Should “potential fathers” have any say in abortion?


Of course women should have the right to choose. But.. shouldn’t the potential father have the right to be consulted, too?”

If you talk about abortion a lot, and you’re coming from the pro-choice side of the spectrum, you’ve probably heard this- or maybe even said it- a few times. The reasons people give for saying it tend to boil down to two basic ideas: that both people are parents of the potential child and so both should have a say, and that it can be incredibly hurtful to men who want to be parents, if their partners abort the pregnancy that they still want.

Both of those points refer to very real, significant things, and it’s only natural to empathise with people in that situation. However, I’m going to argue that, despite these, there should be no obligation on the part of a pregnant person to consult with, or even inform, their partner about their intent to terminate a pregnancy.

We Don’t Have The Right To Become Parents

Continue reading over at the Tea Cosy’s new home!

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Responding to Alive


I received a comment in response to my post last week on Alive! Gay Pro Life Network from Andrew, who says that he’s one of the people behind AliveGPN. In the interests of clarity I’ve decided to re-post and respond to his comment, and the other interactions I’ve been having with AliveGPN, here. For clarity and to distinguish from other sources, quotes from Andrew are in Times New Roman.

Who are Alive GPN?

Hello friends. I’m one of the individuals behind Alive GPN. Some other gay friends and I who happen to be pro-life have become frustrated with our lack of representation within the LGBT community. We think human rights begin when life begins. So we decided to make a blog and a Twitter to give voice to some of these issues.

Yes, I’m gay. And yes, I happen to be male. So naturally, my perspective on gays and the pro-life movement will reflect my background. Everyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation should be able to speak out on such an important human rights issue.

Of course your perspective will reflect your background. However, a particular background is no excuse for erasing the experiences and existence of those other than you- namely, in your case, the female, trans*, nonbinary and nonmonosexual members of the LGBT community you claim to represent. If you had set Alive up as your personal blog there would be no problem. However, on your Twitter account you describe yourself as: “Alive! Gay Pro-Life Network- bringing together LGBT Americans in support of the right to life.”

This contradiction bothers me. You advertise yourself first as a ‘network’ that ‘brings together LGBT Americans’. Then you backtrack from this, saying that you are, in fact, a group of friends. Then you backtrack further and state that the reason that nobody but cis gay men are regularly mentioned in your blog is because you are one. Which is it, Andrew?

By the way, none of these things- being a network of LGBT Americans, a group of friends, or an individual- are illegitimate. They’re all perfectly valid ways to conduct your business online or offline. However, if you’re going to enter into discourse in good faith then it is your responsibility to give others reason to believe that you are who you say you are. There’s a reason I’m having this conversation with you and not, say, PLAGAL. PLAGAL are clear about who they are and take responsibility and ownership for what they do. I see no evidence that you have done the same.

I want, however, to return for a minute to your assertion that being a cis gay man means that you get to ignore the rest of your community without consequence. Sure, cis gay men get to have perspectives on any issues you please. However, those of us whom an issue directly affects- the cis women, nonbinary people and trans* men who have uteruses and are fertile- are entitled to question you. Our bodies are the site of the consequences of your opinions. Savita Halappanavar and Bimbo Onanuga were not cis gay men. They were women and their agonising deaths could have been easily prevented were it not for anti abortion laws in my country. The women of Termination for Medical Reasons are not cis gay men. The undignified and callous way in which their trauma is intensified could easily be prevented were it not for anti abortion laws in my country, too.

But I’m not here to talk about why I support abortion accessibility. I’m here to talk about my questions regarding you as an organisation. If you are a group of friends who represent cis gay men who are anti abortion, why not say so? Why claim to be something else?

Queerness and Language

The language used was not intended to offend anyone. I personally despise the word “queer” so I don’t use it in writing or in my personal discourse. That’s just me.

That’s an legitimate perspective. Thank you. I don’t want to press this one, as I know that ‘queer’ is a word that in some contexts continues to be used violently against people, and that it is contentious. However, as someone who identifies as queer, I’d have (more) concerns as to your erasure of people like me. How do you refer to people who identify as queer? Or, say, Queer Studies departments in universities?

Also, you don’t seem to have a problem with the word when it (seems to) suit your agenda.

Bullying

As someone who of course encountered anti-gay bullying in school, my intent was never to diminish the tragedy that continues to take place. The point was merely to note we have taken steps as a society to address the issue with new anti-bullying laws, awareness campaigns, etc. Yet unborn children do not have protection under the law when faced with the violence of abortion. Both are wrongs that must be ended in our society.

I have a lot that I could say on your view that abortion can be compared with homophobia. However, my intent with this post isn’t to discuss our views on abortion- there’s no question that we disagree strongly- but to raise my concerns regarding AliveGPN as a group. I’m happy to discuss abortion at a later date.

Instead, let’s go back to that Twitter account description: “Alive! Gay Pro-Life Network- bringing together LGBT Americans in support of the right to life”. If you are a network of LGBT Americans, as well as people who condemn homophobia and anti-gay bullying as strongly as you do those who provide necessary medical care to pregnant people, then why did Geoff find that these were the top non-abortion-related accounts also followed by your followers?

Pontifex, the Pope‘s English account, comes above all others. He has described those who do not share my exclusive fetish for the opposite sex as objectively disordered and having a “strong tendency ordered towards an inherent moral evil.

Paul Ryan repeats his election trick of coming second, despite campaigning tirelessly against marriage equality, adoption rights, and military career options for the LGBTQ community.

Mitt Romney trails Ryan considerably, both in homophobia and ranking, managing only to oppose marriage equality and unduly inconvenience children raised by same sex couples.

Michelle Malkin follows, her energies devoted to countering marriage equality.

