Perspective: A vasectomy is not necessarily ‘an act of love’ when it’s an alternative to abortion
A theater of chivalry has sprung up around some men advocating for abortion rights
For all of human history irresponsible men have had a deep and abiding interest in consequence-free sex.
When I was in college a young man I knew — a self-described conservative — complained to me that his girlfriend had a poster above her bed that read “My Body, My Choice.” “Distasteful,” he called it. But then he quickly acknowledged, “I can’t complain, though, since it works to my benefit.”
I confess it took me a few beats to understand his meaning, but once I did, well, “distasteful” was not the only word that sprang to mind. The implication of his words was that avoiding the responsibilities of children was in his self-interest.
I see this attitude today in men who champion abortion rights and, in doing so, waive their say in one of the most important decisions of their life. Moreover, this stance deprives some of these men a life-sustaining purpose.
The idea that supporting abortion access is always a selfless act by caring men who are ready to lift up the interests of women is somewhat laughable. In the latest installment of this pretense of chivalry, “men across America,” according to The Washington Post, “are getting vasectomies ‘as an act of love’” because of current and looming abortion restrictions.
It’s not clear how widespread this trend really is. One doctor at the Austin Urology Institute in Texas told the Post that his practice saw a 15% increase in scheduled vasectomies after Texas passed its new restrictions on abortion in September. Apparently before the ban men just relied on their partners to use abortions as birth control. If so, it’s nice to know this legislation is making them take more responsibility for their actions.
Jonathan Stack, a co-founder with Doug Stein of World Vasectomy Day, explained that “the fact we’re not out there fighting every bit as hard (for abortion rights) as women is shameful.” He added, “The quality of life for millions of men will be adversely affected if this right is taken from women.”
Yes, of course, if women cannot access abortion as easily, men will find themselves inconvenienced by the children who result, or perhaps the child support they are forced to pay.
💪Dr. Stein wants to do a vasectomy to those men who are determined 😎. Today we are touring New York at the mobile clinic 🚍 For more info enter https://t.co/1jPQZsGdmC— World Vasectomy Day (@WorldVasDay) November 19, 2021
Happy World Vasectomy Day!#allmencan #wvd2021 #timesquare #worldvasectomyday #vasectomy pic.twitter.com/cb8RpK2ber
The idea behind this campaign suggests that men haven’t been supportive of abortion rights in the past. Proponents of abortion rights like to say that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be free and available everywhere. The implication, apparently, is that men either want to keep women barefoot and pregnant all the time or that abortion doesn’t matter to them because they’re not really the ones left holding the bag — er, baby.
But by turning the decision about whether or not to give birth into simply a choice for an individual woman (and her doctor, never forget about her doctor!), men begin to see their role as more and more ancillary. Their job is to provide some child support and little more. Every once in a while a clever liberal tweets that if conservatives want to restrict abortion rights they should do more to support pregnant women and mothers. And conservatives these days are only too willing to offer government money for that purpose. But they have always tried to hold men responsible for supporting these children.
As it turns out, there is very little gender gap when it comes to attitudes on abortion. The percentage who think abortion should be legal in all cases is 60 among women and 57 among men. This discussion of abortion as a battle of the sexes seems off. Men have just as much interest in access to abortion as women do. Or they used to.
Historically, of course, there was a stigma surrounding unwed motherhood, and families and communities did all they could to hold men responsible for women left in this situation.
Who do you think was holding the shotgun during shotgun weddings?
But today we have lost the sense that everyone has an important role to play in the family. Men who choose to impregnate women but then are not held accountable for supporting those women and children also turn out to be a little lost. These men — the working-class men who are hooked on opioids, lacking education, living on disability benefits and in danger of becoming another death of despair — need a purpose in life.
Children and family used to provide that for many men. But now they don’t.
Turning the decision of whether or not to have a child into one that is entirely a woman’s choice has only added to this problem. A nationwide rush toward vasectomies (as unlikely as that is) may put some control back in the hands of men and may even reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. But the only control men gain will be the kind that further diminishes the possibility of purpose — of raising the next generation.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Deseret News contributor and the author of “No Way to Treat a Child: How the Foster Care System, Family Courts, and Racial Activists Are Wrecking Young Lives.”