Living “Bro-Choice”: It just doesn’t add up

injustice social justice babyRecently, RH Reality Check published an article about Choice USA’s new “bro-choice” campaign. According to Andrew Jenkins, this campaign is designed to “lift up the work young men are already doing to challenge gender oppression in their own communities, and we’re recruiting more young men to do the same.” The article then tries to go through a host of issues men should be more outspoken about.

Should men stand against rape and sexual violence? Should they speak out about sexual abuse, seek appropriate health care for themselves, make healthy sexual choices, and build strong families? Without a doubt, the answer is a resounding yes.

However, Andrew Jenkins and Choice USA dance around one of the main issues at play – abortion. Very few would disagree that men should be involved with the issues listed above. Very few would ask a man who spoke out against rape to shut his mouth. Very few would call a man less of a man for working to build a strong family. Do more men need to be encouraged to do these things? Sure. But what does this have to do with abortion?

Jenkins and Choice USA imply that it has a whole lot to do with abortion. Now, only once in Jenkins’s article, not once on the Bro-Choice page, and not once in the Bro-Choice pledge is the word “abortion” mentioned. Instead, a new favorite term – reproductive justice – is thrown around without a real explanation or definition. Here are the phrases and sentences that use “reproductive justice”:

  • [men’s] self-interest in fighting for sexual and reproductive justice
  • an analysis of masculinity in the reproductive justice framework
  • disrupt the dominant narrative that reproductive justice is a “women’s issue”
  • the relationship between men, masculinity, queerness and reproductive justice
  • If you stop a person on the street and ask them to describe what they think a reproductive justice activist looks like, chances are they are going to describe a woman (who may or may not be standing next to a pile of burning bras).
  • In order to truly win reproductive justice, we have to undertake a serious dialogue about the indisputable connection between traditional representations of masculinity and reproductive oppression.
  • challenge traditional gender norms and actively speak out in favor of reproductive justice
  • Living Bro-Choice means being a vocal advocate for reproductive justice, and an authentic ally to women.
  • Be an outspoken champion for reproductive justice.

socialjusticeOkay, we can gather a few things from this list:

  1. Men should fight for reproductive justice.
  2. Traditional masculinity doesn’t support reproductive justice; therefore, it needs to be re-analyzed.
  3. Advocating for reproductive justice is being a true ally of women.

But here’s the problem: it just doesn’t add up. Regardless of the failure to acknowledge that reproductive justice is a new term for abortion (as well as other related issues), we know what the Bro-Choice campaign is talking about here. Despite the pro-choice movement’s typical disdain for any man who speaks out against abortion, they apparently need allies so badly that they are encouraging men to stand up for women – as long as the men do it their way.

Why should men stand up for a notion of “justice” that isn’t true justice at all?

Under the true definitions of justice, it is dishonest to redefine justice to include an action that is, by nature, unjust.  Abortion – which is included and emphasized in ‘reproductive justice’ – violates every single understanding of justice out there.

Abortion does not give every person what they are due.  Instead, it prematurely takes the life of an innocent human being who never had the chance to exercise their equal right to life. …

Abortion conforms neither to truth, fact, or reason.  Truth, the facts of medical science, common sense, human dignity, basic moral decency, and reason all tell us that the unborn child is a person, deserving of the equal right to life.

Abortion is as far from true justice as you can get.

True, traditional masculinity doesn’t support abortion. Men used to be taught to value the lives of their children. They used to be taught to care for the women in their lives – not because women were completely unable to take care of themselves, but because it’s the right thing to do to care about someone you love. Traditional masculinity recognizes that you don’t build a strong family by supporting the killing of the family’s most innocent and helpless members. Traditional masculinity does not allow men to take the “easy way out” by aborting an unplanned child. Traditional masculinity does not allow men to hand a woman the cash, drive her to the clinic, and leave her to suffer through the physical and emotional consequences of abortion for the rest of her life.

It’s obvious that the abortion wrecked my life. Emotionally, I was a different person before and after it. It left a path of destruction in my life. My family, my first marriage, my image of myself – all a total wreck. Nothing will ever be the same.

