His Right to Choose

When Jess Prominski asked her new partner his views on abortion in the event of unplanned pregnancy, she was surprised by his answer.

“Abortion”—the context and meaning of this word has been in the media, legislation, and public discourse. Nations and states have discussed, decided on, and revised abortion legislation for decades. And yet, the discussion never seems to end.

Considering much of the anti-choice legislation being raised in the United States right now, and considering who much of this legislation is being raised by, I would normally say something clichéd like “My body, my choice,” or simply “VAGINA,” or  “No uterus? No opinion.” Choice and women’s rights to choose should maintain at the centre of pro/anti-choice debates. But I think discussions about abortion and choice extend beyond “women’s issues” and traditional understandings of feminism.

First, I am a self-identified heterosexual woman and I identify as feminist. I am pro-choice. This has an impact on the way I view pro/anti-choice legislation and abortion. However, while my feminism is about choice, it’s also about inclusion and addressing limitations of supporting rigid gender roles and gender expression.

I was reminded of the consequences of supporting and teaching rigid gender roles when I was talking to my partner about abortion. We are not having sex (defined here as penetrative intercourse) but I am fascinated with people’s responses to abortion and discussions around choice. My partner previously identified to me that he is pro-choice. When I asked him what he would think or do if I got pregnant, I was surprised at his answer. My previous partners indicated they would not only support but would actually prefer me getting an abortion should pregnancy become a reality for us.  However, my current partner indicated that he sees pregnancy and parenthood as a crucial responsibility and does not agree with using abortion as a form of birth control. He said he would do everything he could to encourage me to complete the pregnancy and deliver the baby. When I asked how we could ever afford to take care of a baby, and co-parent a child (we have not been together very long) he said I didn’t have to be involved in the child’s life if I didn’t want to but he would be responsible for his mistake and take care of the child to the best of his abilities.

I suggested the idea of adoption as a solution to my hypothetical pregnancy. He said he would not be okay with adoption and would be responsible for the child he created, even if it’s not the ideal time in his life for parenthood.

I told him that while I would talk to him about it and consider his perspective, the choice to complete or terminate a pregnancy was mine, because the child would be inside of my body. I told him that there is no way I could complete a pregnancy and deliver a child and then say “see ya never” and leave him to parent alone so that’s why I would prefer abortion at this time in my life. He said if I got an abortion, he would never speak to me again. I was shocked … I’ve never had this response before and didn’t know what to say.

Most men are simultaneously taught that they are biologically determined to be sexual and unemotional, safe sex isn’t important, and that they should avoid being dead-beat dads, which is completely illogical given how each of these demands overlap.

For a few weeks, I thought about this conversation and wasn’t sure what I’d do if we did have sex and I got pregnant (maybe this is still why we haven’t had sex). But all of this thinking brought me to thinking about the rigidity of gender roles. I have been noticing limitations for gender expression and roles for women but have not considered how rigid and difficult expectations of gender expression are for men. But men feel pressure too—to be a gentlemanly but unemotional, aggressive, logical, responsible provider and sexual being.

The conversation I had with my partner brought up a tornado of ideas: dead-beat dads, child support, single motherhood, chivalry and gentlemanly gestures, power, responsibility, decision-making, abortion as bad, abortion as murder, rights of the child, aggression and violence, dominance in sex, hard-working, masculinity, etc.

Masculinity is defined extremely rigidly in much of the global community. I believe young men have been taught that they are decision-makers that have power and should make all decisions, even if it is outside of their rights or they do not have the knowledge to do so.  We hear so much in the media about men who are dead-beat dads and men who don’t pay child support, and how bad and devastating single-mother-led-families can be on children. This becomes ingrained in our thoughts and behaviours. And this is where I think my partner was during our discussion about abortion. Most men are simultaneously taught that they are biologically determined to be sexual and unemotional, safe sex isn’t important, and that they should avoid being dead-beat dads, which is completely illogical given how each of these demands overlap. They are supposed to want sex often, whether it is inside of a committed relationship or not, that they should be hard-working, unemotional, dominant in relationships, and that they should at the same time, be responsible fathers if pregnancy becomes a reality. Men receive mixed, confusing, contradictory messages about masculinity similar to those that women receive about femininity, and neither can seem to win.

If men support abortion, they will be perceived as supporting murder and ignoring their “responsibilities.” If they support adoption, they are taking the easy way out and will be called pussies and powerless. If they support a pregnancy and are a responsible father, they are expected to be: (1) a good provider and hard-worker, yet also spend enough time with children to make sure they don’t have the “devastating” impacts of a single-parent-led-family, (2) unemotional but supportive, and (3) dominant leader of the household without controlling every single decision of their children. Expectations for men and definitions of masculinity, especially in terms of parenting and having children, are impossible to fulfill which is why perhaps so many men identify as pro-choice but then if a pregnancy became a reality in their relationships, they struggle to find a solution supported by society and other men and a situation in which they feel comfortable supporting while still feeling “masculine enough.”

