Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

24 January 2008

Abortion isn't men's business or is it?

And that my dear readers comes from the headline for a most wonderful column in today's Sun-Times. Connie Schultz states:

Not long after I started writing this column in the fall of 2002, I lost a friend over abortion.


We had discussed countless issues, professional and personal, over the years. We often did not agree, but that just fed a spirited banter.


Then I wrote a few columns that made clear my support for women's reproductive freedom, including the right to abortion.


First, he sent me an e-mail expressing his "disappointment."


Then he sent another insisting that whenever I wrote about abortion, I sounded "angry," a trait he never had associated with me. I assured him that he was mistaking conviction for rage, and maybe we should agree to disagree.


That's when he started forwarding circulated e-mails that included "testimonials" from women who said they deeply regretted their abortions and had emotional scars that would never heal.


When I assured him that studies consistently show that most women who choose abortion do not suffer long-term psychological distress, he accused me of supporting murder. Before long, he was barely speaking to me.


I was sad to lose a friend, sadder still that he felt so compelled -- and entitled -- to lobby against women's reproductive rights.



I can't say that I've ever lost a friend over the abortion debate. I know that I have dear friends who are anti's, heck I even have one that voted for Alan "I'll run for that!" Keyes against Barak Obama. Despite that fact, I still love the big lug. I guess that with my anti friends, we have an unspoken rule to not talk about abortion. I also am admittedly shy to bring it up to new friends.

Even thou I do want a litmus test for my elected officials and the Supremes (as one grad school professor called the Supreme Court), I don't litmus test my friends. Thankfully after awhile I figure out that most of them are my side of the issue. Unfortunately for them, I end up inviting them to the million events I attend and put them on my donation list.

The other part of Schultz's column is about where men fit into the debate. The LA Times covered the idea that men have abortions too. But those men don't want women to have abortions. Last year Courtney E. Martin opened up a huge can of worms when she said that men too have a place in the abortion debate:

The pro-choice movement, and feminists in general, seem to have historically shied away from the difficult but imperative task of involving men in conversations about abortion. It is understandable that the movement has been weary; no hot-button issue brings out more manipulation than this one. But it is time that feminists' commitment to equality, as well as the quality of both women and men's lives, trumps their fear that acknowledging men's hardships will only serve as fodder for pro-life spin doctors. There must be a way to talk about men's perspectives and experiences without compromising women's bodies.

Yet considering how it is often men who are at the front of opposing our freedom to choose (except when it is media friendly to have the Uncle Tom woman opposing reproductive justice), how are we really to include men? Should we include men so that they have a seat at the table? Welcome in the community? Lead our organizations? The Chicago Planned Parenthood's CEO is a man. I love Steve...he's done some awesome things for Chicago women. I know he's a great guy, but the idea that a man is in charge does make me pause. Same thing for Personal PAC, a pro-choice political action committee.

Here we are in Chicago with two awesome, feminist men in charge of women's reproductive justice issues. Admittedly they are far outnumbered by the women who run or lead other groups. But just as NOW is often looked to for feminist issues, Planned Parenthood is the place to go for reproductive justice issues. On one hand, having the men at the table is nice. It's a diversity thing and reassuring that yes, there are kick ass men in the movement. On the other, well, you know.

So here in Chicago, abortion is men's business - Trombley & Cosgrove for abortion rights and the Sche1dler men on the other side. Good, bad...yes and no. But if I'm going to be in this fight for my rights, my daughter's rights, and mi hermanas derechos, I want all the back up possible. If that includes pro-choice men all the better. The anti-men, well they can jump off the new North Avenue bridge.

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