Why Do Men Get Off Easy In The Abortion Debate?

A rhetorically clever piece by one Emily Hauser. The sleight of hand that makes it work is this:

1) She elides all opposition to elective abortion with the particular objection raised by the Catholic Church.

2) She then points out that most of the people she'd folded into the Church's argument don't share the Church's position on non-martial sex. Hypocrites!

Of course, the one group of people who actually do hold the argument she attributes to the whole class -- that birth control is almost as sinful as abortion, and that sex outside of marriage is dangerously sinful -- also hold the position on non-marital sex she denies to members of that class. The Church could not be clearer about its position on sex outside of the institution of marriage. It's against it, if you haven't heard. I assure you that they go to some trouble to convey that message on a regular basis to their membership, men as well as women.

The position they do in fact advocate is not advocated by others because the others don't share the assumptions. Most Americans who oppose elective abortion do so not because they also believe that birth control is sinful. Actually, even most Catholics believe that birth control is OK. The figures are 82% of American Catholics and 89% of Americans generally. So if you asked most Americans why they don't come down hard on men for having non-marital sex if they oppose abortion, they'll answer: "Birth control is readily available and cheap."

By the same token, most Americans are totally OK with the idea of pre-marital sex. The numbers here are not quite as one-sided: 60% of Americans think pre-marital sex is OK. That's still a strong majority.

So the answer to the question about why you don't blame men for having sex outside of marriage is, for many Americans with concerns about elective abortion, that they don't blame anyone for having pre-marital sex. They just think they should use birth control.

It's a strange argument to field in any case. The reason the moral weight of abortion is on women more than men is a product of the fact that the decision to have an abortion has been placed, by our courts, wholly in the woman's hands. One has moral responsibility for one's voluntary actions. No man may take the voluntary action of demanding an abortion. They might still be held to responsibility if they voluntarily advise or assist in the commission of an abortion -- and the Catholic church, by the way, considers such men to have excommunicated themselves from the Church. They are not held to a lighter standard: indeed, they are said to be in some peril of Hell.

No, just because people on Ms. Hauser's side of the argument have largely gotten their way before the courts, the moral responsibility has shifted to those who have the actual choice under the law. Moral responsibility lies on female shoulders because the law places the choice exclusively in female hands.

Should we undertake to blame men for having pre-marital sex "equally" with women in the way Ms. Hauser suggests, by the way, her side of the argument would be up in arms. This practice -- when directed at women -- is called "slut shaming" and is said to be a violation of the human right of self-determination of women. It would be odd indeed to advocate, as a solution to any problem of any sort, an increased effort to violate what you believe to be human rights.

I have no problem saying that men should certainly marry before sex -- or, at least, be in such a relationship that should a baby come along, marriage is an easily imaginable transition that was probably going to happen sooner or later anyway. I think that is wise and appropriate advice. But it is very clear to me that it is a minority opinion, even among many fellow Americans who have good strong reasons to be opposed to elective abortion.


Texan99 said...

I can readily place equal blame on the man and the woman for causing an unplanned pregnancy to begin with. It's a bad, bad thing carelessly to generate a child and then decide you don't want to have anything to do with it. It's an awful thing for the man in such a relationship to let the woman know she's in the ditch on her own, especially if that tips her over the edge towards electing an abortion.

But as you say, in the end, only she decides whether to have the abortion or not, and with choice comes responsibility. It's a bit as though they both got drunk and locked a baby in a hot car in the parking lot. Both guilty? Sure, but the one with a key standing in the parking lot is more responsible for the baby's ultimate fate than the one who's been thrown in jail in the meantime and can't get there before the baby suffocates.

It's such a weird argument: yes, I'm killing this baby, but you drove me to it. I don't see how you even get there unless you cannot take seriously the idea that it's a baby we're talking about. As far as I can tell, practically all arguments over abortion founder on this step: is it a baby or not? Sometimes what we seem to be hearing is, "It's not really fair to call it a baby, because it's not my fault it's there at all."

Ymar Sakar said...

No man may take the voluntary action of demanding an abortion.

That's not what the infiltration of PProfit has shown, since PProfit routinely gets profit from aborting the child of under aged children without parental support, due to rapists and child molestors forcing it on the woman-child.

This abstract argument on television is a smoke screen developed by PProfit's propagandists to delude an already, loosely rooted public.