I don’t know why my partner and I have not decided it is the right time for us to have sex yet. Some of the hesitation might be because we have not been together long. However, some of it might rely on the fact that we would have some conflict in approaching an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, if we do have sex and I did happen to get pregnant, given his response, I don’t know if I would even tell my partner about my decision to have an abortion. And I know that’s not necessarily fair and not a situation I would like to be involved in, so I’m struggling a little bit. It might just be the way things have gone, but our decision not to have sex is mutual, and I think our conflict about abortion is a contributing factor. Which is hard. We have an intense physical chemistry and I would like to have those intimate moments together. Maybe this is something that will change over time or as we grow more comfortable with each other we would be able to have a different discussion. Or maybe we will end things because of other circumstances and this won’t ever even be an issue. Either way, we are still seeing each other and for the time being, are enjoying the time we spend together, without sex.

 Image of happy human couple dating courtesy of Shutterstock

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About Jessica Prominski

Jessica Prominski has her Bachelor of Arts with High Honours from Carleton University. She double-majored in human rights and law with a minor in sexuality studies and is enrolled in her Master of Arts focusing in Equity Studies. Jessica has been committed to ending violence against women for over 5 years and was involved in her university’s Sexual Assault Support Services office, the Building Prevention for Sexual Violence Youth Network, interned at Ottawa Coalition to End Violence against Women, is the Media Coordinator for Slutwalk Hamilton and works at a women's shelter. She is currently an intern for Hamilton Health Sciences in the Office of Human Rights. Her recent paper, “Real men don’t rape: the sexual politics of anti-rape campaigns” is being published.

Comments

  1. John Schtoll says:

    I have said this to women before, so I will say it to you. In order to understand how it feels to be completely left ouf of the decision process of abortion, try placing yourself in a womans shoes about a 100 years ago where she had no control over her reproductive destiny. For me (a man), i helped create this baby living inside the woman and I believe it is callus to simply ignore the fathers feelings on the whole matter.

    For some it is about having the right to be a parent OR the right NOT to be a parent, for some it is about the right to life of the baby. And imho , those are two completely different things, the right to life of the baby has virtually no solutions that don’t infringe on the mothers rights so you are trading one right (the baby) for another right (the mother) but in the second part the right NOT to be a parent there are a number of solutions that don’t infringe on the rights of the mother.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @John Schtoll – with no access to birth control or female condoms in some geographic areas, lack of education about reproductive rights, or in cases of sexual violence… many women still have no control over their “reproductive destiny”. Though I understand what you’re saying about how frustrating it would be to be left out of the decision process of completing or terminating a pregnancy of one’s partner.

      I never suggested ignoring the father’s feelings on the whole matter. I explained that in my particular situation, whether or not its “right” or “moral”, it would be an internal conflict over whether or not to even tell my partner I was pregnant or going to get an abortion, knowing he would never speak to me again if I did, because of his views on abortion. I would whole-heartedly consider his perspective and advice about continuing or terminating a pregnancy. The reality is that I would obviously have to consider my perspective and what would be best for my life and my body if I’m the one carrying a pregnancy to term and delivering a child, or aborting a fetus.

  2. When I asked how we could ever afford to take care of a baby, and co-parent a child (we have not been together very long) he said I didn’t have to be involved in the child’s life if I didn’t want to but he would be responsible for his mistake and take care of the child to the best of his abilities.
    I think this response is more common among men that people give us credit for. Sure the image of a man facing the responsibilities of being parent are to prop up the dead beat dad (who usually seems to be portrayed as an impoverished man bragging about not being able to afford it or the six figure elite that spends more time on vacations a year that most people make in salary). But what gets easily forgotten (and actively ignored in many cases) is that there are men out there that want to take on the roles of being a parent, even it means he has to go it alone.

    I told him that while I would talk to him about it and consider his perspective, the choice to complete or terminate a pregnancy was mine, because the child would be inside of my body.
    I totally agree with this, both parts. Problem is more people are so quick to get to the latter that they act like so much as hinting to the former is a form “trying to control women’s bodies”.

