How Abortion Enables Abusive Men | Opinion

Texas' new heartbeat law, SB8, doesn't sit well with the abortion industry. Protecting life in the womb never does.

But it isn't just the abortion industry that's in uproar; countless prominent voices in our culture are leveraging this moment to push pro-abortion narratives.

Since SB8 went into effect in September, several congresswomen and other public figures have come forward to tell their abortion stories. They spoke of feeling alone, of feeling scared, of feeling hurt; they said their abortions caused them intense shame, even grief. But somehow, they presented these stories of suffering and sadness as arguments for, not against, the act of abortion.

One story in particular caught my attention, and gave me pause for serious reflection. Uma Thurman, the famous actress, wrote a piece for the Washington Post describing her story of procuring an abortion as a teenager. And although the story was meant to highlight how abortion helped and empowered her, what it really shows is how abortion enables men to neglect, abuse and take advantage of women.

Thurman's story is truly heartbreaking. It isn't the story of a woman who was rescued from hardship by killing her preborn child; it's the story of a woman driven by the bad behavior of men to feel abortion was her only option.

Every step of the way, Thurman describes the men who played a role in her decision to abort—from the much older man who impregnated her when she was just a girl to the father who had never discussed sex with her and sternly warned her not to keep her child. And then there's the male abortionist who offered her consolation while still ending the life of her preborn baby without remorse. And of course, there's the unspoken part played by all the men in her professional life who likely communicated that her career would be over if she became a mother at such a young age.

abortion protest
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 02: Crowds gather in Foley Square for the Women's March on October 2, 2021 in New York City. The Women's March and other groups organized marches across the country to protest the new abortion law in Texas. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

As I read this story, I of course saw Thurman's pain and recognized its validity. But I also saw how numerous men in her life used abortion as a tool, and not for her empowerment. Sexualized and pursued by older men while she was just a teenager, alone in a foreign land, separated from her family, Thurman needed support, care and guidance. What she got was pressure on all sides to get an abortion.

Uma Thurman's story is telling. It reveals the dark truth behind abortion: that it enables a culture of sexual abuse and relationship dysfunction that always terminates in heartbreak, sadness, shame and injury. The abortion industry doesn't want us to think holistically about sex and pregnancy; it wants us to sexualize women while pathologizing motherhood, to adulate abortion providers while ignoring the circumstances that lead to abortion—circumstances that could, and should, have been different.

Here's the problem, as I see it: behind every pregnancy there's always at least one man, and all too often, abortion obscures his role in creating conditions wherein a woman feels that abortion is her only option. What's worse, by treating abortion like a quick fix for pregnancy, the abortion industry, and the pro-choice narrative that protects it, indirectly support the men who create these conditions—conditions of neglect, loneliness and sorrow.

Abortion, in short, disempowers women by empowering men to exploit them sexually, professionally or personally without fear of consequences or responsibility.

The stories being told about abortion should make us ask some tough questions, questions that it seems our culture doesn't want us to ask. If a man was pouring love and support into the life of the mother of his preborn child, would that mother feel pressured to get an abortion? The abortion industry wants women to fear pregnancy—fear how it might change their dating lives, their job life, their family life. But isn't that fear all too often rooted in the absence of men who are standing up and taking responsibility?

I wonder if Uma Thurman's situation would have ended differently if her father had said, "Your mom and I will support you in having this baby, even in the midst of difficulty." Would the situation have been different if the man who impregnated her had done better for her before the pregnancy even came to be? Shouldn't he be held to account for sexualizing and taking advantage of her as a teenager?

These are the questions we have to start asking, and the conversation we have to start having, whenever we talk about abortion. Abortions almost always occur against a backdrop of distrust, confusion, doubt, uncertainty and hardship. What role do men play in creating these conditions, and what role can they play in healing them?

Benjamin Watson is a former Super Bowl champion and NFL tight end. He is the current vice president of strategic relationships with Human Coalition, a pro-life organization that operates several telehealth and in-person women's care clinics.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.