The author, Gabrielle Blair.
Our conversation about abortion places the burden of responsibility on women. I argue men are the root cause.
As a mother of six and a Mormon, I have a good understanding of arguments surrounding abortion, religious and otherwise. When I hear men discussing women’s reproductive rights, I’m often left with the thought that they have zero interest in stopping abortion.
If you want to prevent abortion, you need to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Men seem unable (or unwilling) to admit that they cause 100% of them.
I realize that’s a bold statement. You’re likely thinking, “Wait. It takes two to tango!” While I fully agree with you in the case of intentional pregnancies, I argue that all unwanted pregnancies are caused by the irresponsible ejaculations of men. All of them.
Don’t believe me?
Fertility stats and the calendar, it’s easy to see that men are the issue here.
Let’s start with this: A woman’s egg is only fertile for about two days each month. Yes, there are exceptions, because nature. But one egg which is fertile two days each month is the baseline. And those fertile eggs are produced for a limited number of years. This means, on average, women are fertile for about 24 days per year.
But men are fertile 365 days a year. In fact, if you’re a man who ejaculates multiple times a day, you could cause multiple pregnancies daily. In theory, a man could cause 1000+ unwanted pregnancies in just one year. While it’s true that sperm gets crappier as men age, it doesn’t have a fertility expiration date; men can cause unwanted pregnancies from puberty until death. So, starting with basic fertility stats and the calendar, it’s easy to see that men are the issue here.
As a society, we really don’t mind if women suffer, physically or mentally, as long as it makes things easier for men.
“But what about birth control?” you might ask. “ If a woman can manage to figure out how to get an abortion, surely she can use birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancy, right?”
Great question. Modern birth control for women is possibly the most important invention of the last century, and I’m very grateful for it. It’s also brutal. The side effects for many women include migraines, mood swings, decreased libido, depression, severe cramps, heavy bleeding, aneurysm — and that’s just a small fraction of them.
Discouragingly, a promising study on a new male contraceptive was canceled in large part due to… (wait for it)… side effects. To be clear, this list of side effects was about one-third as long as the known side effects for commonly used women’s contraception. There’s a lot to unpack in that story alone. I’ll simply point out that, as a society, we really don’t mind if women suffer, physically or mentally, as long as it makes things easier for men.
But, men, I’ve got good news. Even with the horrible side effects, women are (amazingly!) very willing to use birth control. Unfortunately, it’s harder to get than it should be, but that doesn’t keep women from trying. Birth control options for women require a doctor’s appointment — sometimes multiple doctor’s appointments — and a prescription. They’re not always free, and often not cheap. Some are actually trying to make female birth control options more expensive by allowing insurance companies to refuse to cover them. In addition, contraceptive options for women can’t be easily acquired at the last minute. In most cases, they don’t work instantly.
The pill requires consistent daily use and doesn’t leave much room for mistakes, forgetfulness, or unexpected disruptions to daily schedules. Again, the side effects can be brutal — and not just in rare cases. Despite the hassle and side effects, I’m still grateful for birth control. (Please don’t take it away.) But it’s critical to understand that women’s birth control isn’t simple or easy.
In contrast, let’s look at birth control for men — i.e., condoms. They’re readily available at all hours, inexpensive, convenient, and don’t require a prescription. They’re effective and work on demand, instantly. They don’t cause aneurysms, mood swings, or debilitating cramps. Men can keep them stocked up just in case, so they’re always prepared. They can be easily used at the last minute. I mean, condoms are magic! So much easier than birth control options for women.
As a bonus, most women are totally on board with condoms. They keep us from getting STDs. They don’t lessen our pleasure during sex or prevent us from climaxing. The best part? Cleanup is so much easier — no waddling to the toilet as jizz drips down our legs.
So why would there ever be unwanted pregnancies? Why don’t men just use condoms every time they have sex? Seems so simple, right?
Oh. I remember. Men don’t love condoms. In fact, it’s very, very common for men to pressure women to have sex without a condom. It’s also not unheard of for men to remove the condom during sex without the women’s permission or knowledge. (Pro tip: That’s assault.)
Why would men want to have sex without a condom? Because, for the precious minutes when they’re penetrating their partner, not wearing a condom gives them more pleasure. So… that would mean some men are willing to risk getting a woman pregnant — which means literally risking her life, her health, her social status, her relationships, and her career — so they can experience a few minutes of slightly increased pleasure. Is this for real?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Pregnancies happen when men have an orgasm. Unwanted pregnancies happen when men orgasm irresponsibly.
Imagine a pleasure scale, with pain beginning at zero and going down into the negatives. A good back-scratch falls at 5, and an orgasm without a condom is a 10. Where would sex with a condom fall? A 7 or 8? So, it’s not that sex with a condom is not pleasurable, it’s just not as pleasurable. An 8 instead of a 10.
Let me emphasize that again: Men regularly choose to put women at massive risk in order to experience a few minutes of slightly increased pleasure.
For the truly condom-averse, men also have a non-condom, always-ready birth control option built right in: the pull-out. It doesn’t protect against STDs, it’s an easy joke, and it’s far from perfect. However, it’s 96% effective if done correctly, and 78% effective in practice (because it’s often not done correctly).