    If men support abortion, they will be perceived as supporting murder and ignoring their “responsibilities.” If they support adoption, they are taking the easy way out and will be called pussies and powerless. If they support a pregnancy and are a responsible father, they are expected to be: (1) a good provider and hard-worker, yet also spend enough time with children to make sure they don’t have the “devastating” impacts of a single-parent-led-family, (2) unemotional but supportive, and (3) dominant leader of the household without controlling every single decision of their children.
    Also if there is the slightest hint of a given man’s support is different from what a woman says, he is accused of trying to control a woman’s body, regardless of which of these positions he supports. If he supports the pregnancy and is stepping up to be a responsible father there is still the obstacle of his father being heavily dependent on what the mother decides, and I’m not just talking about abortion or giving birth. It’s entirely possible for a woman to give a child up for adoption against the fathers wishes and he has to jump through several loopholes in hopes of getting custody, for a child he is actively trying to take responsibility for. But again, people seem to forget that stuff and just continue blaming men themselves for such things happening.

    But most importantly of all, you were willing to at least hear him out on what he thought. I like that.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @Danny – I agree that some men genuinely want to be fathers just like some women genuinely want to be mothers. I know my partner wanted to be a father. But not yet… so in this particular case, I’m not sure whether he would want to be a father (as the pregnancy was not planned nor was it “the right time” in his words) or he is just feeling he needs to be responsible for an unexpected situation. Either is realistic and commendable – and of course it can be both.

      I agree that it can be a fine line to cross for both parties.. Women who are pro-choice like myself and at this time in my life would likely choose abortion because I know I’m not ready to carry a pregnancy and be a parent are accused of being selfish and not seeing or considering men’s perspectives. Men, like you said, when they disagree with women on decisions post-unplanned pregnancy, they are perceived as trying to control a woman. So it’s a fine line. And the example you provided is completely accurate as well.

      I think if you’re willing to have (potentially) procreative sex, you also have to be willing to talk about the consequences of such behaviour. As fun and amazing and healing as sex can be, it can also lead to contraction of STIs and potentially pregnancy, and I feel, should also be mutually pleasurable which it often isn’t. So discussions between partners are important and should take a priority to being oblivious and having fun.

      • A fine line indeed. I wonder if there is a problem that too many people are willing to disregard the rights of one for the sake of the other in order to save themselves of thinking hard on the subject. It’s a lot easier to just declare the one side has all the rights and the other had better only speak up supportively than actually hearing out both sides (because yes, hearing someone out doesn’t necessarily mean they are in control).

        If I were in such a situation all I would want is to be heard out. I don’t want or expect to have the final say on abortion. But when talking about a decision that has repercussions beyond the next nine months (I think some people forget that there is more to raising a child than a woman’s 9 months of pregnancy) I think it’s totally unfair to expect one party to just stay silent unless they are giving support.

        I recall reading an article a few nights ago about a woman that was talking about how she was so pleased with getting pregnant when her partner specifically was against having another child. Thankfully that story ended with him welcoming the child but if it had gone ugly then I wager there would be a good amount of people that would conveniently. ignore her deception and just chirp, “He should have kept it in his pants”.

  3. “[he said] he would be responsible for his mistake”
    This seemed a little odd seeing that it takes two to tango. Do you know what he thinks the mistake would be? That he wasn’t good enough protection wise? That he had sex in the first place? Its seems a twisted sense of responsibility (he is in part responsible and so are you) lead him to this, not care for the child, potential life, or however you see it.

    • Using a condom is seen as the mans responsibility.

      Although I found this article unfair and bias since pregnancy requires both sides to happen, if the woman makes the decision for the man on either way without discussing it with him Its unfair on him.

      Having a child with a man who doesn’t want or can’t support a child isn’t going to lead to a happy ending and has lead to many dead beat or absent fathers.
      You may say that its up to the woman since it happened in her body, but sex requires two people and pregnancy is impossible without a male donor so its just as unfair to say the choice is entirely a womans then to say its wrong that men feel they should make all the decisions without a womans input.

      Women unfairly expect men to deal with the contraception, if more women took the option of the pill or chip as well as the mans condom less of these problems would happen.You basically have unfair views from both sides, not just men.

      • Jess Prominski says:

        @ Rob – I agree, using a condom is seen as the man’s responsibility. I would argue that this is partially because men are physically wearing the condom. However, I believe it is both partner’s responsibilities to discuss using contraception and what methods they would use and both parties to take an active role in using it.

        I never actually suggested that women should avoid discussing pregnancy decisions. I said they should always be discussed between partners. In my particular case, it seems like a lose-lose for me. Either I feel pressured into continuing a pregnancy for a child I am not ready to deliver or parent. Or I get an abortion and tell him about it and lose him as an important person in my life (we have been best friends for years). Neither of these situations is ideal, I don’t want to lose him and I don’t want to feel pressured. So if an unplanned pregnancy did happen, I don’t know what I would do, and I acknowledged that might be considered unfair.

