Should men have an opinion about abortion? What happens when a father wants to protect the life of his preborn child? Abortion is often presented as “women’s empowerment.” The attempted argument to support this line is that women have bodily autonomy, the right to determine what happens to their own bodies. According to abortion activists, the fact that women, like all people, have bodily autonomy, means that recognizing the right to life of her child is a violation of the mother’s rights. There are several ways this argument falls short. “Bodily autonomy” does not justify abortion, and this demonstrates two things: 1) men should have an opinion about abortion, and 2) the law should recognize a father’s right to defend his preborn child.
The baby has rights, too
The “bodily autonomy” argument assumes that the child in the womb does not have bodily autonomy of her own. Abortion activists wrongly pit the mother’s rights against the rights of her child. In pregnancy, the rights of the mother and the rights of her child must both be considered. If the child in the womb were not a human being, then the child would not have rights. But science proves that a preborn child is a human being from the moment of conception; therefore, his or her rights must also be considered.
While pregnancy can carry many inconveniences and even health risks for the mother, pregnancy is also a unique phenomenon that is temporary. There is no comparable ethical situation to pregnancy—certainly not the contrived “famous violinist” scenario dreamed up by abortion activists—because pregnancy is unique. Reducing a unique human situation to the mother’s bodily autonomy—the supposed right to terminate her child at any time for any reason in order to exercise her will over her own body—ignores the facts of the situation. During pregnancy, at least two people, each with the right to life, are intimately connected.
Because abortion is a human rights issue and not a “women’s issue,” having a uterus is not a precondition for having an opinion about abortion.
Pro-lifers aren’t trying to “control women”
The claim that pro-lifers are opposed to a mother’s bodily autonomy is a strawman argument because pro-life advocates are not seeking to “control women’s bodies,” as is so often claimed. Secular Pro-Life featured an insightful observation on this point demonstrating that pro-lifers would not and do not oppose legislation that enhances women’s ability to exercise bodily autonomy. On the other hand, pro-abortion groups have repeatedly and vehemently opposed legislation that would recognize the bodily autonomy of a child who survives an attempted abortion.
If a child has been accidentally born alive during a botched abortion, the child is no longer dependent on the mother and his or her continued life and well-being have no bearing on the mother’s bodily autonomy. Yet, abortion groups continue to fight against efforts to protect babies who are born alive during attempted abortions. It’s clear from this that legal abortion is not based on women’s bodily autonomy but is dependent on the dehumanization of the preborn child and on denying the rights of some human beings based on age and ability.
Fatherhood is necessary and important
Another way the “bodily autonomy” argument breaks down is that babies also have fathers. While mothers take on the risks of carrying children and fathers do not, this is not some conspiracy invented by the patriarchy, but a biological fact. As one of the biological parents of the baby, fathers share the responsibility of bringing the child into the world and ensuring that the child is cared for. Along with that responsibility comes the right to advocate for the child.
Sadly, many stories show that fathers often have no recourse to defend their child if the mother unilaterally decides to end a baby’s life in abortion. Even in cases when fathers offer to take sole responsibility for the child at birth, abortion law allows mothers to undergo an elective abortion. Some fathers are left weeping and pleading outside abortion businesses as their children are taken from them. Fathers are crucial to children’s development and a key component of healthy communities. Negating a father’s right to defend his preborn child sends the message that fathers are not necessary, undermining the essential role of fathers in society.
It’s important to note that this argument does not and should not apply to men who create children through rape. Unjust and outdated laws in some states still grant parental rights to men whose children were conceived in rape. Working to correct these deficiencies in the law is an important step to supporting mothers who choose life for their babies conceived in rape. Giving rape survivors support to choose life can be an integral part of healing for many mothers.
Men and abortion
Abortion activists have invented the myth that abortion is about women’s empowerment and bodily autonomy. Ironically, elective abortion was pushed by an elite group of men and has allowed men to avoid responsibility for their children. Debunking the myth that men shouldn’t be pro-life and shouldn’t be able to advocate for their preborn children is a key step to overcoming the lies that have led so many to accept the legal killing of preborn babies.
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