Last summer, I was privileged to listen in on two fascinating online debates between pro-life and pro-choice activists.
The first debate was hosted by Harvard Right to Life and Massachusetts Citizens for Life. It featured Stephanie Gray Connors, an astoundingly articulate pro-life activist, gifted apologist, published author, and founder of the Love Unleashes Life ministry. The pro-choice representative was infamous ethicist Dr. Peter Singer, who is often known for his controversial comments about disabilities, including asserting that parents should be permitted to euthanize children with disabilities like Down Syndrome and spina bifida.
The second debate was a joint effort by three student clubs—the Health and Medical Law Society, Students for Free Speech York U, and Youth Protecting Youth—at York University. Maaike Rosendal, who works for the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, similarly did an extraordinary job communicating the pro-life position with compassion, clarity, and conviction. The pro-choice representative was Dr. Fraser Fellows, a now retired late-term abortionist.
While I of course appreciated the lengthy and in-depth debate, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a clear gender division. In both debates, the pro-life movement was represented by a female speaker and the pro-choice movement was represented by a male speaker. This seems to run completely contrary to the mainstream mythology that the pro-life movement is filled with grouchy old Catholic men wanting to force their beliefs and rosaries onto women (seen, for instance, in the “keep your rosaries off my ovaries” chant) and that the pro-choice movement is filled with female feminists who are resisting male oppression (see, for example, the “no uterus, no opinion” slogan).
I do not find the fact that these debates featured female pro-life speakers and male pro-choice speakers as inherently problematic or particularly surprising. As someone who has been involved with pro-life activism for over a decade, my experience with the abortion debate is that women make up the vast majority of the pro-life movement (contrary to the stereotypes peddled by abortion advocates). And, as someone who has been a student of this issue for the better part of 13 years, I’m also very alive to the fact that men have been intimately involved in promulgating and perpetuating the practice of abortion (including the all-male group of judges in the Supreme Court of the United States Roe v Wade decision, the mostly male group of judges in the Supreme Court of Canada R v Morgentaler decision, the mostly male politicians who will have crafted the permissive abortion regime in Canada, and the many male abortionists who have performed countless abortions over the course of their careers – including the venerable Henry Morgentaler himself).
And so, we return to these two debates. I think these two debates make it quite clear that there is no such thing as the mythical anti-abortion male mob seeking to enslave the bodies of the pro-abortion female freedom fighters. Stephanie Gray Connors and Maaike Rosendal are eloquent, articulate, and passionate pro-life women who have committed their lives to being a voice for the pre-born, including taking a stand in public debates against the pro-choice men who seek to preserve the status quo on abortion.
In short, contrary to how pro-choice activists and pro-abortion feminists have tried to frame this debate, there are women and men on both sides of the issue. To frame the issue of abortion as being about women only—women’s rights, women’s interests, and women’s efforts—is patently untrue and deliberately misrepresentative of the depth and breadth of the issue.
I am not someone who believes that only women should have a voice on the issue of abortion, which has severe consequences on men and women across the country.
If there can be pro-choice men like Dr. Peter Singer who defend abortion access and pro-abortion men like Dr. Fraser Fellows who perform abortions, then there can also be pro-life men who work to protect vulnerable pre-born children and promote a culture of life.
This is not simply a woman’s issue. It is ultimately a human issue.
This is not simply about women’s rights. It is ultimately about human rights.