Men, when was the last time someone sat you down and explained the importance of supporting reproductive rights? My guess is that chat hasn’t happened for most of you, but it seems anti-choice men have had that chat. Despite 46% of men identifying as pro-choice, a lot of anti-choice men in politics (and online) are the loudest, pushing the narrative that they know what’s best for women. This narrative has manifested itself into roughly 344 abortion restriction measures (known as TRAP laws) since 2010, the most since Roe vs. Wade. Put another way, states have passed nearly as many anti-abortion laws over the past five years as in the entire 15 years prior. The GuttMacher Institute offers a powerful visual of this below.
Fueled by President Trump’s victory, 2017 is shaping up to be another record year for anti-choice measures. There have already been 46 anti-choice bills introduced in state Legislators across the country (read about reach one here). On the Federal level, President Trump signed into a law a bill that allows states to withhold federal funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers just this week.
If you believe in women’s access to basic health care services, contraception, and that a woman has the right to choose what is best for her body, we pro-choice men need to play an active role in ensuring that reality. Pro-choice men can’t afford to be silent.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Get Educated
If you’re just now joining the fight, education is essential. The future of reproductive rights is going to be fought in the weeds of technicalities. These anti-abortion laws are all very technical; they are misleading, and they wrongfully masked as protections for women. To catch you up to speed, John Oliver of Last Week Tonight breaks down these laws so it’s easy to understand their absurdity. Watch it.
2. Use social media
Understanding how to address the issue within various communities, and even understanding how this issue affects different communities in different ways, can be a challenge for men. That’s why you have to take it upon yourself to get educated. Often times there other pro-choice groups that aligned with other parts of your identity that already has the language you’re looking to use. For instance, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights might make it easier for a person with a religious background to reach out to their own communities.
From a broader perspective, find and “like” main reproductive rights organizations on social media, like, Planned Parenthood, Personal PAC, Futures Voices Council, NARAL, Midwest Access Coalition, ACLU, along with us at Men4Choice,
Following these organizations is an easy way to start learning about the relevant and important issues happening day-to-day, while also preparing you to act when they call on you to be visible and vocal about specific legislation. That means letting your friends on social know about the latest bill introduced or sharing an article that amplifies women’s voices. This is a great way to show your support alongside women, rather than speaking over women that have been fighting for their reproductive rights for generations.
3. Support Illinois House Bill HB40
Current state law would make abortion illegal in the state of Illinois if abortion becomes a state issue. This bill has support, but not enough to pass. This is a perfect opportunity for pro-choice men to be visible. Visit www.passHB40.com to sign up to phone bank or canvas through April and May. If you can’t volunteer your time, contact your state representative (here) and show your support for the bill. Calling your elected officials can be daunting, just remember to tell them why reproductive rights is important to you and why you think it’s important for the community you live in.
4. Talk to your male friends about reproductive rights
In public life, we need to be a microphone for women’s experiences. Listen to their stories, then amplify them. It doesn’t stop there. While the experience of reproductive healthcare is unique to women, it’s important to empathize with the struggles women go through to access reproductive healthcare. When it comes to hanging our with your buddies, highlight the control being taken away from women. If you want to take it one step further, you can mirror these situations with their own experiences. How would they feel if their partner became pregnant and didn’t want to be? Or, when it comes to hospitals denying women contraceptives, you could ask them how they would feel to be denied an MRI or medication because that hospital didn’t believe you should have it for reasons unrelated to your healthcare. It’s a great way to start a real dialogue.
Women have been fighting to protect their rights for generations. There is a large group of men in this country who are pro-choice; it’s about time men are tangential from our previous hands off approach. We must listen, support women, and educate other men to do the same.