Abortion advocates need more male votes

NEW YORK “If Donovan Atherbury ever thought about having an abortion as a young man, perhaps with some vague discomfort or memory of the abortion protesters outside the clinic, he would make his way to the park as a child.”

This became real for him in 2013, when his girlfriend, now his wife, became pregnant with their first child together. She had a healthy pregnancy before, his stepdaughter, but this time genetic testing found a deadly chromosomal abnormality in the developing fetus that would likely lead to stillbirth and also likely put her life at risk during childbirth.

“As a man, I didn’t know how to comfort her, how to advise her,” Atterberry, 32, recalled. I said, “If I had to choose, I would choose you.” … It was not a question of whether I believed in abortion or not. At that moment, I thought about her life. “

She chose to terminate the pregnancy and “it changed my whole perspective … on bodily autonomy and things like that,” Atterberry said.


So much so that she now works as the organizer of the New Voices for Reproductive Justice vote, which focuses on the health of black women and girls, with access to abortion among the areas of concern.

“What I’m trying to convey is that it’s a human right to have a choice,” he said.

That Atterberry is a man in support of abortion rights is not uncommon; according to opinion polls, a majority of American men say they support some level of access to abortion. And the story is full of men who have played an active role in supporting abortion, through organizations such as legislators and, in the case of Dr. George Tiller, as abortion providers. Tiller was killed in a church by an anti-abortion extremist in Kansas in 2009.


However, there is room for many more who are willing to talk and be active in the political battles for the availability of abortion, Atterberry said.

Men have always played a huge role in pushing for and introducing restrictions on abortion – as advocates, government officials, and most recently as a judge of the US Supreme Court. Judge Samuel Alito is the author of a draft Supreme Court ruling that will overturn Rowe v. Wade’s 1973 ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion. The project, which expired at a news agency last month, appears to have the support of a majority of the six men sitting in the court of nine.


Women have always been at the forefront of the fight to preserve abortion rights for obvious reasons: they are the ones who give birth and, in so many cases, have the task of caring for children once they are born.

No one is calling for this guide to change, said David Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University who specializes in law and gender.

“Men should not try to control the movement or take leadership positions,” he said. “But being a part of it, supporting, listening and being active is all men can and should do.”

This is what Oren Jacobson is trying to do at Men4Choice, the organization he co-founded in 2015, where the goal is to get men who claim to support abortion rights to talk and do more, such as protests, making it a voting priority. , and especially conversations with other men.

“Everything we do is focused on getting what millions of men really are – who are, in theory, of choice, but completely passive in terms of their voice, energy and time in the fight for abortion rights and access to abortion – to step aside and enter the battle as allies, “he said.


This was not the easiest task.

“Abortion is almost never a conversation in male circles unless it is introduced by someone who is affected by the problem in most cases,” he said. “Not only that, but … you are talking about a highly stigmatized problem in society. You talk about sex and sexuality, you talk about anatomy, and none of these things are things that boys feel particularly comfortable talking about. ”

But it’s something that affects them and the culture in which they live, said Barbara Risman, a professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Sexuality has become so integrated into our lives, whether we are partners or not,” she said. “This is directly related to women’s fertility control – and women do not control fertility in a world where abortion is not legal. … Of course, heterosexual sexual freedom depends on the ability to end an unwanted pregnancy. ”


In addition, a society in which the state has a say in reproductive decisions can lead to one in which the state has control over other decisions that may affect men more directly, Cohen said.

“The abortion law, the precedent for abortion is not just about abortion, but also about controlling intimate details of your life,” he said. “So whether it’s your sex life, your family life, other parts of your personal life, medical care, decisions, they are all wrapped up in abortion law and abortion law and abortion policy,” he said.

Since the Supreme Court project expired, Jacobson said he has seen more men talk about access to abortion and show more interest in his group’s work than in the past few years.

What remains to be seen, he said, “is whether this will catalyze the type of alliance that is needed now, and frankly has been needed for a long time.”

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Abortion advocates need more male votes

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