It’s Father’s Day this weekend, and that means a time for everyone to set aside a little time to cherish the fathers in their lives. Except if you are an anti-abortion activist. For them, it’s the perfect time to campaign for men to play a larger role in convincing their sexual partners not to terminate a pregnancy.
Of course, no person wants someone who wants to have a baby to get an abortion instead simply because she feels that she doesn’t have the support she needs from a partner, either financially or emotionally, and to that effect, asking men to play a role makes perfect sense. Yet in the campaign coming from abortion opponents, the image is less about ensuring men support and provide for a new child that a pregnant person wants to have, and borders on using them to coax or even coerce their partners out of a decision she has already made and is happy with after deciding to end the pregnancy.
Out on the streets in front of abortion clinics, I often talk to pro-life activists who tell me they address the men accompanying the pregnant person into the building, believing that it is the man — not the pregnant person — who really wants the abortion and that she is being brought in against her will. For the most part, when talking to the patient inside, their impression is completely and utterly wrong.
Yet that is the underlying theme of the appeals to men from the anti-abortion movement, appeals that have ramped up heading into Father’s Day weekend. In a series of posts about men and their role in abortion, National Right to Life News provides gems such as chastising men for “consenting to, if not actively encouraging them to abort,” as if by not consenting to her termination that should in an ideal world stop the procedure from being done. Others proclaim that by allowing partners to abort, they are now damaged in their traditional, God given role in life as strong protectors of family.
“You see Abortion attacks the fundamental nature of the gift men bring to the family; the defense, protection and provision of the children entrusted to their care,” writes Silent No More’s Kevin Burke in a Father’s Day tribute. “Violating this fundamental law of God can later weaken men in their vocation as husband, fathers and spiritual leaders in the home and in your church.”
Should men be able to stop someone from an abortion that she wants? It’s the call that pro-life activists make on the street, when they tell patient companions to, “Be a man, don’t let her abort your baby!” It’s the impetus behind failed spousal consent laws that never passed court muster, but that still threaten to pop up again in the future, and that some abortion opponents make clear that they would whole-heartedly support. Or in bills that make it virtually impossible for a teen to get an abortion without the consent of her father, regardless of who else agrees to it.
Abortion opponents may be stopping a little shy of saying that men deserve the right to actively block a partner from a wanted abortion, and instead force her to remain pregnant and give birth to “his” baby (although some activists advocate just that, and suggest contacting legal groups to see about potentially getting a “restraining order against the abortion“). But at the very least they are adamant that a real man will always protect “his children” — even if those “children” are just developing embryos that the person carrying them doesn’t want to carry to term or give birth to.
And their more than happy to use Father’s Day to push that assertion.
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