Page 3860 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 27 August 2008

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issues, because even in our modern world, women are still discriminated against. They still hit the glass ceiling in the workforce; women are still paid less than men for the same work; they are still the target of domestic violence. Increasingly, in almost all cases, it is men that bring on that discrimination.

Earlier on I mentioned Dr Leslie Cannold. This year, Dr Cannold was appointed to the Victorian Department of Human Services’ Human Research Ethics Committee, and she wrote a piece on this issue on 22 August, just a few days ago. She said:

Whenever abortion is at issue, questions about the place of men in the debate loom large and unspoken. What role do men play in political and personal discussions about termination, and what role—morally speaking—should they play?

Dr Cannold goes on to say:

The facts are simple. Men dominate the politics of abortion in the same way they do all other issues. One source claims that 77 per cent of anti-choice leaders are men. And male religious leaders such as the Pope (through the Vatican’s membership of the United Nations) have significant influence on global reproductive health policy.

Even on the pro-choice side, where most leadership roles are held by women, men have been critical to the success of campaigns that give women the right to decide.

I will continue to quote from the article where it says:

ACT politician Wayne Berry and Canadian Henry Morgentaler have driven legal change that sees abortion treated like all other medical procedures.

Research shows that while the vast majority of women faced with an unplanned pregnancy don’t want counselling, they do want information from the biological father. Indeed, he is the person they are most likely to consult. Does he want a child, now or ever? What role will he play in raising it? What support might he provide if she decides to go it alone? The willingness of a man to engage in such discussions, and the answers he gives, will critically affect the woman’s decision.

Men’s role in the decisions individual women make about problem pregnancies is a simple fact of life to which no concept of “ought” can or should apply.

But before you can determine the proper role of men in the political debate, you must recognise that the decision about continuing or terminating a pregnancy is not open to compromise. You can’t have half a baby or half an abortion. While most women do consult the biological father, ultimately, one person’s view must prevail.

The law privileges the woman’s decision because the bodily experience of pregnancy and birth invest her more heavily in the outcome.

What matters is not that men are involved but how they are involved. Men lack moral standing in the abortion debate—indeed are guilty of moral arrogance—when they push for control over the procedure they’ll never have to have because they can’t get pregnant.

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