I know now the lies I was told, the truths that were withheld from me, the facts that were glossed over or left out. As a pregnant woman, I go to my doctor’s office and see pictures of babies in tummies. Month by month, I hear my baby’s heartbeat. I’m told how to do everything that’s best for my baby’s health. Why is it legal across town to NOT tell these things?

Supporting abortion is the absolute last way to be a true ally of women. Women do not need more men speaking out and encouraging them to get abortions or even informing them that it’s “their choice.” Women do not need men taking them to places that lie to them, all the while claiming to provide “services.” Women do not need to end up at a clinic like Gosnell’s or like Delaware Planned Parenthood because men told them it was okay. Simply put, advocating for abortion is not being an ally for women.

Also – since the “Bro-Choice Pledge” advocates asking for women’s consent and respecting her answer, where is the section where Choice USA speaks out against men who commit violence against women who refuse to get an abortion? Where’s the outcry against that widespread violence and the respect for those women?

(Interestingly, in Jenkins’s only use of the word “abortion,” he asserts that “the truth is that women aren’t the only ones who have abortions.” Whaaaat? Since when have men lain down on the operating tables, put their feet in stirrups, and been subjected to abortions?)

Perhaps if Jenkins wants to advocate for men becoming allies of women, he could get his most basic facts straight first. Women are indeed the ones who have abortions. They are not the only ones affected, but they are the only ones who can have them. And any true man will refuse to let a woman get an elective abortion (of course, in nonviolent ways). He will refuse to let her walk through the doors of any clinic, hospital, or other place that does abortions and, in so doing, hurts women and children in unspeakable ways.

A true man will stand up as a woman’s real ally in the situation and do everything in his power to care for the child he helped to create – as well as for the woman who is carrying his child.

  • Hostem Rei Publicae
    • Kristiburtonbrown

      Yeah, it’s definitely the pro-abortion men who are prone to violence. There are a number of stories out there like that one – where men force an abortion on a woman or where they punish her by violence or death when she keeps the child. That’s the violence we need to stop, because it’s the violence that actually occurs.

  • JDC

    I guess that when they discovered that “bro” rhymes with “pro”, they really, really felt the need to act on this information.

  • Deege

    “Women aren’t the only ones who have abortions” is within the same “we’re pregnant” narrative that many men are using these days. I don’t have any problem with it if it drives home the man’s involvement in responsibility for the child. It is true that there are mothers who have abortions against the father’s wishes. To me, these men are post-abortive even though they didn’t physically have an abortion.

    I take issue with the suggestion of men “refusing to let” women walk into a building. I do believe the father has an equal interest in and responsibility for the welfare of the child, but the suggestion that a man should physically or otherwise dominate a woman to get his way is the same argument for male domination that leads to rape, among other things, and supports the pro-choice argument that men are trying to control women. Why go there and feed the propaganda beast? I agree that a true man does not abandon his children to neglect or death. I do think he should appeal to the woman with all his heart and soul, with family and clergy support as appropriate and available, and with a legal process if one exists, to save his child. Perhaps you are using rhetoric, but equating “true masculinity” with controlling women isn’t the way forward for a lot of people. Let’s take this to the extreme: If a man had to kidnap a woman and keep her captive for nine months to keep her from going to an abortion clinic, would we consider this “true masculinity”? I hope not. There are other ways to get there, by changing the woman’s heart and mind, providing support and convincing her to save the child.

    On another note, it would be great to see a men’s group, or a pro-life group in general, take hard and concrete steps to promote and enforce child support legislation. To my knowledge, Feminists for Life have been the only real prolife players in this arena. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Since we know that some of the key reasons for elective abortion come from concerns about finances and career impact, an effective mechanism for financial accountability from the father is critical — instead of defaulting to mothers petitioning financial support from the government. While it’s true that encouraging marriage when pregnancy occurs is one way of promoting child support from the father, it’s a philosophy not a concrete action. You cannot legally force someone to get married but you can legally compel child support. It takes two people to make a child last time I checked, and in my opinion they both are obligated to support that child whether they are married or not. I rarely see strengthening child support laws and enforcement at the top of any prolife agenda. It might not comport with conservative positions about marriage and sex but I think it has a direct impact on reducing abortion. If we want to save lives, we need to do whatever it takes to do it. I am all for PRC’s providing moral support and baby supplies to the mother, but it might help if they uniformly added pro-bono legal assistance to collect and enforce child support. The courts are difficult to navigate when you are 24/7 caring for a newborn. In the PRC websites I’ve visited, I haven’t really seen this as a concrete service. Have others?