        I can appreciate your perspective but I don’t think you read the article and my particular situation in depth enough because your comment seems to insinuate things I didn’t actually say.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @JTC – Perhaps he said “our mistake”… so it is possible he was including both of us in the discussion, I can’t remember his exact words, to be honest.

      I think the mistake he was referring to was getting pregnant. Which of course involves having sex in the first place, and usually, failed contraception. We had always agreed on using protection (I am on the BC pill and we would use condoms) in the case that we did have intercourse. So I guess he saw the mistake as either using protection incorrectly or it failing us, or having sex at all and then ignoring the potential consequences. I’m not in his head-space so of course I can’t answer completely.

  4. This is the kind of thing we should be teaching our kids–that unintended pregnancy is a big deal, and to really think about it upfront. As you’ve shown, the complexity is huge, and there are no “easy” answers. We all need to think about what we need for our children, and “to be wanted” should be at the top of the list.

    I do want to add that once the child is born, you and your partner will have conflicts on what is the best way to handle their care. Guaranteed, and it will suck. The saving grace will be that you have no choice but to make something work, and that whatever stage they are in they will always grow out of, taking your conflict with it.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      I agree – comprehensive, realistic sex education should be taught. Kids are going to have sex, sex is fun and good when it’s healthy. But we need to be realistic about teaching youth how to use contraception and what methods are the most effective in order for them to avoid unplanned pregnancies.

      I agree – to be wanted should be a priority for having children. It’s great and commendable if I am a responsible mother and somehow “make it work”, but if there is not a desire to have a child and if I am not ready, I may not be the best parent. I am in no ways suggesting this is the case for everyone. TONS of unplanned pregnancies have resulted in amazing parents and families. However, in my particular case, being ready and genuinely wanting a child is a priority.

      Thanks for the advice on if the pregnancy was completed and we chose to parent a child. Agreed – there will always be conflicts. Which is why I’d rather have these discussions with my partners about parenting and and child-bearing hopefully before the situation arises where we are forced into those roles.

  5. A woman has the choice to opt out of pregnancy, a man does not. It’s that simple. If a woman has the right to give up her parental rights (abortion/adoption) then a man should too.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @James – I agree that men should have the right not to parent. Which I think explains why its so important for people to discuss whether they are ready for child-bearing and parenthood before they make the decision to have sex or to plan starting a family. If more of these discussions happened, perhaps there would be more responsible parents.

      That being said, I know many women (and men) that have had conversations with their partners like I did about what would happen if they got pregnant. They had a plan – they would stay together and raise the child together or co-parent or arrange a custody agreement. And sometimes it’s really easy to say those things and make those commitments when a pregnancy is not a reality, but once it becomes a reality, things change and partners realize they are not ready or can’t afford a child, for example. This is part of the difficulty too, is that people are always able to change their minds when their circumstances change.

  6. Roe Wade says:

    Wow- “We are not having sex (defined here as penetrative intercourse)”, how Clintonesque….
    To my ear that s cruder than “he’s not sticking his dick in me”- but then you are obviously better versed, than I am, on the way this is discussed.
    Jess, that is a compliment. Please, right away, let us agree that there are elements of ageism and sexism in my statement above
    Me, I have some real regrets at having sat dociley by and paid for abortions….
    Or maybe not.
    20 years later and I’m still unsure if I did the right thing- and secure that there was nothing growing behind my navel.
    Discovered, recently, that an acquaintance of mine Fathered a child at 17….
    The mother planned to give the child up for adoption and he successfully fought for sole custody, took the baby to college (crib in the dorm room) and played D1 football……
    He was in his mid20s when he met the woman to whom he is still married, ie the boy was 9…,
    And I’m in awe-
    I’ve known guys who have Navy Crosses, have killed grizzlies with arrows and played professional sports; and they are midgets compared to this Father…..
    Oh and I’ll cop to size ism as well.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @Roe Wade – I thought it was important to define how I was using sex. Some people consider oral and fingering, for example, to be sex. So I wanted to clarify that while my partner and I were “hooking up” or “fooling around”, we were not having intercourse, and therefore, becoming pregnant was not yet a reality for us.

      Thanks for providing examples of amazing fathers. I think sometimes there is so much discussion about deadbeat dads and irresponsible men as fathers, and we forget that there are amazing fathers out there. Which is partially why I think The Good Men Project’s work is so fundamentally important. Obviously this article was just my story and my theory on why some men, like my partner, oppose abortion or are more inclined to say they will take responsibility.

  7. JustAMan says:

    One of the sadder aspects of the situation is that like the man in the OP, most people are socialized to blame the man for a pregnancy that results from consensual intercourse, even if he used a condom. The pregnancy is his fault, or his mistake.

