Saturday, June 11, 2016

"My body, my choice!": the inadvertent anti-feminism of abortion?

Lately I've been considering the issue of abortion, specifically in how it pertains to the role of the expectant father.

First, though, some disclosure:

Politically, I am pro-choice, whereas in the personal realm I view abortion as the last resort and least desirable option for dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. And even in cases where abortion is deemed the healthiest solution, it is nevertheless cause to grieve.

I shy away from calling myself "pro-life", as it is a loaded term that presumes or implies that those who call themselves "pro-choice" are by default "anti-life" or "pro-murder". Furthermore, particularly in the American context, the self-described "pro-life" movement is populated to a significant extent by "conservative Christians", a demographic for whom the "sanctity of life" doesn't extend to the residents of (the mostly non-white) death row, the civilian "collateral damage" in the oil wars now collectively marketed as the "War on Terror", or the victims of genocides in countries that have no resources worthy of plundering in the name of Western "intervention", namely oil and opium. Converserly, the "tough on crime" agenda only seems to apply to acts committed by the poor and/or non-whites, while turning a blind eye to corporate malfeasance that causes severe economic injury to the greater population, and in turn creates the conditions in which crimes by the poor and/or non-whites occur. I guess it's not "crime" when the perp wears Armani.

I digress.

On the other hand, I consider myself "pro-choice" (politically-speaking) with a deep sense of hesitation, mostly on account of the contingent on that side that chants "My body, my choice!" whenever the issue comes up. While I am absolutely opposed to any person forcing a woman to either terminate a pregnancy or carry it to full term against her will, the "My body, my choice!" mantra unduly excludes the expectant father from the picture as if he has no stake in the situation. Consider the following hypothetical proposition:

If the man who helped you get pregnant has no business trying to dissuade you from terminating the life you have both created, then it follows that he should not be expected nor required to provide any support whatsoever for his child if it is born against his wishes.

If the above statement seems repellant to you (assuming the baby-making sex in question was consensual), then perhaps you should at least reconsider the "My body, my choice!" outlook, and ask yourself if it is undergirded with some sort of self-serving brutality, albeit a brutality with feminist window-dressing.

I would venture that denying a man any valid emotional involvement in the "to terminate, or not to terminate" stage of a pregnancy, and by extension denying him the opportunity to (dare I say it) be in touch with his "feminine aspect", runs counter to any kind of honest feminism, which is to say it may comprise an inadvertently anti-feminist sentiment.

To put it more succinctly, "My body, my choice!" is closer to mere misandry than feminism, and despite any overheated rhetoric you may have encountered, the two are not one and the same. In the same vein, the expectant father of your child trying to discourage you from terminating a pregnancy is not necessarily the same thing as him trying to manhandle your uterus.