Column: Men, it’s time to join the fight for abortion access
Abortion rights protest in Ann Arbor, May 14, 2022 | Angela Demas
I didn’t set out to work in abortion care. In fact, I spent the first half of my career working in college athletics. But after some unexpected twists and turns, I found myself at Planned Parenthood.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned so much about sexual and reproductive health care, and perhaps even more importantly: how to be an effective ally and a better man.
Usually, folks like me aren’t the spokesperson for this kind of thing, and I know that the fight to protect abortion access is not for men to lead. But it is a fight that needs our active and enthusiastic support.
So men, if you support abortion rights, it’s time for you to roll up your sleeves and get involved.
Listen to the women in your life.
If you want to learn more about abortion and how it impacts people’s lives, start by listening.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some really talented and gracious women – coworkers, patients and advocates. And working at a place like this, you hear stories every day about the impact we are having on people’s lives.
Folks who can get pregnant face challenges that men like me will never experience – financial losses, career setbacks, health risks and so much more – which is why it’s urgent that we hear their stories and value their lived experiences.
Help us end abortion stigma.
There’s nothing shameful about abortion, but stigma makes it feel that way.
Stigma tells pregnant people they should feel ashamed for having an abortion. Stigma also leaves people without the support they need because they’re afraid to tell others about their decision, and worse, some people are shunned and isolated from their friends and family when they do open up.
I was talking to a friend recently who said he doesn’t know anyone who’s had an abortion. But considering that at least 1 in 4 women will have an abortion in their lifetime, it’s safe to say that he’s wrong. I explained it to him as kindly as I could: If no one’s told you about their abortion, it’s not because no one you know has had one. It’s because they didn’t feel comfortable sharing with you.
Men need to start talking about abortion more, openly and without shame, so the people in our lives feel safe with us and know they can come to us if and when they need support.
Recognize how lucky you are – and get to work.
Had you asked me 20 years ago whether I support abortion rights, I probably would’ve said, “Sure, but it’s not something I really think about.” Because I didn’t have to.
I now have daughters of my own, but that’s not why I support abortion access. I support abortion access because all people deserve full human rights – and not just because they are someone else’s daughter, sister or wife.
I also know that, as a middle class white guy, there’s power in my social position. I don’t need to speak for or over women, but I know that when I speak directly to my peers, they’re more likely to listen. So I try to use that power for good.
There’s a lot out there right now from men who think they are the experts on reproductive health, but a person’s bodily autonomy is no one’s business but their own.
So don’t be that guy – be better than that. Make abortion rights a priority and encourage your friends and family to do the same, so that all Michiganders have the freedom to live the lives they want and deserve.
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