Abortion is supposed to be about women, right? Healthcare for women, women’s rights, and so on? But who truly benefits from abortion? It would not be men, would it? Well, one author seems to think that is just the case in an article that I recently came across called Men Like me Benefit from Sage Abortion Access. In this article, the author presents an unusual and unique argument in favor of abortion, perhaps the most blatantly honest argument for abortion that I think I’ve ever read.
As I begin my comments, I’m very aware that it is quite common for debates about abortion to quickly devolve into childish arguments and name-calling, especially online. But at the end of the day keep in mind I am not an elected official. I do not serve on the supreme court. I have no authority whatsoever. I am just a guy on the internet, and these are just my opinions. Hopefully, you can engage my opinions thoughtfully and logically without feeling threatened or devolving into name-calling, just as I will attempt to do the same towards the ideas presented in this article.
So to begin with, this article presumes that the typical pro-abortion arguments are actually established facts that are not in any way in dispute. It presumes bodily autonomy is a human right, but by bodily autonomy, it specifically means casual uncommitted sex, in that it ignores the causal relationship between the sexual act and pregnancy. It accomplishes this by treating abortion as a valid form of birth control. He says, “I’ve viewed accessible abortion as something my partners and I could reasonably rely on as a last resort. That security has informed my approach to sexual exploration and relationships.” So you see, there is some circular logic at work here. Abortion is a human right because if I did not have access to it, I would have to deal with the consequences of my actions. This creates an alternative reality in which sex does not cause pregnancy so long as abortion is a human right.
In this way, the sexual act can be treated as a recreational activity, what he calls “sexual exploration,” without any long-term meaning or commitment. It is simply just a temporary experience of romance for two consenting adults. What some might simply call hedonism.
But in the interest of keeping this article from getting too long, we will set aside his presumptions for another time, perhaps a future post. Now, let us focus our attention on this
author’s main argument. What I think this author brings to the table, what he does that is new and shockingly honest, is that he argues that it is men, not just women who benefit from abortion. He says, “Men should be honest about the ways we also benefit (from abortion).”
He modifies the poverty argument. Historically it was argued that some women are too poor to have children, so they should first have the opportunity to develop their careers. Then after they have become established they can make the decision whether or not to have children. This author modifies that argument. He applies that argument not to woman in poverty, not even to woman in general. He applies that argument to men, to himself. He says,
This May, I’ll graduate from law school and start my career as a public interest lawyer — a dream come true. At 28, after 10 years of college and multiple graduate schools, in many ways, it feels like my life is just about to begin. It would be a terrible time to have a baby. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve always wanted to have kids. I love the relationship I have with my parents and can’t imagine not getting to experience fatherhood. I think I’d be good at it. That said, I’m not in a relationship. I haven’t built a nest egg. And, frankly, after two years of a global pandemic, I want to eke out and enjoy every last minute of my 20s.
So, the original argument was that abortion was necessary to help women in poverty. But the women in poverty has now become career-minded men; men, not struggling in poverty, but men who want to build “a nest egg.” He says, “I feel I owe it to myself, my future partner and my future children to establish a foundation that allows me to be the best dad I can possibly be. As such, the timing and circumstances matter.”
Many things here jumped out at me. One of those things was the phrase, “I want to enjoy every last minute of my 20s.” This jumped out at me because I remember feeling that way myself. I felt that way when I was 28. I wanted to enjoy every last minute of my 20s. But the funny thing is, ten years later I felt that way again when I was 38. I wanted to enjoy every last minute of my 30s. And now, 50 is getting closer every day. And guess what? I’m feeling that same thing all over again. I want to enjoy every last minute of my 40s. If I could tell this author one thing, I would like to somehow communicate what age has shown me so that perhaps he could avoid making the same mistakes I have made. You see, this article seems to place a huge emphasis on experiences. For example, he says he wants to experience fatherhood. He wants to experience every last minute of his 20’s. He characterizes sex as “sexual exploration.” But these experiences, in this case, the pursuit of wealth, of possessions, of success, of a nest egg, and of pleasure; the pursuit never ends. It does not end when you reach your 30s. It does not end when you reach your 40s. It never ends, because all of us no matter what age we are, we all want to be happy. And inevitably, we pursue these things because, at least to some degree, we believe that they will make us happy.
Here I sit in a room that has most recently been used as a YouTube studio. But this room did not begin life that way. Initially, this was a man cave complete with what was once a state-of-the-art home entertainment system, a wall covered with guitars, and another wall lined with pop culture collectibles. At one time I was so proud of all this stuff. These were my treasures.
