Unsuspecting men don’t yet know that overturning Roe v. Wade will also change their lives

Unsuspecting men don’t yet know that overturning Roe v. Wade will also change their lives

USA News

Supreme Court ruling could mean avoiding forced fatherhood may become far more difficult unless men agree to practice a lifetime of abstinence.

Amanda Jayne Miller |  Opinion contributor


Many unsuspecting men do not yet know that their lives are on the precipice of changing radically. Unless the leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade is drastically altered, the nearly 50-year-old ruling, which guarantees women the constitutional right to an abortion, appears poised to fall. 

Numerous authors have decried the collision course this will put American women of childbearing age onto, with predicted outcomes ranging from the need for women (at least those who can afford to do so) to travel out of state to America devolving into an Atwoodian hellscape. But it seems that no one is talking about the impact the end of Roe might have on the other half of the population: men.

Abortion does not only affect women

To be clear, many men support abortion rights. As a sociologist who has studied men’s views of abortion, I know that the majority of men feel that decisions about terminating or carrying out a pregnancy should be situational. 

Nearly 70% of the men I interviewed said abortion should be legal, and choices about whether they personally would prefer that their partners terminate an unexpected pregnancy were dependent upon the state of their relationships, their financial situations and their own maturity. 

These views are further reinforced by a study from the Pew Research Center finding that while men, in general, are less likely to believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases than are women, among young adults who are most at risk of unintended childbearing, two-thirds support abortion rights.  

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The consequences of forced fatherhood – especially if their partners also prefer not to have children – are immense. Fatherhood is a lifetime commitment to childrearing, but even for those men who are not active participants in their children’s lives, they will be responsible for years of child support. 

While data on which men’s partners have abortions is scant, because individuals tend to partner with people like themselves, we can extrapolate based on what we know about women who opt for abortions. 

Dems need to fight back: It’s time for Democrats to use the leaked Roe opinion as a battering ram against the GOP

Nearly 1 in 4 women in America will have an abortion by age 45. Of these women, more than half are in their 20s and 60% already have at least one child. Most important, 75% are poor or low income.

This means that their male partners are often among the most vulnerable. They are also likely to be young and low income. Those men who already have children with other partners are more likely to be in particularly precarious situations. The ability to get a better job by attaining more education will be thwarted; the need to work multiple jobs to support their families will take away time spent with children. Indeed, meeting the markers of successful fatherhood – a career, homeownership and marriage – will become infinitely more complicated. 

Less often brought up is the impact on men’s romantic lives. In 2019, for example, just under 630,000 abortions were performed. This number has been steadily falling since the early 1980s, in part due to the availability of effective contraception.

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Some experts anticipate that challenges to Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), which made contraception legal for married and unmarried couples respectively, could soon follow based on similar legal theories. Avoiding an unintended pregnancy may become far more difficult than these men anticipate unless 40-year-old happily married men agree to practice a lifetime of abstinence.

Of course, such arguments will not sway the nearly 10% of American adults who say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, according to Pew. And the current focus placed upon how such a ruling might impact women is highly appropriate given that women will face the cruelest consequences of such a decision. But by ignoring the impacts that severe restrictions on abortion can have on men, we risk leaving a huge group of potential allies in the dark.

Wading into Roe: To the women who support abortion rights, it’s time to make a stand. This ends now.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, should Roe v. Wade be struck down in June, 26 states are likely to make abortion illegal, with some states even attempting to codify laws that would make it illegal for residents to obtain an abortion by crossing state lines.

There are still options. The first among these is to vote in the 2022 midterm elections for pro-abortion rights candidates, allowing Congress or state governments to provide a legislative solution. We can also call our legislators to express our views and share our own stories.

Most important, men, especially, can reframe their thinking. Abortion isn’t just a women’s issue – it’s an everyone issue.

Amanda Jayne Miller is a professor of Sociology and director of Faculty Development at the University of Indianapolis. Her book (with co-author Sharon Sassler), “Cohabitation Nation: Gender, Class, and the Remaking of Relationships,” won the 2018 William J. Good Book Award for Family Sociology. She is a Public Voices Fellows through The OpEd Project.

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