    Condoms in normal use have a 15-17% failure rate. Sure, they’re better than nothing, but given the consequences of condom failure that is a huge failure of modern medicine and research.

    It speaks volumes about the presumption of male fault and the presumed evil of male sexual desire that we have this situation, 50+ years after women got the pill. And it never ceases to amaze me that whenever the subject of adequately funding the research to get even one of the half-dozen likely prospects for safe, effective, reversible methods of male birth control through FDA approval is raised, so many voices instantly shout it down.

    The lack of truly effective, reversible male birth control is a mechanism for controlling men.

    Visit http://www.newmalecontraception.org to learn more about research, contribute to funding, and organize for equal birth control for men.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @ JustAMan – I agree that this is a commonly help belief – that men are responsible. At the same time, in much of my work with young women, I’ve seen young women called stupid for getting pregnant when obviously we all know, it does take two people, in most cases. And I also think sometimes the beliefs we hold about men and women as parents rely on stereotypes or bad stories. There have been so many stories that are permeated with “she wanted to keep him around, so she got pregnant” or “he wanted to keep her in the relationship so he poked holes in the condoms, or didn’t wear a condom” or whatever else, I’m sure you’ve heard some of these things as well. When we hear and then repeat these stories, sometimes we are allowing this to become the mainstream belief about men and women regarding pregnancy, which obviously as you mentioned, is problematic.

      For women, lack of accessible contraception (so much of it is too expensive, illegal, not available in certain geographic areas, etc) limits women’s choices and controls them. Absolutely the lack of male birth control controls men. Anytime you are not providing someone with all of the options, you control what their options are, and perhaps ultimately what their destiny is. Which is a problem.

      Thanks for the link! I’ll make sure to check it out!

  8. Perhaps the same reason I don’t use girlfriend for my partner. She’s not a girl. She’s a woman.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      Yeah, I’ve always found the tendancy for young adults to unconciously infantilise themselves a little disturbing.

    • I’ve never understood why some people have such a problem with calling people girls or boys.
      For a significant portion of my life everyone my age and younger was a boy or a girl, the people older than me were men and women. I pretty much kept that in my subconscious, at least.
      People (mostly) aren’t being demeaning when they use familiar terms for people close to them.
      If you take offense at someone using the words boyfriend or girlfriend, I would suggest lightening up.

      • I suspect most men and women wouldn’t really appreciate being called “boy” or “girl” by someone older. Whether the phrase bothers them is going to depend on the person, I certainly don’t take offense to it, it just sounds weird. Take my comment on context, I was replying to someone who claimed that the use of “partner” was an attempt to support the “gay agenda”. That’s complete rubbish.

      • Peter Houlihan says:

        It’s an issue for me when thirty year old men and women still refer to boys and girls. It’s not so much something I take offense at as I think it’s indicitive of an unhealthy lack of maturity.

    • Janet Dell says:

      Blue Dot on Red Wall Kee

    • Jess Prominski says:

      I couldn’t find the original post where I saw that someone mentioned how my use of the word “partner” was inappropriate so I’m just going to mention it here.

      I am a woman, I am sexually or romantically involved in relationships with men. I am not a girl, and do not date “boys”, like Kee mentioned. Man-friend sounds awkward and would raise questions, but my partner is not my “boyfriend”. Also, in this particular relationship, my partner and I weren’t “dating” or “boyfriend and girlfriend”. We were “seeing each other”. So how exactly do I say that? “The guy I’m seeing and exclusively sexually involved with but not dating” seems like way more words than “partner”. Someone earlier mentioned that they say partner because they mean their life partner. I agree, although we had not been together long, I’ve used this in the past to refer to that as well. I also use partner, yes, to be gender and sexuality inclusive. Why is it everyone’s business what gender identity or sexual orientation myself and my partner are.

      I think if you say parter, or lover, or significant other, or person I’m seeing, all of those are completely logical and preferred (in my opinion) to boyfriend/girlfriend.

      • “The person I am romantically involved and live with” is still my boyfriend.

        I never used “boyfriend”, or “girlfriend” for that matter, in a “just dating” concept. Boyfriend and girlfriend is the status AFTER the relationship is official. Possibly the only status we ever get (as the rate of marriage here is pretty low, people prefer cohabitating).

        It’s not infantilizing.

        Calling platonic friends as girlfriends and boyfriends is a weird thing though. As it implies the sex of those friends is of primary importance…it likely isn’t.