But if you were here, if you could see this room, you would laugh at me. Because now, as time has passed, and the TV is outdated, and the guitars are broken, I am in fact surrounded by useless junk; things that when I was in my 20s and 30s, I thought were priceless treasures. I was so proud of this stuff. I worked hard. I held my head high because I owned this stuff. This room was my nest egg.
I believed the argument. I believed building this house and filling it with this stuff
was a form of responsibility that I owed to my children, to give them the most comfortable life
that I could provide for them. But they laugh at my outdated big screen TV while they sit in the other room streaming Disney movies to a little handheld device. I am using this man cave to illustrate one aspect of this nest egg argument, to make the point that I’ve learned, that this argument confuses material wealth or comfort with the value of life in general. If this becomes our measurement of parenthood, that we must wait until we have achieved a certain level of wealth, then the truth is that we will never be ready to be parents, because we will never fulfill all our desires for possessions or for experiences. There will always be one more product to buy. There will always be one more pleasure to experience.
The man cave example is good at illustrating this point because no sooner did I achieve all of this stuff than it all became outdated and needed to be upgraded. The VHS tapes needed to be traded in for DVDs, and then Blu-Rays, then 4K, and now I can ditch all this stuff and subscribe to fifty different streaming services. You see, it never ends. These things are fleeting. They do not last. And we will never achieve this ideal state by which it becomes proper to have children. Perhaps this may explain why millennials who were raised with this ideology,
this pragmatic utilitarianism, are not getting married or having kids because it’s just never the right time. And what we lose are those relationships, those people that we could love, and that could love us. That is the real purpose that we are here; to pass on who we are and to help these little people become who they are supposed to be. It is not to provide them with stuff much less create experiences for ourselves.
This author is brutally honest, by attempting to legitimize without saying it in such crass terms, every college frat boy’s morning after rationalization; “I like sex! It feels good, but I don’t want the responsibilities that necessarily come with it.” He admits it himself in the article
saying, “too often this burden (birth control) falls disproportionately on women.” One wonders why is this the case. Well, by nature, it is women who get pregnant. And they are not so easily able to wash their hands of what was to this author nothing more than sexual exploration, an experience between two consenting adults. The reason marriage exists is so that women are not disproportionally burdened with what is supposed to be a gift, a gift of themselves to men.
I agree with this author in one sense, in that sex is good. But It is not good because It feels good. It’s not good because of the experience. You see that’s what distinguishes us from animals. We do not just do things because they feel good. We do things because they lead to a good end. Their object is good. In this case, sex is a loving act between two people who fully and completely give of themselves. But for this author sex is not the full and complete gift of self. Instead, it is a temporary recreational activity.
What most jumped out at me is this line, “I’ve often relied on my female sexual partners to protect me from unwanted pregnancy.” That line, I’ve relied on women to protect me. It’s obviously backward. This may be a politically unpopular thing to say, but I’m going to say it. This author dances around it, carefully trying to avoid the obvious. But when a woman has sex with a man, she puts herself and her potential children in a very vulnerable position. That is not a religious statement. That is not a statement of morality. It is a demonstrable fact. Marriage is supposed to be her assurance, to some reasonable degree, that this person she is with has the character and integrity to be trusted with her life and with the lives of her potential children. It is him that is supposed to protect her! But this author admits that this abortion culture turns all of this on its head so that the woman must protect the man. She must protect him from the responsibility that naturally flows from his relationship with her.
With that, it seems as though this author is arguing that abortion is not so much about
Women, healthcare, or human rights but more about enabling a society of frat boys to exploit women. It reminds me of something I once read in Richard Weaver’s book Ideas have Consequences. He says,
The spoiled child has not been made to see the relationship between effort and reward. He wants things, but he regards payment as an imposition or as an expression of malice by those who withhold for it. His solution is to abuse those who do not gratify him. He has been exposed so unremittingly to this false interpretation of life that, though we may deplore, we can hardly wonder at the unreasonableness of his demands. He has been given the notion that progress is automatic, and hence he is not prepared to understand impediments; and the right to pursue happiness, he has not unnaturally translated into the right to have happiness, like a right to the franchise.
The truth is that he has never been brought to see what it means to be a man. That man is the product of discipline and tugging that enable him to grow. This concept left the manuals of education with the advent of romanticism. This citizen is now the child of indulgent parents who pamper his appetites and inflate his egotism until he is unfitted for struggle of any kind. (103-104)