“I don’t understand how any man thinks that he has the right to dictate to women what they should do with their body,” said Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, last year. “Men know nothing about what it’s like to be a woman.”
This is a common sentiment. Men don’t get pregnant, so they don’t have a right to an opinion about abortion. Abortion is a women’s issue. As one typical comment on social media puts it: “If you don’t have a uterus then shut up.”
It’s true that men can’t experience pregnancy, childbirth, or abortion. We can never fully know what those experiences are like, and we shouldn’t pretend that we do. We can only try our best to empathize.
But it’s also true that abortion is right or wrong, just or unjust, irrespective of the gender or personal experiences of any particular individual. The truth of a statement (e.g., “abortion is wrong”) is independent of the characteristics of the person who happens to be making the statement. That’s how reality works.
So if abortion is unjust, as millions of women contend (including women who have experienced unplanned pregnancy, childbirth, abortion, and adoption), then it doesn’t cease to be unjust when a man offers the same argument. The argument is still sound. It cannot be dismissed because of a trait of the person advocating it (a mistake in reasoning called the ad hominem fallacy). If defenders of abortion want to refute the pro-life view, they have to actually refute the pro-life view.
The idea behind what Noah and others say seems to be that an individual must be able to have direct experience of something in order to hold a valid opinion about it. But that would mean that infertile women shouldn’t have a say about abortion. It would mean that men who advocate abortion shouldn’t have a say. It would mean that the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that imposed legalized abortion—a ruling decided by seven men—was illegitimate.
Continue reading here.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Paul Stark and originally published at Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).]
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