My grandfather was one of the ten percent of Polish Jews to survive World War II. As a Jew, I understand in my bones the dehumanizing impact of a government controlling the most fundamental aspects of your life, and that understanding fuels my work as an advocate for reproductive freedom and justice.
Amid the ongoing, decades-long assault on abortion access in this country, with more than 500 new bills proposed across the country this year alone to further restrict, ban, and criminalize abortion, we often focus on the potential impact of these measures but not their cause. The truth is that people responsible for this grim reality are overwhelmingly anti-choice men in Congress and state legislatures, who have used their power in elected office to rob pregnant people of the ability to make their own reproductive decisions.
For decades, women and pregnant people have largely fought the battle to defend reproductive freedom and access to affordable abortion care on their own, while anti-choice men have worked at every step to thwart their efforts. Pro-choice men, on the other hand, who make up the majority of men in the United States, have mostly remained silent and passive on the sidelines. With the Supreme Court preparing to take up a case that poses a direct threat to Roe v. Wade, which could result in at least 24 states moving to quickly to ban and likely criminalize abortion, this deafening silence must end. In order to break the cycle of misogynistic legislation, men who support abortion access must be as vocal in our support for these fundamental rights as anti-choice legislators are in their opposition to them.
Men who support reproductive freedom can start by actively and loudly calling out the BS being perpetuated by anti-choice lawmakers. For example, these lawmakers would love for you to believe that their efforts to restrict abortion is motivated by their interest in the safety of women and families. But the truth is that abortion restrictions do nothing to improve women’s health; in fact, by denying them access to abortion, these politicians are putting people’s health and wellbeing at risk. Research shows that when women are denied abortions, they are more likely to experience financial hardship, stay in abusive relationships, and have lower self-esteem—all of which can further abusive men’s control over their lives.
Men seeking to help protect reproductive freedom must also advocate against proposed legislation that would give us dominion over women and pregnant people and give our government extreme power to control one of their most consequential, personal health care decisions. Take for example two recent bills introduced in Arizona and Tennessee, which make the anti-choice agenda of controlling pregnant people’s lives abundantly clear. In Tennessee, the introduced legislation could give men the power to stop a woman’s decision to get an abortion, through legal action. In Arizona, policymakers introduced a bill that would allow a spouse to sue on behalf of the fetus, in order to stop the person from getting an abortion. Men cannot allow these policies to take effect in our name; we need to make clear that we reject an agenda that seeks to oppress women and pregnant people.
Men who support reproductive freedom can start by actively and loudly calling out the BS being perpetuated by anti-choice lawmakers.
Beyond seeking to block harmful legislation, we also need to ensure that women have the freedom and resources to make the health care decisions that are right for them and access to all necessary reproductive healthcare services, including abortion care. This means advocating for policies like Medicaid expansion and for the repeal harmful federal restrictions like the Hyde Amendment that obstruct abortion access for low-income women.
There’s so much we can do to be part of the solution and advance reproductive freedom for all people. True allyship means no longer dismissing “locker room talk” as harmless. Those ideas objectify women and pave a path to justify controlling their bodies. It means pushing back on men who perpetuate stigmas about abortion. It means understanding that all of us have women in our lives who have had an abortion. It means talking to your friends about this issue. It means knocking on doors, making calls, text-banking, and donating money to support reproductive rights and justice organizations leading this fight, including and especially abortion funds who need our support now more than ever. It means we, as male allies, need to get educated about the dire modern landscape for abortion access and the harmful barriers that block access to care at every step for pregnant people—and we need to raise our voices to oppose these harmful laws. It means joining the next generation of young male-identifying allies to become unwavering and effective partners in the fight to protect and expand reproductive freedom.
Ultimately, we should listen to, trust and support pregnant people who need abortions in making the health care decision that is best for their bodies and their lives. They don’t need our permission, blessing, or input and nobody needs to justify their abortion to us. Anti-choice men are loud and clear on this issue, so it’s time pro-choice men step up and make some noise.
Oren Jacobson is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Men4Choice.
Read More Commentary: ELSEMANARIO.US
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