In early 2015, Men4Choice co-founder, Oren Jacobson, heard a presentation by a national reproductive health care policy expert and what he learned that day shocked him. Coming into the presentation, like most men in America, Oren’s support for reproductive freedom was passive at best. He always identified as pro-choice but thought Roe v. Wade was settled law and this wasn’t really his issue or fight.
After the presentation was over, Oren was certain that most men didn’t fully understand what was at stake; they believed abortion was safely legal and easily accessible. Oren also doubted that most men knew how to engage in this fight as allies and active supporters. He certainly didn’t.
In the summer of 2015, Men4Choice launched in Illinois to educate and organize male allies in the fight for reproductive freedom in support of the leaders of this movement – the women and individuals impacted by the anti-abortion movement’s constant and growing attacks. After successfully training and educating thousands of male allies in Illinois and organizing on the ground to help pass multiple pieces of progressive legislation and expand pro-choice support across the state, Men4Choice began expanding outside of Illinois in 2020.
Most Americans believe that each person should have the freedom to control their own body and reproductive decisions. And yet, we are still losing the fight for reproductive freedom. One major gap in our movement is that we’re not engaging the largest unorganized base of pro-choice supporters in America – men. According to a 2019 Pew Poll, more than 6 in 10 men believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases. This translates to more than 60 million adult men in America who are pro-choice. Unfortunately, these men have largely been silent bystanders in this fight.
We believe there is no way to restore the right to an abortion, and ensure equitable access to that right, if we don’t expand the power of the movement for reproductive freedom. That’s why we must engage and organize the other half of the pro-choice population. Further, we must confront and change the toxic culture responsible for abortion restrictions and bans in the first place, oppressive laws pushed mostly by anti-choice men. Cultures are changed from the inside out. So, if we want to dismantle misogyny, we need well-trained male allies to help create this change.
Our mission is to unconditionally support the women and impacted individuals leading this movement by activating, educating, and mobilizing male allies into the fight to protect and expand reproductive freedom.
We envision and are working towards a future where male allies are actively deconstructing misogyny by transforming the way they think about, speak about, and engage in the fight for reproductive freedom.
Our Guiding Principles
As male allies:
- We will use our voice/privilege/power to fight for reproductive freedom and justice.
- We will listen, be accountable, and grow as partners in this movement.
- We will usher in new resources to support this movement by mobilizing allies into the fight.
- We will enter this fight because of our obligation to build a more just world, not as saviors.
- We will work to change laws and change culture, with an emphasis on understanding how sexism and racism fuel these oppressive laws and the entire anti-abortion movement.
Men4Choice, which is narrowly focused on engaging and organizing young men, trains and mobilizes male allies into the fight for reproductive freedom. The key to our strategy is a youth organizing model supported by a 10-week fellowship program for college-aged men. Through this program, emerging leaders are trained how to be allies and organize their male peers into this movement. The fellowship runs three times per year in “off” years and twice a year in election years. As part of this program, each fellow hosts several educational events to activate male peers in their network and recruit them directly into our organizing pipeline.
Our training and mobilization strategy is supported by our social media and digital communications work. With a following of more than 90,000 people across our various platforms, we use our online reach to educate our target audience on the issue and the right ways for allies to engage. We also use our platforms to change the narrative around abortion rights among men and give them permission to engage more directly in this fight.
This work is all done in support of state-based organizing efforts led by our partners. We mobilize the base we’ve built through our youth organizing and digital engagement efforts and recruit men to show up as volunteers in support of our partners on the ground, thus expanding the power of the movement. With this strategy, we’ve been able to build a narrowly focused, operationally sound, impactful, and scalable model that is ready to meet this moment with the urgency it demands.
Men4Choice is narrowly focused on young men — Gen Z and millennials. While our overall strategy focuses on engaging men under 40, we place specific emphasis on young men between the ages of 18-25. This decision is built on three factors:
- Polling: Polls have demonstrated that young men are more aware of the issues surrounding abortion rights and identify significantly more as pro-choice. This has accelerated since Dobbs, as Tresa Undem (one of the most respected and authoritative pollsters and strategists on abortion) shared, “Dobbs lit a fire among some men of reproductive age – who now look similar to older women on some views related to abortion.”
- Long-term culture change: Our goal is to create a pipeline of allies and a new generation of educated and mobilized men on this issue. It’s much easier to shift perspectives and culture with those who are still developing their views on social justice issues.
- Expanding the movement: Young people who are passionate about an issue are the most dependable volunteers on campaigns. Given our goal to build a broader base to support our partners on the ground, focusing on young people is the most impactful audience for us.
Given the points above, we believe engaging and organizing young men provides the maximum possible short and long-term impact for the movement.
Why Don’t Men Engage
Through thousands of conversations with men who identify as pro-choice, we’ve learned there are four key reasons why they don’t engage:
- Most men don’t understand the harm caused by these laws.
- Most men view this as a women’s issue (and not their issue).
- Most men don’t see an entry point into this movement.
- Most men don’t have a “playbook” on how to engage in this fight.
Every aspect of our strategy is designed to meet each of these challenges:
- All our resources go in-depth on the issue and educate allies about the harm caused to directly impacted folks and explore the ways that cis men have a stake in this fight.
- Our framing helps allies understand this social justice issue as a fight for freedom, power, and control that must include all of us, not just as a “women’s issue.”
- Men4Choice itself, and the men we train, are the entry point or onramp other allies need.
- We give men a “playbook” for what to do, how to do it, and we connect them to people and organizations on the ground with whom they can do this work.
Men4Choice Education & Advocacy
Men4Choice Education, the organization’s 501(c)3 arm, is focused on educating male allies about the reality of the fight for reproductive rights, the harm unjust and oppressive laws are causing, and how they can engage effectively as allies. We use political education, digital campaigns, educational forums, community and peer-to-peer organizing to move men from being passive supporters to informed and active allies in the movement.
Men4Choice Advocacy, the organization’s 501(c)4 arm, is focused on mobilizing male allies into legislative and electoral fights as partners in the movement for reproductive freedom. We use online and offline organizing tactics – such as canvassing, lobbying, voter education – to recruit and train activists in support of local and national partners leading the fight.