Do men use abortion to manipulate women?

On occasion I run across an article by Albert Mohler, who was at one time the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, and is a widely read social critic. One time he randomly came into the Cokesbury where I worked on Southern Methodist University's campus. Now I have a few theological disagreements with Mr. Mohler, and often find him to be a bit to the right of me on some social and political issues, but if I do see a column of his that looks interesting I'll often give it a chance.

I recently read this one about how abortion has been used by men and ammunition to persuade women to have sex. In a cultural context when abortion was not legal "on demand" as a means of birth control, women could use the risk of pregnancy as a reason for saying "no" to sex, or the fact of pregnancy to persuade the man who fathered the child to propose marriage and help rear the child.

With legal abortion "on demand," men are more likely to expect their girlfriends to have sex with them (perhaps on threat of ending the relationship if they do not), because a potential impediment has been removed (or so the argument will go). And should such illicit sex lead to a pregnancy, the man can abandon his responsibilities in the matter by pointing out that it is (supposedly) "the woman's choice" - and therefore her responsibility alone - if the child is born or not. Whether she has the child or not, he will not feel pressured to marry her.

This, of course, reinforces a number of personal and social problems: the problem of female poverty and single-parenthood and the personal frustration that go with them; the problem of fatherless children who are more likely to get into legal trouble and less likely to succeed in virtually every measurable way than are children with fathers (minority communities are especially hard hit here); the various problems and social ills that result from these first problems (cycles of poverty, overcrowded prisons, etc.); and on it goes.

A practice that was hailed by feminists as liberating for women, giving them more control over their lives, may have - in many cases - had the exact opposite effect. An interesting fact presented in this essay is that the great majority (64%) of women who had abortions felt pressured by others to do so. I was reminded of a comment by bishop Willimon (which I have mentioned before) that a Duke study found that most women who have abortions do so because they feel they have no other choice. It is a sad irony that some call this "freedom of choice."

There is a lot to think about in this article that Mohler has written, and so I do recommend it. As I have argued before, I believe that abortion on demand as a means of birth control (so I am not now speaking of abortion in medical emergencies to save the mother or cases or rape or other rare cases that are sometimes mentioned) is deeply corrosive for our humanity: bad for our families, bad for our children, and therefore bad for our whole community.

Of course, reducing, or eliminating this practice would require a huge cultural shift - a sexual counter-revolution, so to speak. And given the attitudes of many young Americans (and indeed, given the content of the media which is continually fed to us) this does not look especially likely. But who knows what tomorrow may hold, for with God all things are possible.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every woman I know who have had abortions, the men in their lives have been the driving force behind that decision. Women who have bought into the lies of feminism have only traded one set of chains for another. They are still responsible, though, for that choice. They should always choose life; ditch the loser who obviously doesn't care for them very much.

1:52 PM, August 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as abortion "on demand" under Roe v. Wade. For God's sake, read the Supreme Court opinion.

7:19 PM, August 24, 2009  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Dear Anonymous #2,

If the phrase that I have used is an ambiguous shorthand, then perhaps I should have fleshed it out a bit more.

I was not commenting on Roe V. Wade per se (and while that court decision is foundational to the current state of US laws, our laws surrounding the issue of abortion have certainly become alot more numerous and nuanced since then, yet, as you can see below, are still among the most permissive in the world).

For more information on comparative abortion laws, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law

8:45 PM, August 24, 2009  

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