With recent changes on the Supreme Court, states across the country are vying to pass the most restrictive abortion legislation possible in hopes of setting up a judicial challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

In some states, the widely-held exception for cases of rape and incest has been discarded, meaning that women will be forced by the state to carry the child of their rapists and to give birth.

While opinions on abortion vary wildly across the political and religious spectrum, a look at the political bodies that make the decision about what women should be required to do with their bodies is dominated by the gender who will never face the question themselves.

A look at the overall numbers in three states — Alabama, Georgia and Missouri — by the Washington Post showed that 7 of 8 votes in support of those laws came from men.

And this, unfortunately, isn’t unusual. In 2012 a picture from a Congressional hearing on birth control went viral online because it showed the witnesses speaking — five men — prompting some female lawmakers to get up and leave.

Even in The Herald-Zeitung, the conversation about abortion is dominated by men. Guest columns and letters to the editor on the topic are almost always written by men who are, absent scientific or supernatural miracle, incapable of getting pregnant or giving birth. 

Nobody is saying that men shouldn’t be capable of having an opinion on the issue, or sharing that opinion with others. This newspaper will continue to publish such submissions as it always has.

But it’s worth asking the question — where are the voices from the people who will actually face the question of an unplanned, unexpected pregnancy — potentially as the victim of a horrible crime?

The Herald-Zeitung is listening.


(9) comments

Gloria Meehan

Thank you, Chris, for pointing out this important inequity about the lack of women's voices at the table on this vital issue concerning freedom of choice. Frankly, no woman believes abortion is an answer. And yes, I am a woman, so I can speak on this matter. Rather, it's about whether WE WOMEN have a choice about our own bodies, which includes our reproductive systems. Or - as has been historically true - will we forever remain second-class citizens by the mere fact that we can actually bring a human life to fruition (I've yet to hear of a man who can…I’d be somewhat relieved if that did happen) and therefore, must be controlled, legislated against and even worse, merely considered a “vessel”? The "saving of innocent lives" has nothing to do with abortion, else we'd be considering the already born in more serious terms or legislating the viability of sperm outside a uterus and whether masturbation constitutes murder. Truly absurd! Yet, how absurd is it that we even have to have this conversation about women owning their own bodies? Until men actually understand what it’s like to be a woman and to be considered “less than”, this is a personal issue that only women can decide for themselves.

Ray Jeffrey

You avoid the universal moral question - is abortion the taking of a human life?An unborn baby is in a woman's body, but the baby is not her body. Unlike the woman's own body, the baby has his/her own sex, DNA, etc. Should an unborn baby girl have a say in what is done to her body? If she had a voice, do you think she would vote to be killed?

Gloria Meehan

Wow! Totally obtuse. The "question" is whether women have a voice - or not - in decisions that are made every day by men (mostly white males) about how to control their bodies. This has nothing to do with a moral imperative. That's personal. Frankly, I'm not seeing any valuable insight in your comments, suggestions or questions.

Ray Jeffrey

Identity politics are unhelpful. You could just as easily have editorialized that black babies are disproportionately the victims of abortion, and that we need more African-American voices speaking out about this injustice. Why are so many white people working so hard to kill black babies? The moral question is the same, regardless of race or sex: is abortion the taking of human life?

Should guilty rapists be summarily put to death? Maybe. Should the innocent, defenseless human beings produced by rape be summarily executed? I think not, but why don't you address that question facing the entire human race?

Chris Lykins

In my experience the idea of "identity politics" is largely a fig leaf notion used by the status quo to maintain their comfortable position in it — a rhetorical "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

I'm a middle-aged white guy, but if women, or people of color, or the handicapped, or veterans, or the elderly are disproportionately affected by a policy because of those very divisions, then identity politics are not only relevant, they are entirely the point.

Ray Jeffrey

It's irrelevant that you are a middle-aged white guy. Can you answer the universal moral question -- is abortion the taking of human life?

Chris Lykins

Man, I don't know that you could have more clearly missed the whole point of this exercise than you did.

The editorial, and this conversation, was built around the lack of women's voices in a political discussion that disproportionately involves women.

You don't get to decide that the conversation is actually about a moral question that you want to debate instead of the conversation that was taking place merely because you want to debate that moral question. That's not how this works.

You want to have that discussion? Send me a letter to the editor or a guest column and then when it shows up here you can have that discussion.

Until then, think about the optics of a "Well, actually" dude showing up to comment on a piece about the lack of women's voices...

John Landry

Lykins, so you are you the only male permitted to comment on this subject.

Chris Lykins

John, if you've got thoughts about the voices of women and the lack thereof on this particular topic, by all means, chime in.

Welcome to the discussion.

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