Yes, Abortion Is a Women’s Issue, and Yes, More Male Allies Are Welcome
Further, sexist assumptions about women’s role in reproduction are at the core of other oppressions women face. Rape culture is intertwined with ideas that men are irresistibly driven to sex, that women are submissive sexual objects to be conquered, that women are either sluts or prudes. Lack of family supports in the workplace, from paid sick days to paid family leave, are tied with exclusionary and outdated middle-class white assumptions that there will be a woman in the home to take care of the family, and discrimination in pay, promotion, and leadership is underpinned by assumptions that men are primary breadwinners. Pretending that social discrimination against women is not linked with sexual discrimination against women, which can therefore be ignored, may feel “less controversial” but it’s not going to get us anywhere.
When men are quoted in the media five times more often than women on the topics of abortion and birth control, we are simply not ready to move abortion into a post-gender framework that declares abortion is “not a women’s issue.” In particular, it seems that society has a great deal of resistance to putting younger women and women of color, not mutually exclusive categories, at the center of reproductive rights conversations.
While we need more men, more LGBTQ people, and more of everyone taking leadership in the reproductive rights movement, those most directly affected by abortion restrictions—younger women and women of color—need more focus, not less. Turn on the television, and it’s not uncommon to see a white man opposing abortion rights and, if a pro-choice woman is included at all, she is often white and past reproductive age.
Within the abortion rights movement, there is some resistance to having the most directly affected lead the message in a way that doesn’t seem to be paralleled in other human rights movements, including LGBTQ movements and civil rights movements. Some take offense when it is suggested that more younger women and women of color should help lead. This is something that I hope men will keep in mind when taking on leadership roles in the movement. It is possible to be a loud ally and also be an ally who works to ensure more young women and women of color are included, and your sisters need the help.
Do we need more men to fight for reproductive and sexual rights on their own terms? Do we welcome more men to fight for abortion as human rights issues, public health issues, and women’s issues? Is it cool if those men want to call themselves “bro-choice”? The answer is an enthusiastic yes.
In New Interview, Gabriel Gomez Again Does Not Clarify Views on Reproductive Rights
On the failed Blunt Amendment of 2012 that would have allowed secular employers to exclude contraception and other services covered by third-party health insurance plans to employees and dependents, Gomez told the Globe, “Honestly, I haven’t read the Blunt Amendment, so it’s hard for me to go yea or nay without reading the full Blunt Amendment. That’s part of the reason why these guys and women down there should read these whole things. … I’m happy to look at it.”
When further questioned, he said, “Oh, is this like the Catholic Church and all? Yeah, I don’t believe the Catholic Church—or any faith, any organization like that—should have to do something that goes against their doctrine.”
The Blunt Amendment went far beyond allowing religious or religiously affiliated institutions to refuse contraceptive coverage, for which the Obama administration has repeatedly crafted exclusions and compromises regarding third-party health insurance plans used by their employees and dependents. The Blunt Amendment would have made into law the opinion of, among others, the general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Anthony Picarello, who last year suggested that even if he were running a Taco Bell he should be legally empowered to stop employees from accessing contraception without a co-pay.