  9. John Anderson says:

    I support bodily autonomy that’s one reason I support a ban on infant MGC. When it comes to reproduction, I wish that society would address the inconsistencies. Why should a person be charged with killing a fetus? They wouldn’t be charged separately with breaking a person’s rib and jaw. It would just be aggravated battery or some such thing. Companies that allow maternity leave should be sued by the EEOC unless they also gave an equal amount of paternity leave or pregnancy should be counted as sick or disability leave. Too many pro-choicers seek to elevate pregnancy when it benefits women and down play it when it doesn’t. I think there should be a consistent approach.

    Society puts limits on a person’s bodily autonomy. In medical emergencies, a person will often not have the right to choose. In this case a woman retrieved the sperm of her dying husband. He was brain dead at the time and couldn’t make the choice.

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=128164&page=1

    I’m opposed to infant circumcision and support a ban on it, but society believes that this person is not entitled to bodily autonomy. I’m also not sure how or whether the right to bodily autonomy is affected in the case of men or boys raped by women. Currently they can’t compel a person to have an abortion or carry the child to term so there is essentially no such thing as reproductive “rights” because they are not universally applied, it’s not a right. It may be a privilege. People can be committed against their will. Their freedom and choices can be curtailed when they have wronged another.

    If and when a fetus becomes another person, how does that impact the bodily autonomy of the mother? What’s the difference in humanity between a child on their birthday and the day before they were born? An infant is still completely dependent on someone for survival. That doesn’t diminish their humanity so how does dependency on a mother’s womb diminish their humanity? Once we start to answer these questions, we can take a consistent approach to the question of abortion.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @John Anderson – I agree with your first statement completely. Often, though, our laws in so many areas don’t make sense and are completely illogical. For example, in some states, legislators are trying to put in place prison sentences for women who miscarry. Miscarriages are mostly completely preventable. And yet we are trying to criminalize miscarriage and therefore, women’s bodies.

      I don’t live in the US, I live in Canada so I’m not entirely sure what you mean by EEOC. However, I think the statement you made about parental leave (which I think is what it should be called rather than maternity or paternity), is absolutely true. I know in Canada, often, women who physically birth a child get longer parental leave than parents who do not birth a child. To me, this mostly makes sense. Your body needs time to recover (especially from a C-section) before you can even start to really get to know your child and spend time with them, which I think is the reason for the increased time for women. Adoptive parents, parents using the services or surrogate mothers, and men, are not perceived as needing the same amount of time off to care for themselves and their new baby.
      I also think as soon as pregnancy is classified as “sick” or “disability” leave – it will cause some issues. When we label things, from that point on we use those labels to refer to things and I know I wouldn’t appreciate my pregnancy being labelled a “sickness” or “disability”, because of the stigma associated with those words.

      I agree that society limits out bodily autonomy. I think bodily autonomy is not at all even in the equation when sexual violence happens, regardless of if its committed by a man or woman. The rapist or assaulter ignores the lack of consent given, and therefore ignores the bodily autonomy of another person when they sexually assault. By making abortion illegal or inaccessible, or unavailable in certain geographic areas, I think socially, we force many women to carry pregnancies to term. I’m sure some women would rather carry a pregnancy to term and give the baby up for adoption rather than use unsafe or illegal methods to abort the fetus. However, of course this is not the case for everyone.

      I totally agree with your questions! Those are really fantastic ways to look at abortion and what the differences and priorities are when we are talking about fetuses and human babies.

  10. Jessica, what a wonderfully honest article. I commend you for talking about these things with your boyfriends (I wonder how many women actually do) and being so responsible to even hold off on sex knowing the information you do that lingers still between you and your boyfriend. I have never asked a boyfriend how he would feel about me having an abortion but I think I am going to have to start including that in my own conversations with future boyfriends. It’s just a really responsible question. And though I wrestled with this question myself privately, I think I was always a little afraid to ask past boyfriends because I was afraid of giving license to someone else over my own body. I don’t want to give someone that amount of power and license over my own body even when it’s the father of the potential baby. But it is his baby too and he deserves the right to have a choice too. I just don’t know where that fits with the reality that I am the one that is going to have to grow that baby inside me.

    I don’t know what the answer is. Ultimately, it is my body. It’s hard to comfortably give that much choice to someone else over it. Even someone I decided to be intimate with. But I know that us having this conversation is a good thing even if it’s hard to draw that line of “choice”.

    • John Anderson says:

      “I don’t know what the answer is. Ultimately, it is my body. It’s hard to comfortably give that much choice to someone else over it. Even someone I decided to be intimate with”

      You’re not necessarily giving him that control. You’re just telling him what your choice would be and it’s his choice whether he wants to engage in sexual activity with you knowing what to expect in the event of a pregnancy. Are you afraid that you would change your mind and are somehow misleading him? If that’s the case, why bother having the conversation? Are you basing your decision on his perceived suitability as a father or how much child support he’s likely to be able to afford? Those are things you can discuss, but it might cost you a boyfriend.

