when it comes to abortion,” said Kathy Hall, executive director of Choose Life of North Alabama, a crisis pregnancy center in Huntsville. “Men have bought the lie and for the most part have become silent on the issue. Men do have a voice and have a great influence in whether or not a young woman chooses life for their child.”
Society has given men their politically-correct talking point when faced with an unplanned pregnancy: “It’s her choice and I’ll support whatever she decides.” That way of thinking weakens men who would otherwise want to keep their child, gives an excuse to men who want to abandon their responsibility and ultimately costs the lives of unborn children.
Kirk Walden, author of the pro-life book The Wall: Rebuilding a Culture of Life in America and Ending Abortion as We Know It described counseling a young man at a crisis pregnancy center years ago. As the couple awaited the results of a pregnancy test, Walden asked the man what he would do if the test was positive. He remembered the man shrugging his shoulders and saying, “It’s up to her, I guess. Who cares what I think?”
Who cares? The mother of the unborn child does, according to Susan Baldwin, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center, which operates crisis pregnancy centers in Mobile and Saraland.
“The man has a huge influence in the woman’s decision to choose life,” said Baldwin. “If he is 100-percent for the baby and offers to support their child, then we almost never see the woman choose abortion.”
What if he takes the “I’ll-support-her-decision” line?
“If he says that he doesn’t care what she does, or it’s her decision and he doesn’t want to interfere, she takes that as quite a negative and then the chances are 50-percent,” Baldwin said. “If he wants nothing to do with her or “her” baby . . . then the woman is extremely vulnerable.”
So if men can and should talk, do they know what to say? Sometimes not.
Baldwin said that her counselors and medical staff have observed that men don’t know how to talk to women about pregnancy, birth, their needs as mothers and alternatives such as adoption. Her center’s website shares a list of basic dos-and-don’ts men should know when facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Crisis pregnancy centers across the nation are also responding to the opportunity and the need to educate men by launching fatherhood initiatives. These ministries aim to show fathers how important they are in the decision-making process and how they can grow to become the strong men that their situation requires.
Hall’s center in Huntsville runs one such program called “MENistry,” where a dozen trained men serve as counselors and mentors to men who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. They also offer post-abortion healing to men who have had a child aborted in their past—an untold yet painful part of the overall abortion tragedy.
While men are still on the outskirts of the issue, Walden sees hope. “Today, many fathers facing an unplanned pregnancy are still shrugging their shoulders,” he wrote. “But . . . at pregnancy help centers everywhere, dads are making a comeback.”
J. Pepper Bryars is an author and newspaper columnist who lives in Alabama. You can find him at jpepperbryars.com and his books at amazon.com/author/bryars.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/07/men_have_a_right_and_a_role_in.html, where it was originally printed.