The answer is obvious for a gay-prochoice-feminist such as myself. However, it seems like it’s a bit more complicated than that. During last weeks controversial debate in Florida’s house of representatives over a staunch anti-choice ultrasound law, Democratic Representative Janet Long commented to her colleagues to, “Stand down if you don’t have ovaries.” On face, I applaud this comment. I think it’s important to recognize, especially as an arbiter of male-privilege, that women have been marginalized in traditional legal discourse on abortion rights. Not to mention the fact that women are the one’s forced to give birth to an unwanted fetus. However, I find it problematic to assume that men have no responsibility or role in advancing reproductive justice in the United States. Jacob Appel, at The Huffington Post, points to some of the consequences this alienating rhetoric can have for the pro-choice movement.
The underlying premise seems to be that since women are the ones forced to bring unwanted fetuses to term when abortion rights are curtailed, they have a greater stake in the outcome of such debates–and therefore more right to influence policy on the subject. I can sympathize with the frustration that might lead to such an outlook. At the same time, as someone without ovaries who has written and marched for reproductive freedom through my entire professional life, and who has been threatened repeatedly as a result, I fear the ongoing effort to frame the abortion debate primarily in gender terms remains both politically unwise and ethically unsound. Rather than urging men to stand down, abortion-rights advocates should reach out to convince men that they have a deep and equal stake in preserving reproductive choice. [Read more...]