Still, many men who resist wearing condoms never learn how to pull out correctly. Apparently, it’s slightly more pleasurable to climax inside a vagina than, say, on their partner’s stomach. Once again, men are willing to risk the life, health, and well-being of women in order to experience a tiny bit more pleasure for roughly five seconds during orgasm.
Think of the choice men are making here. Honestly, I’m not as mad as I should be about this, because we’ve trained men from birth to disassociate sex and pregnancy. We’ve taught them that their pleasure is of utmost importance.
As a general rule, men get women pregnant by having an orgasm. Yes, there are exceptions — it’s possible for sperm to show up in pre-ejaculate — but in most cases, getting a woman pregnant is a pleasurable act for men. But men can get a woman pregnant without her feeling any pleasure at all. It’s even possible for a man to impregnate a woman while causing her excruciating pain, trauma, or horror.
In contrast, a woman can have nonstop orgasms with or without a partner and never once get herself pregnant. A woman’s orgasm has literally nothing to do with pregnancy or fertility — her clitoris exists simply for pleasure, not for creating new humans. No matter how many orgasms she has, they won’t make her pregnant.
Pregnancies happen when men have an orgasm. Unwanted pregnancies happen when men orgasm irresponsibly.
A woman can be the sluttiest slut in the entire world, she can love having orgasms all day and all night long, and she will never find herself with an unwanted pregnancy unless a man shows up and ejaculates irresponsibly. Though our society tends to villainize female pleasure, women’s enjoyment of sex does not equal unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Men’s enjoyment of sex and irresponsible ejaculations do.
Let’s move to the topic of responsibility. Often, men don’t know, don’t ask, and don’t think to ask if they’ve caused a pregnancy. There are often zero consequences for men who cause unwanted pregnancies.
If the woman decides to have an abortion, the man may never even know he caused an unwanted pregnancy with his irresponsible ejaculation. If the woman decides to have the baby, or put the baby up for adoption, the man may never know he caused an unwanted pregnancy with his irresponsible ejaculation either. He may never know there’s now a child walking around with 50% of his DNA.
If the woman does tell him he caused an unwanted pregnancy and that she’s having the baby, the closest thing to a consequence for him is child support. Our current child support system is a well-known joke. Only about 61 percent of required payments by men are actually made, and there are little to no repercussions for skipping out. In some states, failing to pay child support doesn’t even affect your credit.
If a man does pay child support, it doesn’t come close to what is required by a woman in the case of an unwanted pregnancy.
Let’s talk about abortion. When the topic comes up, men might think: Abortion is horrible; women should not have abortions. Never once do they consider the man who caused the unwanted pregnancy.
If you actually care about reducing or eliminating the number of abortions in our country, simply hold men accountable for their actions.
If we’re discussing abortion law — and not how to hold men accountable for irresponsible ejaculations, and the unwanted pregnancies caused by them — we’re wasting our time. Shift the conversation. Stop protesting at clinics. Stop shaming women. Stop debating whether or not to overturn abortion laws. If you actually care about reducing or eliminating the number of abortions in our country, simply hold men accountable for their actions.
What would that look like? A real and immediate consequence for men who cause an unwanted pregnancy. What kind of consequence would make sense? Should it be as harsh, painful, nauseating, scarring, expensive, risky, and life-altering … as forcing a woman to go through a nine-month unwanted pregnancy?
If you consider abortion to be murder, consider this thought experiment: Would you be on board with having a handful of men castrated to prevent 600,000 murders each year? If this argument sounds too provocative, could it be that many of us have a hard time wrapping our heads around a physical punishment for men? We seem to be more than fine with physical punishments for women. Perhaps we care more about policing women’s bodies, morality, and sexuality than we do about reducing or eliminating abortions.
Here’s another prevention idea: All males in the U.S. could get a vasectomy when they are ready to be sexually active. Vasectomies are very safe, highly reversible, and about as invasive as a woman getting an IUD implanted. In most cases, there’s some soreness afterwards for about 24 hours, but that’s pretty much it for side effects. (Take a moment to remember that female contraception options, used by millions of women in our country and billions across the world, have well-known side effects which can be brutal and severe — and yes, also include soreness.) If and when a man becomes a responsible adult, finds a mate, and wants to have a baby, the vasectomy can be reversed and then redone once the childbearing stage is over. Each man can bank their sperm before the vasectomy, just in case.
Don’t like my ideas? That’s fine. I’m sure there are better ideas, and I challenge you to suggest your own. My point is we need to stop focusing on women if we’re trying to get rid of abortions. Think of abortion as the “cure” for an unwanted pregnancy. To stop abortions, we need to prevent the “disease” — meaning, the unwanted pregnancy itself. And the only way to do that is by focusing on men, because irresponsible ejaculations by men cause 100% of unwanted pregnancy.
Ask yourselves: What would it take for you to value the life of your sexual partner more than your own temporary pleasure or convenience?
If you’re a man, what would it take for you to never again ejaculate irresponsibly? A loss of money, rights, or freedoms? Physical pain? Ask yourselves: What would it take for you to value the life of your sexual partner more than your own temporary pleasure or convenience?
Men mostly run our government, and men mostly make our laws. In theory, men could eliminate — or drastically reduce — abortions within months without ever touching an abortion law or even mentioning women. They’d simply need to hold men accountable for irresponsible ejaculations, and legislate accordingly.
To reduce or eliminate abortions, stop attempting to control women’s bodies and sexuality. Because unwanted pregnancies are caused by men.