Tue | Jun 18, 2019

Michael Abrahams | Men’s opinions on abortion

Published:Monday | May 20, 2019 | 12:18 AM

If men did not exist, there would be no abortions. Pregnancies do not just occur magically. In order for conception to take place, sperm and egg must meet. The egg comes from a woman, and the sperm from a man. No man, no sperm. No sperm, no pregnancy. It is as simple as that.

Unfortunately, during the ongoing abortion debate, the spotlight is focused solely on women. Not only that, but many of the harshest critics, as well as those in positions to enact legislation regarding abortion, are men. What… the… actual… hell?

If we step back and assess the situation dispassionately, and are honest, this makes no sense and is unjust.

Many, probably most, men are clueless about female sexuality and how the female reproductive system works. Many men enjoy sex with women and are unaware that their partners are not satisfied. Many men do not even know what the clitoris is or understand the changes in a woman’s body and mind during her menstrual cycle and during pregnancy, but are vociferous in objecting to women deciding not to proceed with pregnancies they do not wish to carry.

And men can say some truly asinine things, especially when the male ego is combined with the irrationality of religion, giving them a sense of entitlement to make utterly nonsensical pronouncements.

For example, last year I heard a Roman Catholic priest on a local television talk show say that his church prohibits abortion, even in cases of rape, but that if a woman is raped she can go to an emergency room and get the sperm flushed out of her. His statement is absolutely ridiculous, as “flushing out sperm” is not effective in preventing pregnancy.

Then last week, when I was a guest on a local radio talk show, a man identifying himself as a pastor called in and confidently stated that when a woman has an abortion, she is unable to have children afterwards. Being an obstetrician and gynaecologist in practice for over two decades, and knowing that his statement was rubbish, as I have personally delivered many women who had previously had abortions, I called him out on his blatantly fallacious remark. His response was to put me in my place and tell me that he is a pastor and knows what he is talking about.

Some persons express the view that when it comes to the topic of abortion, men should be silent and keep their opinions to themselves. My view is not as drastic. I believe that we are all entitled to our opinions and to share them. After all, I am a man and I am sharing mine. However, unless a man is trained or works in the fields of female reproductive health, mental health or sexuality, or understands these topics and has the capacity to empathize, I do not believe he should be given any authority to make decisions about abortion and its legislation.

If all goes well during a pregnancy and a baby is delivered, half of the child’s DNA will be from the man. So, men should not be excluded from the conversation. Not all men are misogynistic sex-crazed buffoons, as some women would have us believe, and last week I had a sobering experience which served as a reminder to not stereotype.

FELT HIS PAIN

I happened to be on a panel at a public forum on abortion. The meeting was held at a church and the panelists and attendees were a mixture of persons with pro-choice or anti-abortion sentiments. During the question and answer session, a man walked up to the mic and introduced himself. I recognized his name immediately. I did not know him in person but had interacted with him several times on Facebook. Our interactions were usually on the topic of abortion. He was clearly anti-abortion and we would clash repeatedly, as I am outspokenly pro-choice. His criticisms of me were harsh and it was clear that he had little use for me. So, I thought that I was going to hear an abrasive anti-abortion rant from him. But rather than tuning him out, I directed my gaze at him and listened intently.

He opined that pro-choice folks speak a lot about empathy for the women but asked, “Where is the empathy for men who are affected by abortion?” His story was that many years ago he had the opportunity to be a father, but the pregnancy was aborted, and he was devastated. Since then, he has tried to have a child but has been unable to, citing premature ejaculation and other male reproductive system issues that have served as barriers to him fathering a child. He is now married for several years and despite treatment, nothing has happened.

Decades after the abortion, the man is still grieving. I felt his pain. I understood his grief, and our Facebook verbal slugfests suddenly all made sense to me. When the forum was over, I sought him out, walked over to him, hugged him and told him how sorry I was for his pain.

Men do have right to their opinions, but more importantly, they need to be involved in the conversation by being educated about women’s minds and bodies and encouraged not to be careless with their penises. After all, it takes two to tango.

- Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian and poet. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and michabe_1999@hotmail.com, or tweet @mikeyabrahams