    • ldwendy

      Thank you for pointing out that the extreme conclusion of Kristi’s article is that any “true” man could kidnap a woman for nine months to keep her from having an abortion. I was going to point that there is always the possibility a woman does not want to carry around a fetus for nine long months, much less parent a child at that particular time. That would be a perfect example of the “men trying to control women” narrative that we often hear about in the media.

      • Basset_Hound

        What if a man “doesn’t want” to provide support for the child he fathers “at that particular time”. Should he have the same right to kill the child that you are arguing for the woman to have? On the contrary, he does not. If the law says he owes support, what he “wants” is beside the point. He has a responsibility to face for 18 YEARS. You, on the other hand are arguing that women are so superficial and weak that they can’t be expected to put up with nine MONTHS of inconvenience.

        • ldwendy

          You can view the issue of “control” both ways. Men who grow up in patriarchical and sexist societies men will always viewing women as breeding machines. For example, a woman who postpone her career plans to raise children does not necessary mean she can achieve them later. There are many stories of smart female lawyers who could never make partner at law firms after raising children.

          How dare you assume 9 months of pregnancy is merely an “inconvenience” for every woman. Different women have different experiences of pregnancy. I have read about women who were so sick from morning sickness and the exhaustion they could no longer work, and was fired because they took too many days off. I had toxemia with my first pregnancy and was on bed rest with my second pregnancy. You have no right to minimize and gloss over the trials of pregnant women. Please don’t insult pregnant women everywhere by saying 9 month of pregnancy is a mere inconvenience. It is more than an inconvenience when you can no longer work.

          • Basset_Hound

            Really? Who are you to define what I have a “right” to do?

            How dare YOU gloss over the life of a child by describing it as something that is subject to being discontinued on the basis of YOUR whims or wishes. A pregnancy is temporary. Once it is over, the mother can place the child up for adoption or surrender it for foster care if she can’t or doesn’t want to be a parent. If a mother terminates the life of the child because she “doesn’t want” to “parent it at this time”, the child is DEAD.

      • Some guy on one of the pro-life facebook pages was bemoaning the fact that his girlfriend aborted, with much talk about what a selfish, callous slut she turned out to be. He claims to be a follower of Christ and staunchly pro-life. Well, riddle me this: Where was HIS responsibility in all this? Why was he having a sexual relationship outside of marriage? Did he not know that the risk of pregnancy affects him, as well? There was no commitment there, no discussion of marriage or family, no expectation from this woman that she would be willing to do anything else with or for him.

        And ultimately it seems she decided that she did NOT want a lifetime connection to this guy, which was probably a wise decision on her part. He doesn’t seem to realize that he is just as responsible for his child’s “death” as she is. One could hope that for him this is a hard lesson learned, and he’ll keep it in his pants until he finds someone who’s on the same page about marriage and family and, you know, MARRY her. I don’t know, though, he certainly seems to have succumbed to a victim mindset, which all too often masks the lesson you should have learned in the first place.

        • Hostem Rei Publicae

          There’s a big difference between premarital sex and murder. No comparison.

          • My point, in case you missed it, is that he seems to think HE bears no responsibility for this “murder.” He had a “choice,” too, but he seems to think that all the risks and consequences of sex and pregnancy only apply to the woman, not him. Good grief, you’d think “you” would demand a lot more accountability from men within your own community. But you don’t, that much is clear.

            Move along, nothing to see here . . .

          • ldwendy

            To drive home all the risks and consequences of sex and pregnancies apply to both males and females, more pro-lifers should advocate the idea that men receive vasectomies once they reach puberty, and then have the vasectomies reversed when they are ready to become a parent. A vasectomy is reversible, and carries less risks for the man than a pregnancy does to a woman.

