Where Do Men Belong in the Abortion Debate?

On Nov. 14, House Bill 413 was proposed in the Ohio State Legislature, sponsored by State Representatives Candice Keller and Ron Hood. The bill, which follows two recently passed “abortion reversal” and “born alive” bills, would allow the state to charge doctors who perform abortions with murder, granting full legal protections to unborn fetuses. 

This serves as one of the most extreme examples of anti-abortion legislation to date, and one that, if passed, will likely see much deliberation in court.

For the sake of transparency, I would like to state up-front that I am pro-choice; hopefully, though, that shouldn’t affect the overall message of this article. 

Naturally, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this new legislation, but it got me thinking about my place in the discussion, or, rather, whether I have a place at all. There has been much debate, particularly in the past decade, over whether or not men should even have a say in deciding the legal status of abortion.

Of course, historically, the actual legal changes regarding abortion in the U.S. have almost universally been decided by men. The famous ‘Roe v. Wade’ decision in 1973 was made by an all-male Supreme Court, and ‘Planned Parenthood v. Casey,’ the 1992 decision that upheld it, was made with only one female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, on the court.

News media does little to dispel the male-dominated discourse surrounding an issue that affects predominantly female-identifying individuals, with most of the “talking heads” seen on cable news shows being older cisgender men.

The irony of pointing out this issue while contributing to it myself is not lost on me. However, my purpose in writing is not to say one way or another if abortion should be legal.

While I dislike what House Bill 413 is trying to do, I must say that it’s somewhat refreshing to see a bill of this kind sponsored by both a male and female representative. There’s still a long way to go in terms of giving control back to women on this issue, but it’s certainly an improvement over the days of entirely male courts deciding a female reproductive rights case.

As much as men on both sides of the aisle, like myself, try to argue the ethics of abortion, it’s never going to be decided by us. We aren’t the ones who are going to end up having to make that choice, because we will never be as close to the issue as we like to believe.

Of course, as refreshing as it is that HB 413 is sponsored equally by male and female representatives, part of me still wonders what the purpose really is of a male-sponsored abortion bill in the first place. Again, as much as some might like to argue otherwise, it simply isn’t our issue. 

No real progress will ever be made on either side until men finally take a hands-off approach to abortion legislation and let their female colleagues debate amongst themselves