Babyhawk.An interesting side to the abortion debate that eternally rages these days is the men who are affected by it.
There are plenty of sites dedicated to women and abortion, both pro and con, but very few dealing with what men go through.
Before I get to the meat of the matter, I guess I'd better get the obligatory (and tiresome) dsiclaimer out of the way.
I have never had an abortion. In my 20s, while in a rather nasty relationship I did have a false-positive pregnancy test result, and I seriously considered my situation. I most likely would have aborted.
These days, while I find abortion thoroughly abhorrent, I also realise that I'm not the one who will be in the position of considering pregnancy or aborting a child.
There were a couple of snippets in The Aged last week:
Emotional plea from teenager
* Nick Miller
* October 8, 2008
A 19-YEAR-OLD Victorian has made a last-minute plea to MPs voting on the decriminalisation of abortion.
Emma, who asked not to be further identified, spoke out in support of the proposed law, which will force GPs who object to abortion to refer women to a pro-choice GP.
Emma said when she discovered she was pregnant in August she went to a GP clinic in north-western Melbourne.
"I wanted to know what my options were," she said. "He mentioned abortion and listed what occurred in the procedure. Then he told me that abortion was technically killing a child.
"I was very upset by that and asked how dare he say that to me, but he wouldn't talk about it any further. He tried to move on and talk about adoption."
Emma spent another month wracked with guilt, frightened of going to another GP. Eventually she went to the Fertility Control Clinic and had an abortion.
"That GP was responsible for a lot of guilt and shame that I went through," she said. "(Abortion) is distressing enough without other people's opinions clouding your judgement."
It's just plain wrong
RE YOUR article about a doctor withholding an ultrasound showing a foetal abnormality ("Abortion bill's rights 'breach' ", The Age, 6/10). The child was born and died a slow, unpleasant death. If the child had been aborted, the death would have no doubt been just as unpleasant. Are you seriously suggesting that this would have been better? For whom? Not the child.
It is wrong to kill a baby that is unplanned, unwanted, caused by rape or incest, or has a foetal abnormality. Aborting babies for these reasons punishes an innocent party for the mistakes of someone else. There are plenty of couples prepared to adopt and this surely is a better alternative to abortion.
Supporters of this bill talk of abortion being a "women's issue". The unborn victims are most likely close to 50% male. This is as much a "women's issue" as was slavery only a "slave owner's issue" in 19th century US.
An abortion causes the death of a defenceless, vulnerable human being. That is wrong. Your paper consistently ignores, downplays or denies this.David Cutler, Strathmore.
While the girl was offended at being told that abortion is murder, I was more interested in the couple of comments that made it to the pages of the dead tree edition the next day.
Why do so many advocates of abortion, like 19-year-old Emma (Age, 8/10) describe the decision to abort as distressing if they believe it is not killing another person?"Tony Murnane
David Cutler, (Letters, 8/10), when you have a womb, you can do with it what you wish. Until then, realise that it is a woman's choice to do with it as she sees fit. Marc Burton-Walter
It is remarkable that men are not supposed to have an opinion on abortion.
We are told constantly that it is a woman's right to choose, that it is her body, and ultimately she will have to bear the consequences of whatever action she takes.
Well, duh. No shit, sherlock.
What we are rarely told, however, is that men also have a part to play in pregnancy and abortion.
If she carries the baby to term, the man involved will usually have to contribute financially for the next 18 years of his life. At least.
The general response to a man raising his voice in this debate tends to be that of Marc Burton-Walter, and he is told to sit down and shut up. When he can grow his own baby then he is allowed to have a say.
In these days of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity, where is the consideration for men young and old in this attitude?
While there is no question about the ultimate burden for a pregnancy being carried by the woman involved, there seem to be plenty of questions about men's burden.
ie, current wisdom and discourse implies that there is very little effect upon men.
This is far from true, and is something I would prefer to see in the wider arena.
With the brand new decriminalisation of abortion here in Victoria, I have no doubt we will see a whole lot more abortions taking place. After all, it's no longer seen as a criminal offense, it's a woman's choice and her right, after all, and it no longer appears to have much in the way of social stigma attached.
This begs the question of what happens to the third party in an abortion. We know what happens to the baby (or foetus, or clump of cells, you choose what you call it), and we are well aware of women's choices in this instance.
We never seem to hear about the men.
I've not paid a whole lot of attention to the abortion debate recently for a variety of reasons, but I did come across a site dealing with teenage pregnancy and abortion.
Sure, it's a pro-life site, but it's rather progressive in that it has a space for boys to speak of their experiences with teen pregnancy.
Men also feel lost, and guilty and depressed when they lose a child to abortion. It doesn't matter whether they originally wanted the baby or not. It doesn't matter whether they were partnered to the mother or not.
It matters that they also have lost a child, and there is often little room for them to gain some understanding or closure on such a complex occasion in their life.
By the way, just as not all women are affected by abortion, it's also true that not all men are affected, and there are many who are glad it has happened.
That is not the point.
The point is that men also have a voice that is not being heard.
I don't have the any answers to this situation, only more questions:
If a man is willing to take the child and raise it, pay for it and make no further demands on the woman, what about the toll she pays in the pregnancy and how it changes her?
What if she changes her mind and wants the child after all? What room will there be for a father in the child's life now?
What if she hands the child over and then wants it back?
What if there is a legitimate health risk to her just in carrying a baby to term?
These are all valid questions, but again, not exactly what I am addressing at the moment.
I just want to know when men will be allowed to voice their feelings on abortion without having to put up with idiocy like that of people who think like Marc do.
Men know that they don't have the final call, but surely they're entitled to have an opinion.