      If you don’t know where you stand, you can always tell him that. At least he’ll know he’s taking a risk that he’ll be disappointed in your decision.

      • Proposal:

        Legally recognize duly recorded statements made by a woman that “if I become pregnant from your sperm, I will abort, if it is medically feasible to do so and you pay for half of it”. Carrying the child to term, in the absence of medical reason not to have an abortion, results in no net child support obligation for the man.

        No net child support obligation could/probably should entail repayment of child support payments after the child reaches majority under the schedule which they were paid, with the obligation to repay being a child support obligation under the law.

        Toss in a presumption of such a declaration being made in woman rapes man cases (including statutory) and I’d say that you have about the most gender-egalitarian structure practical.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @ Erin – Thanks so much! I would definitely encourage you to talk to your sexual or romantic partners about pregnancy and abortion. While these conversations can be uncomfortable, I always think “Do i really want to be with someone, or having sex with someone, that I can’t even talk to about fundamental life choices?”. So thats what motivates me to have these discussions.

      I don’t think by having the discussion you are giving someone control over your body. I think you are letting them into your thought process and your heart, which is something I advocate for people romantically or sexually involved. I mean, you can ultimately make a decision about pregnancy without him even knowing… which means men actually often have zero control over women’s bodies in terms of abortion. That being said, I completely understand that it is a difficult conflict to navigate. Like I mentioned, my partner said if I got an abortion, he would never talk to me again. Which would break my heart. At the same time, he said if I got pregnant and I told him, he would do everything he could to convince me to change my mind, and I really believe that. And that’s scary too – when someone you love tries to persuade you of something with everything they have – that you might give in, is a scary thought.

      @John Anderson – I completely agree with your statement “You’re not necessarily giving him that control. You’re just telling him what your choice would be and it’s his choice whether he wants to engage in sexual activity with you knowing what to expect in the event of a pregnancy”.

  11. Your stance that homosexuality does not exist is very ignorant. I am a christian and I still believe that people have the right to be homosexuals. As for the feminist comments, I don’t know what to think on that other than the fact that feminism is a very good thing for America.

  12. Random_Stranger says:

    “…the choice to complete or terminate a pregnancy was mine, because the child would be inside of my body. I told him that there is no way I could complete a pregnancy and deliver a child and then say “see ya never” and leave him to parent alone so that’s why I would prefer abortion at this time in my life”

    I find this position really challenging. A women’s right to choose is predicated on the idea that she has a right to privacy over her body and cannot be obliged to carry a pregnancy to term. It does not, however, extend to a right to financial or personal liberty at the expense of parental responsibility. The author appears to be conflating her right to choose owing from the risks and burdens of pregnancy with the financial and personal burdens required of motherhood. If true, she’s advocating for a privilege her male partner will never have. Her partner can choose to have sex or not, after that he has ceded any right to choose parental responsibility -he will be held financially, legally and socially responsible for any resulting pregnancy.

    • Jess Prominski says:

      @Randon_Stranger – I’m not exactly sure what you’re trying to say. Could you elaborate?

      • Random_Stranger says:

        Sure…here’s what I’m saying

        In theory: either party can choose to decline sex -> she can choose to decline a pregnancy -> neither party can unilaterally choose to decline parental responsibility.

        In practice: either party can choose to decline sex -> she can choose to decline a pregnancy -> she can unilaterally choose to decline or oblige parental responsibility for both parties.

        Assuming we consistently apply the equal protection clause, we expect mothers and fathers to take financial and legal responsibility for their offspring. However, Roe v Wade respects that a woman has the right to carry or terminate a pregnancy as a matter of her right to privacy. So taken together, what the law is asking us to do is to grant a women agency over her body to carry or terminate a pregnancy while expecting that she will exercise that decision independent and without consideration to the costs and burdens of parental responsibility; a responsibility of which our society does not otherwise grant a waiver.

        Said another way,
        We have many dead-beat dads because these men took a chance on sex, received an adverse outcome and have no further recourse. We have few dead-beat moms because these women can unilaterally terminate the pregnancy under a right to privacy when her decision is actually predicated on avoiding parental responsibility.

        While this has always been an implicit reality (and a main criticism of the pro-lfe movement) its troubling to hear someone declare a right to an abortion as a deliberation of the risks and rewards post pregnancy.

        • John Anderson says:

          “neither party can unilaterally choose to decline parental responsibility.”

