Three challenges are at the heart of the men and abortion matter. First, what does it mean to be a man? Second, what does it mean to be a sexually active man? And third, what does it mean to accompany your sex partner or any female who asks to an abortion clinic?
Unless and until we make overdue progress in refining what it means to be a man, we may always rue the situation where men and abortion is concerned. We need clarity: to be a man is to have the well-being of all women as a central concern, and to understand that where their bodies and mental health are in jeopardy the woman's final decision is just that—final.
Second, unless and until we make overdue progress in refining what it means to be a sexually active man, we will have far more abortions that is healthy for men, women, and other living objects. We need clarity: to be a sexually active male is to take full responsibility to being a knowledgeable and sensitive contraceptor. This is not a role only for females, but is a shared responsibility that males must undertake with far more intelligence and artistry that at present.
Schools and various formal religions, along with the mass media, must do their part in raising the level of male awareness of contraception options, and their various strengths and limitations.
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Finally, unless and until we make overdue progress in reforming the Abortion Clinic scene, we will not achieve a desirable state of affairs—one that honors us all. A male in a clinic waiting room should have rights and responsibilities.
His rights include access to solo and/or couples counseling, access to contraception education, access to knowledge about the procedure, access to his mate in the procedure room (if she so requests), and access to his mate in the Recovery Room (if she so requests).
His responsibilities include learning how to be a better contraceptor, learning how to prepare for any emotional turmoil immediately after the procedure, and learning how he might help pro-choice organizations keep access to abortion legal.
This agenda is a complex and arduous one. Fortunately, it has momentum, as many fine clinics across the nation are far ahead in the matter, and many clinic leaders are advocates of the reforms cited above. What is lacking is a men's movement to promote the changes, and a mass media campaign—consistent and sensitive—to help call public attention to the challenge. Thanks now in some small, but possibly significant part to the Men and Abortion website that Claire Keyes and I have launched, thousands of men and women world-wide are beginning to get the message—and I am more hopeful now that at any time since the mid-1980s when I helped write the first book on the subject: Men and Abortion: Lessons, Losses, and Love. I sense a turning in favor of reform, and it cannot come soon enough.