To reduce abortion, hold men equally responsible

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Re: “Women deserve better options than abortion,” by Susan Bane, June 28:

It was a true pleasure to read Dr. Bane’s intelligent, and as she described it, empathetic response to Dr. Scarra’s letter regarding reproductive rights. I read the whole column and have reread it several times since. It was dazzling in its organization, reasoned approach, use of memorable quotes from important people; and, leading with the softness of empathy gave it a perspective that just made me want to endorse her every word. It was so different from the usual irrational, vitriolic responses of the radical right, a difference that gave it credibility.

I believe too that the options Dr. Bane presented are better than abortion. These ideas are not new. Those of us who work in human service have been advocating for these same options over the last half century. The cry to be proactive rather than just reactive has been loud and clear throughout the span of my career of almost 40 years, but that cry has most often fallen on legislative deaf ears. We have never made a legislative commitment at the state or national level to adequately deal with the circumstances that lead to abortion, as we never have been realistic with efforts to deal with poverty. It goes without saying that we certainly aren’t doing it now. In fact, we are moving in the opposite direction!

But let’s keep up the effort to do the right things and once again try to marshal our forces and lobby our legislators and Congress for those things Dr. Bane suggested. They are all sound and research-validated options. However, I think Dr. Bane overlooked a most obvious option that needs to be added to the list. Let’s demand that men who impregnate women are held responsible for their behavior choices, just as women are expected to when they have to carry and raise a child for a lifetime. Only then, when men are held to the same standard as women, can there be true equality. Equality of rights also requires equality of responsibility.

Abortion is always going to be a reality among humans throughout the earth. In our country we can choose to ignore the systemic issues of which high rates of abortion is one of the symptoms, or we can use tunnel vision and label it just a moral issue. It’s so much easier that way, and surely there are many who will choose the easy way, effective or not. Unfortunately, such is the state of our union and the example of our majority leaders.

Nancy Nichols Hawley