          Maybe in theory, but as far as I know, there is no requirement to establish paternity prior to an adoption taking place. I know of no instances where a father’s consent is required for an adoption. If he doesn’t oppose in a specific amount of time, the adoption goes forward. Sometimes his rights aren’t recognized unless he registers in a putative father’s registry. That doesn’t even touch upon safe haven laws where an individual (usually the mother) can legally abandon her child.

          • Random_Stranger says:

            @John,
            Agreed, see the comment on “in practice”. But you raise the interesting point that a would-be dead-beat mom can decide to carry a pregnancy to term and then still have the option to unilaterally abandon the child on behalf of both parents.

            I’d hazard to guess that the rise of a mother’s explicit post pregnancy option to abandon a child unilaterally is a realization that roe v wade has granted her this option implicitly anyway. By giving her an explicit option (like safe havens), we’re presumably hoping to see a reduction in abortions.

  13. Why do you jump to the conclusion that the reason your partner would want to keep his child is because how the media talks about dead-beat dads and single mothers? Most men want children. Indeed, most people want children. Is it really so hard to believe that your partner would want to keep his child because he would feel an intrinsic bond with his child or because he wants to eventually become a father?

    You seem to reach your conclusion by pole vaulting over the obvious in order to force-fit it into your predetermined feminist explanation. Is it not possible that feminist ideology simply does not factor in the concept that men would actually want children and have just as much a right to have and raise their child as any woman?

    Do not blame masculinity as the source of the “problem” because there is no problem, at least not with your partner.

  14. “Masculinity is defined extremely rigidly in much of the global community. I believe young men have been taught that they are decision-makers that have power and should make all decisions, even if it is outside of their rights or they do not have the knowledge to do so.”

    Your entire argument invalidates this statement. It is politically incorrect to even consider giving men any control or decision-making at all in this area. In fact, they have none. The worst a man could do if he didn’t want an abortion and she went ahead and got one anyway is to never speak to her again, which amounts to nothing. She can go on with her life with no ill effect.

    People are not going to agree on this issue. Which is why, IMO, they should not procreate with someone with whom they disagree. However, if they choose to, BOTH should have the choice to NOT become parents before they wish to. Men should be given the choice to opt out of parenthood during the pregnancy. The woman can still choose what she wants to do, abort, adopt, or be a single parent. It’s still totally up to her. She can have a boyfriend or husband (should she marry) adopt the child if she chooses. So, she doesn’t have to be a single parent if she doesn’t want to. All the power is still in her hands.

    Women are seldom forced into parenthood because they can abort, whereas men are frequently forced into parenthood (stripped of reproductive choice) and then called dead beat dads when they, in fact, are not ready to be parents and don’t change their minds.

    Bottom line: anyone who does not support choice to not become parents for men as well as women is ANTI-choice. Until that is fixed, women have nothing to complain about.

  15. If my partner had an abortion without me knowing, that could very well be a dealbreaker. It may be her body but we’re in a relationship together, there has to be trust there.

    I am all for financial abortion, I think men should have the right to opt out of parenthood (and women should too). If my partner didn’t respect my wishes for children, I think that would be a dealbreaker as well. I can’t force her and never would force her to have an abortion, but I would resent my wishes of not wanting children being ignored. It’s not just her life at stake, it’s mine too, I will have social, financial, and moral obligations to the child.

    Quite frankly I don’t think I could fully trust a partner who wouldn’t abort if I didn’t want a child. It’s a choice we both should be making, if she wants a child then she can raise it herself, find someone else, or wait until I am at a stage in life I can mentally, physically, and financially cope with it. I’d never force her to raise my child if our genders were swapped.

    I’ll never pressure a woman into continuing a pregnancy, but I may ask her to have an abortion and hope she does if I am not ready. I’ll do my best to ensure safe sex, will consider a vasectomy as long as I have some spermies stored away to hopefully have kids one day.

    The thought of getting a woman pregnant scares the shit out of me because I don’t have a healthy bank account and my health isn’t great atm. I’d make a shit dad now, but 5,10 years down the track I may be a great dad who can afford to give them a fulfilling life.

  16. The fact that he said he wouldn’t speak to you again if you chose to have an abortion makes me suspect only one thing.

    He thinks you place the life of a human being above your own freedom. But that’s just me.

  17. I think the term used to label a romantic relationship is very much the couple’s choice. My girlfriend likes calling me her “boyfriend” though I would not have considered using the term myself. We’re both well past the age of legal adulthood. Then again we’re not partners, so our vocabulary is limited, at least in English.

    Separately, Ms Prominski I hope you’re never forced into a situation where you have to make this choice but that if you are then you will be honest with your partner about a pregnancy. My personal belief is that a deception that significant would be harmful to any relationship – more harmful than honesty, though I recognize that would also be a painful path.

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