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Let’s have an adult conversation about abortion

When it comes to the whole Roe v. Wade controversy, one group of voices is conspicuously absent: the men who wanted, needed and relied on their partner’s freedom to end a pregnancy by choice. It’s time for them to speak up, too.

While women don’t need men telling them what to do with their own bodies, it would certainly help if the millions of guys who’ve personally benefited from their freedom would say so.

Apart from the emotional responsibility of parenthood, raising a child costs the average American family almost $250,000, not including post-secondary education. That’s a lot of lettuce. The men whose futures were secured by women exercising their reproductive rights should step up to defend them now because that bill just came due.

Meanwhile, can we get real for just a minute and talk about sex and pregnancy as if we’re adult humans with real life experience and not children reading about it in books?

Because for most people, almost all of the time, sex isn’t a solemn, sober act sanctified by an old bearded guy in the clouds (which is extremely weird, if you think about it). Nor, most of the time, is it violent, non-consensual or incestuous.

Sex is natural, highly entertaining, healthy and fun. We are biologically coded to reproduce by means of a nearly irresistible sex drive that, especially (though not exclusively) for the young, is a rollicking good time. We take it like ducks to water, and for exactly the same reason: the survival of our species.

Some people only have sex within marriage, but most people don’t, or didn’t always. Sometimes people have sex drunk or high. Sometimes people do it with people they don’t even know or with people who are “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”

Biology can twist us into pretzels, just for the hell of it. That’s human nature. What’s also human nature is that it takes constant effort and vigilance to stop our bodies from accidentally reproducing. Surprising no one, abortion is primarily needed and sought by young women.

I mean, everybody knows all this. But the Christian right has done such a con job that when it comes to talking about it, common sense and simple humanity fly out the window. We are too often cowed into pretending our private lives are more like Sunday school than Saturday night, which is literally named after a Roman god celebrated with orgies.

Abortion is an extremely common procedure. In America, it’s more common than knee replacement surgery. Roughly 18 per cent of American pregnancies — just under 900,000 — are terminated every year. According to the data, about one woman in four will terminate a pregnancy before the age of 45.

Opinion: Can we get real for just a minute and talk about sex and pregnancy as if we’re adult humans with real life experience, @Garossino writes for @NatObserver on #RoeVWade. #AbortionRightsAreHumanRights

That’s twice as high as her risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Almost 75 per cent of terminations are for young women under 30, and almost 90 per cent occur within the first 12 weeks of gestation.

We don’t realize how common this procedure is because women have been shamed into hiding it.

And then there’s the cost. Just do the math. Eliminating 900,000 terminations multiplied by child-rearing costs of $250,000 adds up to over $200 billion in lifetime financial obligations each and every year, foisted mainly onto young people with no hope of paying for it. Translation: a huge part of that cost will fall to the taxpayer.

Which, if memory serves, is you.

And forget about adoption. There are over six times more abortions than adoptions every year in the United States. If jurisdictions were able to ban abortions instead of criminalizing them, their child welfare systems would collapse. And who gets hurt the most? Kids. Who’s speaking up for them?

We have to stop with the shame and emotion-laden rhetoric. Sex is natural and healthy. Accidents happen. Those who make mistakes deserve understanding, support and a second chance. Society relies on these second chances far more than most of us realize.

Want to see more homeless and hungry kids? Ban abortion. Want to burden young people with even more financial obligations than they already carry? Ban abortion. Want your taxes to go up? Ban abortion.

And then there’s this. The Christian right, which claims to love freedom, has no interest in it for anyone else. They want power. Power over our government, power over women and power over all of us.

All of us, whether in Canada or the United States, have a role to play in preventing zealots from hijacking our democratic institutions.

Our ability to enjoy sexuality and control our reproduction is a gift of grace brought to all humanity.

Protect it.

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