Why men don't have a right to choose when it comes to abortion

May 6, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Image: IStock/Getty Images Plus/Royalty-free

Fox News' Dr. Keith Ablow seems to think men should be able to veto women's abortions if they're willing to care for the baby after he/she is born. Yet again, another man who thinks men should have total control over a woman's body if they want it. He's wrong, and he's missing a big point. The reality is, men like this have systematically set up a paradigm that does nothing but prove they simply shouldn't have any ethical or moral right to participating in that decision.

Dangerous views about ownership

Compulsory sexual availability (the belief that a woman owes sex to a man) is a product of the pervasive and often subtle belief that a woman can somehow be owned. Does anyone think it's "romantic" for a woman to ask a man's mother for permission to marry him? Of course not — he doesn't belong to his mother, nor do women belong to their fathers. People don't belong to others, regardless of gender or age (and yes, that includes the one that may be growing in someone's belly).

Pregnancy is a big deal with serious medical, emotional and financial risks. A man isn't somehow "more qualified" to make the decision about whether a woman should become a mother — in fact, he's not qualified at all. When it comes to medical issues, only the individual in question should be making the call.

Men's participation isn't obligatory

It isn't that men aren't an integral part of reproduction, it's that they aren't an integral part of carrying a baby to term (for almost a year). Unless he decides to, he makes zero sacrifices to ensure the baby's health (including time off work) and pays nothing in terms of medical expenses. And he certainly experiences no physical discomfort or risks.

While the court recognizes men's responsibilities to pay their fair share once the baby is born, it has little recourse for making them assist with a woman's medical expenses or her own financial needs during times she can't work, which could be several weeks to months. And there's nothing to change the fact that they suffer no physical or medical consequences. Like it or not, women can and do go through this alone. And men can and do change their minds when being a father starts to inconvenience them.

Womb for rent?

To address Ablow's concern about men wanting to be single fathers directly, they have a system in place for that already. It's called surrogacy, and the going rate for that is around $30,000 in base fees plus medical expenses, additional fees for maternity clothes, extra for invasive medical procedures or a Cesarean section, additional compensation for a multiple birth, a monthly stipend and more, plus any additional fees laid out in the paperwork that might be unique to that person (i.e., compensation for the weeks of unpaid leave she'd have to take, childcare if she already has other kids, etc.). Then there are all the legal fees you'll incur for indemnifying the woman of any financial or parental responsibility. You could be talking upward of $100,000 when all is said and done.

And that's assuming the woman agrees to become your surrogate. She still has to have the option to refuse if money isn't the issue because it's her body. But if you want the baby, get out your wallet.

Deadbeat dads?

Only about 11 percent of dads not paying child support are actually deadbeat dads. But at least another 25 percent can't afford child support (and others don't pay it fully or consistently). That's a minimum 36 percent chance a woman won't receive any or adequate financial assistance with a very expensive proposition. And that's one of the things a woman may consider when deciding whether to abort.

The reality is, people tend to find themselves dating people of a similar socioeconomic status, so if he has no money, she probably doesn't either. I mean, if there were a 36 percent chance you wouldn't get paid if you went to work every day, would you keep that job? I'd imagine you'd have to really want it.

Look, I get that men can't control their financial circumstances, but that doesn't stop the baby from needing things. If you don't pay your half, the mother, her family or the government will have to.

Rape culture

Rape culture doesn't mean that every man is a rapist. It means that rape is common and that sexual violence is normalized and excused by individuals and the media. We live in a society where a woman's dress, motives and sexual history are scrutinized when rape accusations are made. But only one thing determines whether a woman was raped and that's whether or not she consented.

All too often, men (and even some women) trivialize and tolerate sexual harassment and sexual assault. Boys will be boys? Being sexually aggressive isn't an inherent and rightful part of "being a man," and under no circumstance is the victim in any way responsible for the violent crime committed against her.

Even if a man never assaults a woman, he can still be culpable in rape culture. Being part of rape culture is as simple as pressuring a friend to score; making, laughing at or tolerating demeaning sexually explicit or violent jokes; calling a woman a slut who has sex as much as most men would like to; bragging about sexual encounters in a way that demeans your partner; valuing your female friends, colleagues or even celebrities based on physical attributes; sharing or looking at private sexually explicit photos meant for one person's eyes.

Too many men spend too much time teaching their sons to open doors and not enough time making sure rape and consent are a part of "the talk" — that no means no and even that stop means stop. They don't hold their friends accountable or in contempt for participating in rape culture, demeaning women or even for actually committing sexual assault.

Hell, in some states, rapists have a right to see their children (in some cases, even if they were convicted of the rape).

"Bros before hos"

This is a huge problem. Why? Not because you should go to the museum with your girlfriend instead of helping a friend in need, but rather because of the inherent implication that men have emotional value to one another and women are nothing more than a convenient receptacle for bulging penises. Because some men gang up to take sexual advantage of women. Because some men stand idly by when they know a woman is being raped by someone they know in the next room. Allowing friendship or shared male-ness to justify violence is just disgusting — and in some (but too few) states, illegal.

"You knew the risks"

This is perhaps the most flawed reasoning for why women should be forced to keep unwanted pregnancies if the man thinks otherwise. Here's the deal: The man involved knew the risks, too. When you have sex for recreation, you enter into it knowing that not only is pregnancy a potential outcome, but that abortion is legal. A man's "right to choose" ends with his decision about whether or not to have sex — because men have the right and ability to control their own bodies, too.

More on abortion

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The Mamafesto: I am a mom, and I support legal abortion
Dangerous misconceptions about Down syndrome and abortion