          • Basset_Hound

            Better yet, why not encourage young people to build relationships, get married and THEN engage in sex. We should also introduce the concept of taking responsibility for their choices without sacrificing the life of an innocent person.

          • ldwendy

            Your aversion toward premarital sex is showing.

            “Taking responsibility” is codespeak for punishing a couple for engaging in premarital sex.

            And I take issue with your trying to give a 3-week embryo all the rights of personhood.

          • Basset_Hound

            “Taking responsibility” isn’t “codespeak” for anything except in the nether reaches of YOUR fevered mind.

          • You seem to have missed the point that premarital sex often LEADS to abortion. It’s pretty clear from your reaction that you’re a hypocrite. Do you really think that people you know in real life, whom you wish to influence, haven’t noticed it too?

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            No, you’re saying he’s not a victim. That is nonsense. He tried to save the child’s life and she killed her. If it was the other way around he would be in jail and rightfully so.

          • No, I’m saying that he’s minimizing his responsibility for his child’s death. If he had adhered to the beliefs that he “claims” to hold dear . . . well, there’s really no reason to take this any further. I certainly hope he won’t go on to impregnate someone else without knowing whether or not she’s willing to have a child. I’m not convinced he’s learned what he should have, but you just keep on giving “pro-life” guys a pass when they suffer the consequences of their own behavior. It’s working out really well.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            Why would you think he would do it again? He’s obviously traumatized by the whole situation. He’s grieving over the loss of a child and you just want talk trash. No one’s giving him a pass but you’re clearly equating sex with murder.

          • Yes, sex=murder, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

            *massive eye roll*

            He’s not grieving so much as he’s blaming. Two different things. And yeah, you are giving him a pass because of “grief.” Like I said, just keep it up. It’s awesome.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            Of course he’s blaming. She killed his baby.

          • Yep, and he’s got no responsibility in this situation at all. You’re totally right. 9_9 Hope you’re a lot more careful than he was. If you’re screwing somebody, you’d better be sure she’s willing to have your kid first.

          • It was hers, too. The problem is that she only functions in this narrative as a “cold blooded killer,” not as an actual human being. For you, this guy and the child are the only humans involved. She’s just . . . nothing. A nothing that SHOULD (there’s that word again) have done what he wanted despite her own doubts about hitching her wagon to his star.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            They both had sex with each other. Only one of them killed the baby. What is so hard to understand about that?

          • They’re both responsible for a situation that got out of hand and led to destruction. If you don’t understand it, I really can’t help you out with that.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            I never said it was perfectly ok. The point is after the fact he was willing to take responsibility for his actions. She was not willing to take responsibility for her actions. He has every right to be upset.

          • So he’s upset; he should be. The point is that he should be every bit as upset for his own part as he is hers. He isn’t. Maybe someday he’ll grow up enough to realize that he should be. Or he’ll just spend the rest of his days laying all the blame on her. Who knows? If he doesn’t grow up, he’s more than likely surrounded by any number of enablers who will continue to aid him in minimizing his own responsibility. Like I said, don’t know what to tell you if you don’t think that’s wrong. Business goes on as usual, I suppose.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            She was not nothing to him. She was the mother of his child. Him and the child were nothing to her.

          • She wasn’t anything to him other than someone to have sex with and/or have his child because that’s what he wanted her to do. If you don’t understand that he seemed to think sex wouldn’t actually result in a pregnancy that his sexual partner might not be willing to carry to term, I don’t know what to tell you. Nothing, I guess. That was a huge risk for a christian pro-lifer to take. But, you don’t have a problem with it, so I don’t know why you’re even still commenting. You might be fooling everybody else, just don’t think that you’re actually fooling everybody.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            It’s stigmatization of premarital sex that leads to abortion. If people showed more encouragement for single mothers instead of pointing fingers there would be less abortions. If more young men tried to do the right thing like the one we’re talking about there would be less abortions. You can blame anyone’s death on sex because that’s where we all come from. Some married women kill thier kids too.

