I am unabashedly pro-life. So was my mom (for which I am grateful!). So is my wife. However, I’m not here to advocate a pro-life position. Not today. I’m here to talk to you about an issue I think has been totally obscured which ties into the abortion debate. First, a few statistics (these are taken from the National Abortion Federation’s website):
- Each year, almost half of all pregnancies in the US are unintended, and almost half of these unplanned pregnancies are ended by abortion (roughly 1.3 million a year).
- 75% of the women who have an abortion are younger than 30, 33% are between the ages of 20 and 24.
- Of the total number of women who chose to have an abortion, 83% are unmarried. And I quote: “Married women are significantly less likely than unmarried women to resolve unintended pregnancies through abortion.”
- A comprehensive study by the Guttmacher Institute in 2004 states that, of the reasons provided by women having an abortion, 74% said having a child would interfere with her education, work, or ability to care for dependents, 73% said she could not afford to have a child at that time, and 48% said she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems.
Given those statistics, I think it’s fair to say that a majority of women electing to have an abortion are young, unmarried, and in a life situation unconducive to raising a family (due to time, relational, or financial constraints). Obviously, many women may have abortions for other reasons, but it’s clear these are at the forefront according to the research.
The legislative problem
Now that you have that picture in your mind, imagine an America where abortion is suddenly made illegal. The legislation no doubt would have its intended effect of lowering the number of abortions performed in this country, but it would do nothing to solve any underlying reasons for why most women have an abortion. Young, unmarried women in difficult life situations who are not ready to start a family would still be in the same boat. No legislation targeted at the abortion issue itself would change that.
Which is why I am now going to ask a simple question which lies at the heart of my essay: where are the men in all of this?
Will the real men please stand up?
Women don’t spontaneously burst into pregnancy. It takes two to tango, as they say. Therefore, when we’re talking about these unplanned pregnancies, men bear an equal share of the responsibility for making a fetus. Men are getting women pregnant, and then what? Well, sure, they’ve been conditioned to step back and allow women to “make a choice” to terminate the pregnancy. But what if many men aren’t doing so out of respect for women’s rights, but because they just don’t give a damn?
Let’s rephrase some statistics here to make my point:
- 33% of the women having an abortion had sex with a man who got a 20-24 year-old pregnant.
- 19% of the women having an abortion had sex with a man/boy who got a teenager (15-19 year old) pregnant.
- 83% of the women having an abortion had sex with a man who was either unmarried himself or didn’t mind sleeping around anyway.
In other words, there are a lot of dudes out there having sex that apparently are either unwilling to deal with the consequences or don’t think it’s their problem. Hey, our birth control didn’t work! Bummer. Hey, I’m still in high school! I can’t be a father. Hey, I just dig chicks, I don’t know anything about babies. Hey, it’s a woman’s choice, right? I mean, she can have the baby and give it up for adoption, or have an abortion, and I’ll respect whatever she does. Hey, we just hooked up, you know. Nothing serious. Nobody’s starting a family here, I mean, c’mon!
I strongly believe that there are a significant percentage of women out there who would make a choice not to have an abortion if the man in their life would actually step up to the plate and be a man. Not to dictate to the women what to do or dominate her decision-making, but to offer strength, support, and ownership of the situation. Here’s what a REAL man should be saying:
I know we weren’t planning to have a baby, and you’re probably thinking about having an abortion. I just want you to know, so you can make a wise decision, that if we do have this baby, I’m going to do whatever it takes to make this work. I’ll find a better job. I’ll work all summer. I’ll quit my sports team and double-down on my other classes so I have more time for you and the baby. I’ll help you research government aid and education resources for new parents. Or maybe we should consider putting the baby up for adoption, even though it’s hard to think about that. Whatever happens, though, I’m committed to you. I know you have a difficult choice to make, and I don’t want to pressure you. But I just want to you know, I’m here for you. Both of you.
Let’s be honest: what young lady wouldn’t be thinking twice about having an abortion if the father of her unborn child took some responsibility here? Men were created to be leaders of the home, according to the Bible, and the sort of leadership it’s talking about is servant leadership. Servant leaders put others’ needs before their own. Servant leaders care about the welfare of others. Servant leaders take responsibility for what happens and don’t pass the buck. Servant leaders look ahead to the future and encourage others to do what is right for the long-term, not the present moment, and then do whatever is necessary to help move things forward.
Men of America, you are simply not doing your job. You’re asleep at the wheel. Flaking out. MIA. AWOL.
Now I fully realize that, yes, it does take two to tango, and women know full well what they’re doing in their sex life. I’m not trying to paint any picture here of victimization. What I am saying, however, is that far too many women, upon finding out they have an unplanned pregnancy, are making a decision to have an abortion because of reasons – real, legitimate reasons – that are inseparably intertwined with the attitude and actions of their man. If he’s a deadbeat, or irresponsible, or flaky, or a playboy, or just plain scared out of his wits at the idea of having a baby (trust me, I understand what that’s like!), then the rationale to chose an abortion as opposed to bringing the baby to term is that much more clear.
If you’re pro-choice but agree with the statement that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, then this issue of too many men going AWOL on women is something you might want to consider further. Maybe abortion isn’t just a women’s rights issue. And if you’re pro-life, you must admit that the impetus behind abortion is not something that will go away simply by enacting legislation. Women have legitimate reasons for considering having an abortion. We need to look at those reasons closely if we’re ever going to make a positive impact on the reduction of abortions in this country.