Do men have rights in abortion? by Claude Mills Featured
However, Ian's joy was short-lived (no pun intended) because two days later, he showed up on the corner, sullen and angry.
His friends asked him what was the matter. He responded: "Jah know, she kill me yute star!"
That would have been his first child.
Believe it or not, this is a common experience for many Jamaican males. Boy meets girl. Love blooms. Hugs and smiles. Next comes intimacy's delicious embrace.
But then, something happens a missed pill, a broken condom, the one-in-a-million failure of the sponge - and she's pregnant. What happens, then?
"It's like women have a right to kill... it's their body. She comes in and says 'honey, we're pregnant, but I'm having an abortion'. What about my rights? Even if I want the child but she doesn't, I cannot become a father. If she chooses to bring the child to term, I become a father. All the choices are hers. The man has no choice in the matter... but men should have a say," one young man said.
It is the politics of reproduction, a moral quandary, not to mention a legal dilemma as well: bilateral consent, unilateral choice.
Should men have the same reproductive rights as women? Should men be allowed to become parents against their will?
"A man's rights are restricted to a great extent by his biology. There should be some amount of equity, and a man should have a right to have a child or to not have the child if he so desires, but the reality is that most women don't think that a man will be responsible and so the decision falls on her, really," Dr. Glenda Simms
"It is challenging for men, especially in a society where masculinity is defined by an ability to reproduce, with fatherhood being a matter of status for a young male even though he doesn't know how to be a father yet," Dr. Simms said.
But what if the scenario is such that the father wants the child and the woman doesn't, whose so-called 'rights' take precedence?
"If it were his body, he would have a say, but no one has the right to tell another person what to do with their body. A man cannot compel a woman to have a child or to have an abortion. If things don't work out with that lady, a man should move on with his life, there are other women out there...the alternative is a sort of rape," journalist John Maxwell said.
Women tend to agree with Maxwell. The decision to abort or not, is essentially a woman's choice.
"No... until men can get pregnant they should keep their mouths shut, it's a woman's decision," one woman said, vehemently.
"If a woman is pregnant, she considers her pregnancy a financial and physical handicap. She has a genuine fear of becoming a social pariah, a burden on her family (if she is a teenager) as she may not be able to support the baby. The result is that many of the women in their teens and twenties resolve their personal dilemma by choosing abortion over uncertainty and possible poverty."
Still, some men continue to enjoy carte blanche when it comes to reproductive rights through force, coercion or brute economics.
"It is not a debate for me. I am the man, I am in control. If I want the youth, she has to have it. And if I don't want the yute, she can't have it or is war, her life a go miserable. If she play tough, you can always find a way fi trick her, carry her go doctor, inject her and mek she pass it out. After she get fixed, we can deal again," one man who requested anonymity, said.
While the above mentioned case may seem a bit mercenary it underlines the reality that a man who is the major breadwinner for the household does, for the most part, control reproductive rights.
Public Defender Howard Hamilton weighed in with his own analysis.
"A man cannot want to exercise his rights over a woman's. The law entitles us to constitutional rights, and they are to be respected as long as they don't infringe on the rights of another person. It is reprehensible to even consider a man even forcing a woman to have or not to have an abortion against her will," he said.
According to psychologists, many men avoid dealing with abortions because they are reluctant to get involved in a situation where they are powerless and impotent.
In a study conducted by Arthur Shostak, a Professor of Sociology at Drexel University, it was discovered that a significant number of men experienced anxiety and high level of personal distress about abortions. An overwhelming proportion of them had thoughts about the foetus, had dreamt about the child that would not be and anticipated misgivings after the abortion. Ninety-eight per cent said that if they could help it, they would never find themselves in such a situation again.
"It makes you re-think certain things. It hurt me when a girl aborted a child for me once. I wasn't ready, she wasn't ready. I was confused, unsure of what I wanted and she went ahead and did it, anyway. After that, the relationship wasn't the same; I haven't been the same since," one young man said.
Leave a comment
Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.