Creative Destruction

December 2, 2006

Abortion is a Human Right – Choice for Men isn’t

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Human Rights,Reproductive Rights — Daran @ 5:30 pm

I’ve been a member of the UK branch of Amnesty International for a while. Although I have issues with its gynocentrism, I generally agree with its aims and methods. The latest edition of its magazine invites members “to take part in the consultation” on ““sexual and reproductive rights“. The motion carried at this year’s AGM (PDF link, see motion A3) made broad reference to reproductive rights for both men and women, including access to contraception. The consultation is narrower, focussing solely on the right of women to abortion. Neither discusses any proposed right which could fall under the rubric of “Choice for Men”. (Edit: It goes without saying that I answered all three of the consultation questions in the affirmative.)

Although I am a long term supporter of both abortion rights for women, and Choice for Men, I think Amnesty has called this one right. Access to birth control including abortion should be regarded as a universal human right. That the right to abortion is void for men does not implicate the right’s universality: every person who gets pregnant should have the right to abort.

In contrast, my position on Choice for Men is one of advocacy of a policy. I do not construe it as a human right. In particular, I have always argued that it should be contingent upon the practical availability of post-coital birth-control to women, including safe medical abortion. Where this is not available to women, both legally and practically, they should not be left holding the baby that they had no more practical choice to produce than did the man. This lack of universality to any purported C4M “right” forcloses its construction as such, and puts it beyond Amnesty’s remit.

9 Comments »

  1. So, what sort of things are you thinking about in terms of “choices for men”? Better access to existing birth control options for men (ie vasectomy and condoms)? More research into alternative birth control methods for men? I don’t see how anyone could argue with either of those goals. Or is there something more to it?

    Comment by Dianne — December 2, 2006 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

  2. Dianne:
    “Choice for men” is what supporters call a proposal to give a man the ability to opt out of financial responsibility for unplanned pregnancies, provided that he does so in time for the mother to have an abortion and (I believe) that he is not married to her.

    Comment by Brandon Berg — December 2, 2006 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  3. I believe that choice for men is more proof on why this should be a prochoice society. I would like to take this opportunity to point out to you that men can not get pregnant. The majority of people in congress are male. Why are men deciding what women can do with there bodies.

    Comment by Marissa — December 3, 2006 @ 11:14 am | Reply

  4. Dianne:

    Or is there something more to it?

    Brandon has it right, although obviously there is a lot of room for manoeuvre on the details.

    The reasoning is that the practical availability of post-coital birth control, inluding abortion means that birth is no longer an inevitable consequence of the failure of pre-coital and at-coital contraception. It ceases to be the consequence of a shared choice, and becomes the sole choice of the mother. If she chooses to bear a child, she should be responsible for ensuring it is provided for. This does not foreclose the possibility of contracting with the father, (or with someone else) to provide for the child.

    That, in a nutshell is why I support Choice for Men. The point of my post was primarily to draw attention to Amnesty’s consultation on abortion, (Go support it, if you’re a UK member!). This raised the question (in my mind, at least) of whether choice for men should also be construed as a human right. I conclude that it should not be, though I still support it as a policy.

    Comment by Daran — December 3, 2006 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  5. Lord I am tired of people casually advocating vasectomy as a means of birth control. Just because a man doesn’t want a child now does not mean he never will. Vasectomies are not reliably reversible.

    Comment by plunky — December 7, 2006 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

  6. Lord I am tired of people casually advocating vasectomy as a means of birth control. Just because a man doesn’t want a child now does not mean he never will. Vasectomies are not reliably reversible.

    Nobody has suggested that anyone casually vasectomise. It’s an option.

    Comment by Daran — December 7, 2006 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  7. […] is a repost of an article originally posted at Creative Destruction. Comments older than Wednesday 10 January 2007 were originally posted there. See this post for […]

    Pingback by Abortion is a Human Right - Choice for Men isn’t | Feminist Critics — April 30, 2009 @ 7:08 am | Reply

  8. I am in the situation where my ex-girlfriend has recently discovered she is pregnant and is refusing to have an abortion. However, when we were briefly together, she made it clear that she didnt want children, nor do I. Seeing at this stage the abortion treatment wouldnt affect her health or ability to have children in the future, and we were never married nor are we even together, doesnt it seem fair that I should have some say in the abortion. To put things into perspective, I am 22 and she is 34. Her grounds for keeping the child is that she fears she wont have another chance to get pregnant. If that were case, and assuming I could legally and financially separate myself from this unwanted child that was concieved due to failed contraception, I wouldnt mind. However, she has made it clear she will sue for child support, in which case my future is ruined, my dreams of finishing my degree, travelling and working overseas, and raising a young family with a woman I love and wish to marry and build a future is shattered. Shouldnt I have some rights in this situation, my future is ruined otherwise.

    Comment by Evan Grantham — May 29, 2009 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

  9. “I wouldnt mind. However, she has made it clear she will sue for child support, in which case my future is ruined, my dreams of finishing my degree, travelling and working overseas, and raising a young family with a woman I love and wish to marry and build a future is shattered. Shouldnt I have some rights in this situation, my future is ruined otherwise.”

    Your future is ruined? You have got to be kidding me.

    You should have thought of all that before you had sex with her. Man up, take some responsibility and support your child.

    Believe me, you’ll be a better man for it.

    Comment by William — August 21, 2009 @ 8:35 am | Reply


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