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.
Over the past couple of months, I had a couple of guy friends ask me how they can tangibly help protect a woman’s right to choose. The question beneath the surface: What role should I be playing and how do I go about doing that? The reality is, that over the past couple of months there are probably quite a few men across the nation that are asking themselves these same questions. While we need more men to be vocal in the fight for women’s reproductive rights, men and groups like Men4Choice are not the leaders of this movement. When Men4Choice was created, we sought input from partner organizations and leaders in this movement, built a diverse all women advisory board, and took lead from their guidance. Our role is to follow, support, and serve. So how does a guy go about doing that?
Here are some quick tips of information before jumping in:
There’s a false dichotomy in this country that if you are religious, you are anti-choice. But this simply isn’t the case for many religious people across the country. Just look at the Religious coalition for Reproductive Choice as starters, and you’ll see that people don’t have to choose between being religious and being pro-choice. No one is better at articulating this argument than Dr. Willie Parker. In 2009, he made the decision to exclusively focus on providing safe abortions to women who need it the most (often women of color and women and poverty in the “Deep South).” In his Book “Life’s Work A Moral Argument for Choice,” Dr. Parker pulls explores his personal and professional past to explain how he believes that that providing abortion servers is the moral thing to do.
There’s never been a more opportune time for someone in Illinois to be proactive in the fight to protect reproductive health care than now. This week, the Illinois General Assembly might pass a bill that would forever protect a woman’s right to choose, as well as allowing people on Medicaid to have abortion procedures covered under their plan. As shocking as it might sound, these protections are currently banned under state law. This means that if Roe were to be overturned, there’s a state law on the books which would make abortion illegal in Illinois. To give you context, the Guttmacher Institute reports some 42,000 abortions were provided in Illinois in 2014 alone.
“It’s time men of the world stand up for the women everywhere and say thanks, we weren’t ready anyway.”
Those are the lines from a satire video out from Throwing Shade’s show on TVLAND and Funny or Die. In the video, you hear from men of all ages thanking the women who decided to have an abortion, because the men either weren’t ready or weren’t suited to be a father. Check out the video below:
While women in states like Texas and even nearby Indiana face sweeping restrictions to their access to health care, Illinois is seen as a relative safe haven. In fact, women from across the Midwest come to our state to seek the medical care they need without intrusive government interference.
Unfortunately, that safety net is now in jeopardy. In fact, if the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, abortion would become immediately illegal in Illinois — without the legislature even acting. Thanks to an anti-choice law pressed by the far right in the early 1970’s, the Illinois criminal code contains a trigger law that would make most forms of birth control, as well as pregnancy termination, illegal. So what happens in Illinois if Roe v. Wade is overturned? Welcome back to 1973.
In November 2010, Tea Party-aligned politicians swept into office at all levels of government under the guise of reducing government influence in our daily lives. That promise was quickly broken by many of those elected, who have since seemed more interested in using the authority of the state to severely limit access to reproductive health services and marginalize the women who make use of them. During the last 6 years, we have actually seen as many anti-choice pieces of legislation adopted by the states as the previous 15 years combined. In 2015, at least one piece of legislation was filed per day that would strip women of their basic rights.
These efforts aren’t simply about preventing abortions, though. They are actually designed to make it harder to access basic health care and contraceptive services. For example, Planned Parenthood’s abortion services make up roughly three percent of the organization’s work, but that hasn’t stopped anti-choice legislators from pushing to defund this vital organization that helps millions across the country receive affordable, critical healthcare.