An important perspective from USA TODAY and lawyer Thomas Wheatley
As a person who is strongly pro-life, I welcome nearly all efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and eradicate abortion from our country. These legislative initiatives are long overdue, and I remain confident that abortion, much like slavery, will one day be regarded as a terrible blight on our nation’s character.
Yet a comprehensive life-affirming culture demands more than simply abolishing abortion. We must also restore the original support system that made it safe for women to choose life in the first place. In this respect, I’m greatly disappointed by the pro-life movement’s languid approach to emphasizing the other, equally crucial part of the pro-life equation: fatherhood.
The arguments against banning abortion often reflect fear, frustration and desperation — not support for abortion as a positive good. Most notably, pro-choice advocates lament the lack of support for expectant mothers. They deride the absence of free health care, free child care and compulsory paid maternal leave. They even go so far as to call pro-life advocates hypocrites, saying that if people like myself really cared about sparing the unborn, we’d make it our priority to support women making the journey to motherhood alone.
Their argument is fundamentally correct (although their solutions are gravely harmful). Unwanted pregnancy is not a disease, nor is it remedied by the moral hazard wrought by additional government assistance programs. Restoring fatherhood — nature’s built-in complement to motherhood — is what is needed. And it starts by expecting more, legally and socially, from our men.
At the outset, we should recognize that it takes two to create life and that both parents share in the responsibility to provide for their children. We often hear, for example, of schemes to make abortion a crime for which the mother or doctor should be punished. But when was the last time someone proposed the same for men who father unplanned children?
When was the last time an absent father faced consequences — be it in the form of physical scarring, loss of career advancement or loss of social status — that matched those of a single mother? When was the last time an absent father had to endure the humiliating and disapproving stares of random passersby, or the hurtful comments of someone who has no idea how hard it is for one person to do a two-person job?…
…When young men are incessantly told that the pinnacle of manhood is eating, sleeping and ejaculating, is it really so surprising when they shy away from defined gender roles of a higher calling?
We must demand more. Changing social norms is a start.