I’ve met a lot of cis men with the capacity understand that they are allowed to have an opinion on and discuss abortion whilst also realising that the voices of those who have wombs should be firmly prioritised, whose opinions are worth far, far more. I’ve also met a lot of men who can’t comprehend this at all.
You are not being silenced when you are told that you should not take centre stage in a discussion of an issue that will never directly affect your body. But time again, you see this strange cry, the call of the terribly hard-done-by straight white cis man to his brethren, (almost any issue affecting a minority can be inserted into this) : ‘I’ll talk about x whenever I want, I don’t care what you say, because I’m allowed my own opinion.’ In abortion discussions, it’s a glorious display of letting women know you couldn’t give less of a shit about their opinions – often backed up by actual experience – whilst demanding that everyone not only respect, but actively listen to yours. It might be worth noting, here, that a person talking from real lived experience and an elephant farting both make a sound, but perhaps only one is worth listening to.
Abortion is something I don’t have the luxury of sparing a passing thought to when I see an article online about it. It is a real and ever-present issue for me and for many others with uteruses. Any discussion of abortion amongst powerful people has the potential to directly impact my body, my choices and my life. Donald Trump suggesting that women who have abortions should be punished, the Polish government deciding to outlaw abortion in any circumstance (though they did a spectacular U-turn on this after protests) scares me to my core. I’m lucky enough to live in a country in which abortion is accessible – a country to which women just across the Irish Sea travel to exercise something that should be their right: control over their bodies. But I also live in a country in which pro-life protestors stand outside abortion clinics, threatening and intimidating women, holding up gruesome placards. Across the pond, doctors who perform abortions in certain states have been targeted and assassinated. Women have paid for the reproductive policies written by men with their lives. The thought that I might, like so many women, end up being forced to carry a child to term makes me feel helpless, terrified – selfishly for myself, and for them.
Cisgender men: When you weigh in on abortion, keep in mind: for you, it is a topic, to discuss when it crops up. For me, it is my body, my personhood, and my life.