The gender balance is further improved by the addition of Alveda King, who opines that “Homosexuality cannot be elevated to the civil rights issue. The civil rights movement was born from the Bible. God hates homosexuality“. 

Ann Coulter is perhaps included because she feels thatmarriage is not a civil right [for the LGBTQ community]”, or that she can “talk gays out of gay marriage”, or perhaps because she opposes sex education that may teach children about the “homosexual lifestyle”. She makes my job easier by issuing all quotes at a talk to gay conservatives.

If you are, as you say in your name, a network of LGBT Americans, and as you say to me, someone who is deeply concerned with anti-gay (pity about the LBTQIA folks, I guess) bullying, then why on earth do you associate with people who encourage and commit bullying against our community? What kind of real-live network of LGBT people overwhelmingly follows those who have made careers out of destroying our rights and our lives? Anti-gay bullying isn’t, as you say, a mere tragedy. It’s a travesty. And your so-called network is overwhelmingly made up of people who commit that travesty. You can say as much as you like that your “intent was never to diminish the tragedy that continues to take place”. Your actions, and your refusal to condemn homophobic organisations, say otherwise.

You could argue- and probably will- that you don’t get to control who follows you. Fair point. However, if you are being followed by homophobes then why aren’t you engaging with them? If you have an audience of people willing to listen to you and opposed to LGBTQ equality, when why aren’t you putting as much effort into winning them over to support your rights as you are into taking away the rights of pregnant people?

Finally..

If anyone shares our pro-life position and would like to offer their perspective, I would certainly welcome it! We all have full-time jobs and this is just a side-project for us so we’ll certainly welcome any assistance in building and improving it.

Feel free to email me: AliveGPN@gmail.com.

Y’know, I think you might have better luck with someone like PLAGAL than the Tea Cosy if what you want is help building your website! But thank you for engaging with me.

Right, Tea Cosiers! What do you think? Have you any questions for Andrew? Is there something I’ve missed? Am I being unfair? Am I being too damn nice? Let me know!

Blog for Choice Day 2013: Why I’m Pro-Choice


bfcd-2013Twelve women. Every day of every week of every year. Twelve women get on planes and ferries and travel to the UK from Ireland for abortions. Every day. In my lifetime that adds up to over one hundred and fifty thousand. Over one hundred and fifty thousand women- that we know of– forced to leave their country and travel, often alone, to unfamiliar cities to wait in hospitals they’ve never been to, to have abortions performed by doctors they’ll never see again, and then to take the long journey back home. A few months ago, drinking coffee before my early morning flight back from the UK I wondered how many other women were waiting in airports around the country. How many of them were taking buses in the chilly pre-dawn air to almost-deserted airports, sitting in departure lounges until their gates were announced, drinking overpriced tea at the gates? How many of them were alone?

I’m not American. Roe vs Wade didn’t give my fellow citizens the right to sovereignty over their own bodies. I’m from a place where these rights don’t exist and where an adult woman is valued only as much as a fertilised egg that implants inside her. I’m from a place where women are left to die in easily-preventable agony to serve the principle of ‘life’. A country that attempts to prevent suicidal children who have survived abuse only to become pregnant from leaving the country. Somewhere that forces women to carry their dead and dying fetuses to term against their wishes. A country that says that no risk short of a woman’s almost certain death is a valid reason to allow her to terminate a pregnancy- which is, by the way, largely to blame for the death of Dr Savita Halappanavar. No other risk to her health and well-being, no matter how severe, painful and permanent. Nothing but certain death.

I come from a country where the moment you become pregnant your life ceases to be your own and becomes the state’s. The only recourse we have- hundreds of thousands of women in a country of only four million citizens- is to leave. We’re lucky. Our country is small and close to our neighbours. There are people who will help us, from overseas hospitals who welcome Irish women with the care they need to organisations like the Abortion Support Network (please donate to them if you can! They need everything they can get) who provide both information and financial help to those who need it.

Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible to live somewhere like here and not be pro-choice. The evidence of this beautiful country of mine’s continued refusal to change, however, can’t but remind me otherwise. And then I remember that in my entire life I have only ever seen one woman in person speak out publicly about having had an abortion. I’ve been going to pro-choice demonstrations since I was old enough to vote. I just turned thirty.

I’m pro-choice because women and trans* men deserve respect and we deserve the dignity of a state that acknowledges that we are the only people with final say on our bodies and our destinies. Because pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood are momentous and change your life forever and everyone needs the right to decide for themselves if they will go through that. Because every child deserves to know that they were wanted and cherished from the moment their parents decided to have them. Because people who have abortions deserve professionalism and support, not degradation and shame.

And I’m pro-choice because banning abortion doesn’t stop people from terminating their pregnancies. It just makes the experience more difficult, traumatic and sometimes more dangerous. Banning abortion in Ireland didn’t stop people having abortions. It meant that we have to scramble to raise thousands of euro, to get time off work, find help to mind the families we might already have, and make a long and lonely trek to a different state. It meant that Irish women have abortions later than their UK counterparts, and that we are far more likely to choose surgical than medical abortions. Medical abortions, you see, while far less invasive, take longer. That is time that we don’t have. And it means that we buy our medical abortion pills online, without prescriptions or medical advice, and that when there are complications we are shamed by the medical professionals we go to for help. The only people prevented from having abortions in this state are those who either cannot afford or are legally prevented from travelling. People without financial support and asylum seekers are some of the most marginalised groups in this country, and by banning abortion we take away their right even to their own bodies.

I am pro-choice because we deserve dignity. We deserve to know that every time we walk into a hospital the doctors and nurses who work with us will be concerned only with our health and wellbeing. We deserve to choose the course of our own lives, and for that choice to be respected by our state. We deserve better than shame.