          • The “right thing,” obviously, would have been NOT having sex with someone he didn’t know very well. Blame death on sex? Married women kill kids? I don’t even know what you’re trying to say here. I’m talking about a specific incident wherein the guy is claiming that he has no responsibility for the ultimate outcome. THAT is the real nonsense. But hey, give the “pro-life” guys a pass on their responsibility for creating children they’re not sure will ever see the light of day. It’s working out so well.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            Your questions can be answered by this statement: “You seem to have missed the point that premarital sex often LEADS to abortion.” You are suggesting that by bringing a child into the world one could be held equally guilty along with the child’s killer if a homicide occurs and that the child would have some kind of force field around him if the parents are married. You never said that he ever claimed to have no responsibility, but he’s not the one who choose to murder the child. You also have no legitimate reason to believe he wasn’t willing to marry her.

          • No, I’m suggesting that in this one particular situation, not some kind of weird tangent you’ve gone off on, He. Blames. Her. Completely. He IS equally guilty for NOT being careful sexually and creating a life he had NO assurance would ever see the light of day. I don’t know whether he was willing to marry her or not, but he SHOULD have if he wanted her to have his child, and it SHOULD have been discussed before sex was ever had. Your insistence that he does not bear EQUAL guilt is hypocritical, and I’m sorry about that. I certainly hope you’re a lot more responsible than he has been in your own life.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            I don’t see how blaming and condemning someone who was willing to take responsibility for his actions, and suggesting he’s not a Christian, could possibly be helpful.

          • I’m not suggesting he’s not a christian. His behavior indicates that he believes all those christian rules are fine for thee, not necessarily for me. His behavior indicates that he didn’t realize that the consequences of sex applied to him as much as they did his girlfriend. He just assumed that she would go along with whatever he wanted. That, obviously, is a very dangerous way to think.

          • Hostem Rei Publicae

            Again, he was willing to take responsibility for the consequences. She wasn’t. He acted as a Christian. She acted as a cold blooded killer.

          • He didn’t act as a christian by being sexually active with someone he wasn’t married to. He never even THOUGHT about the consequences in the first place. All he cared about was getting laid; everything beyond that point was an afterthought and not really relevant to the initial irresponsibility.

        • Basset_Hound

          EXACTLY!!! It’s incumbent on BOTH people to get to know each other’s characters before initiating any kind of sexual contact. If this dude is crying about his girlfriend, it was HIS responsibility to figure out the kind of person she was LONG before he dropped trou. If he would have kept his pants on and just gone home, he would just chalk up the experience of dating an unpleasant person as a lesson in the school of hard knocks, but would not have been grieving for the loss of his child.

      • Kristiburtonbrown

        I’m certainly not advocating for violence in any way in this article. A man who truly cares about his child (and the woman carrying his child, as I pointed out in my article) would not resort to any type of violent action.

        However, the issue isn’t whether or not a woman “wants to carry around a fetus (baby) for nine long months” or “parent a child.” The issue is that a man has a right to be an equal partner, and as the father of the child, should stand up for that child’s life. The child’s life is more important than what a woman feels is convenient for her at that point of time.

        In what other issue do we set desires and conveniences above the life of an innocent person? There is no other issue. In fact, in several issues in American law, the life of one person is set above the liberty of another. It’s not controlling of a man to insist that abortion is not an option and that his child deserves a chance at life. It’s not controlling for him to do whatever nonviolent thing he can to save his child’s life. It’s simply the responsible, right thing to do.

      • guest

        What if a woman was beating her 1-year-old child? A lawful punishment would be a prison sentence in order to prevent her from hurting her child. What if, instead, that woman was trying to kill her child? Certainly such a crime would warrant at least a prison sentence, if not something more severe. Why is it then, that when a mother wants to kill her unborn child, it is seen as a crime to prevent her from doing so, even if that means locking her up? If someone was trying to kill you, wouldn’t you want anyone to lock them up, to stop them from murdering you?

        • ldwendy

          First, I don’t consider a 3-week embryo a child. An embryo is a potential child, not a real one.

          No one can force me to donate a kidney or blood to someone else against my will. Similarly, forcing a woman (who doesn’t want to remain pregnant) to use her body as life support for an unwanted organism is a form of slavery. Is your zeal for the potential child so great that you don’t care how the mother feels?

          It was my choice to carrying my two pregnancies to term. I am not going to judge what anyone else wants to do with their pregnancies.

          • Basset_Hound

            Your reasoning is seriously flawed. The vast majority of pregnancies come from acts of consensual sex. If a woman does not want to become pregnant, she can either abstain from sex or utilize some form of long term contraception. Just as a dog becomes a dog the moment a dog ovum combines with a dog sperm, a child becomes a child when a human ovum combines with a human sperm. There is no point when a child is “kinda sorta….but not really human”, based on some arbitrary age, size or develomental criteria. Is your contempt for an unborn child or your bitterness over your life in general so great that YOU can’t recognize that a child is not chattel or property, nor should his right to live depend on the whims of another person. If we “zealots” didn’t care about the mothers, why do you think we would offer them aid, resources and emotional support.

          • ldwendy

            Using your logic, she should have handed the colicky baby to the dad who wanted this precious child so much, and left him to deal with the screaming baby. After all HE wanted to be a parent, not her.

            And why should HIS “obligations” take precedence over what she wants to do?

          • Basset_Hound

            But neither one has the right to kill the child. The child’s right to live does NOT depend on whether or not someone wants to assume responsibility for his care. The child’s right to live takes precedence over the whims of either one of the adults.

          • Calvin Freiburger

            “No one can force me to donate a kidney or blood to someone else against my will. Similarly, forcing a woman (who doesn’t want to remain pregnant) to use her body as life support for an unwanted organism is a form of slavery.”

            Why are the two situations similar?

          • Basset_Hound

            “When we consider that women are treated as property it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton,

          • ldwendy

            I think they are similar. If you disagree, fine.

    • Kristiburtonbrown

      I agree with your take on driving home men’s responsibility for caring for their children. If the author had said something more along the lines of “women aren’t the only ones affected by abortion,” or “women aren’t the only ones who choose abortion,” I wouldn’t have made an issue of his statement. But “women aren’t the only ones who have abortions” is no more accurate than “women aren’t the only ones who give birth.” If the author wants to discuss men’s involvement in abortion, I’m all for discussing that. But let’s discuss it, not just throw out an offhanded, inaccurate comment =)

      You also provide good ideas for men who want to stop an abortion – there are indeed many good avenues they should pursue. I’m not advocating for violence. I am saying that a man should take any nonviolent option available to him to stop the murder of his child. We would encourage that kind of action in any other situation where a father was defending his child, and so we should encourage it here. Violence, however, is much more an issue on the other side. Men who force women to have abortions or punish them for not getting one – that’s where we need to stop the violence. If a man is trying to save his child’s life, he’s very unlikely to pursue a violent course of action (and he shouldn’t) because hurting a woman doesn’t help her or the child.

      Finally, yes, we should pursue better child support laws. But an even bigger issue is that men have zero rights when it comes to their unborn child. They’ve been denied the legal right to stand up for their children, and it should be given to them as an equal partner. (Men should still attempt to stop an abortion by using the courts or other legal systems.) But if we demand responsibility from them once the child is born, they should be allowed to take responsibility beforehand, too. A woman should not be able to choose an abortion on her own, specifically when she has a man who wants to care for his child. A father should have a legal right to stop the abortion – and of course, yes, he should then be willing to pay for the care of his child.

  • Basset_Hound

    I guess these guys want an endless supply of sexually available females who won’t make any demands on them for relationships or commitment. After all, irresponsible men are the biggest benefactors of unfettered abortion.

  • John Eidsmoe

    So killing innocent babies is now called “reproductive justice”? That’s a new high for newsspeak.

  • Daisychain

    I say, Men, be *real men*, – live Bro’LIFE!!

  • Katherine S

    Oh, so men can be pro-choice, but they aren’t allowed to be pro-life?

    • Basset_Hound

      Exactly. If men are pro-choice they can treat women like crap and still be adored. Look at Bill Clinton.