Saturday, February 11, 2006

RU-486? Males can butt out!

In the RU-486 debate, a disturbing point of view has been widely expressed, viz. that reproduction of the species is a female only affair: males should butt out. In a letter in this morning’s edition of The AGE, Liz Conor expresses this idea concisely while neatly combining it with a related notion that those with religious convictions share the same disqualification: “Come on Tony [Abbott], as if this isn't about you being a Catholic and a male.”

Lyn Allison, the Democrat leader, also believes that RU-486 is a gender issue. After the Senate debate, she rejoiced that the vote was "overwhelmingly carried by women", while “the case against was largely that of men, and men in the Coalition party."

The implication: only the female of the species has a moral right to express an opinion about the future propagation of the human race.

Another Senator, Liberal Judith Troeth, said that the success of the private members bill (brought by five cross-party female senators) shows “that women can unite on things that matter to them, and choice is what matters to us," she said.

There are shades of the same thought in Kate Mannix’s article in Online Opinion “Pro-choice and Catholic: a mother’s story”.

I really feel sorry about the reaction of her “wonderful priest” to her new-born daughter. I’ve met priests like that—for that matter, I’ve met men and women in and out of the church who have either an aversion to children or no interest in them. On the other hand, I have seen celibate male clergy go quite gooey over babies at times…

I also acknowledge that, regrettably, the greater part of the burden of parenthood still routinely falls upon the mother.

Nevertheless, I cannot accept her implication that men have no place in the debate over the ethics of abortion, or that the choice of whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy belongs 100% to the pregnant woman herself.

OK. Lets have a bit of “purification of reason” here.

I grant that if the RU-486 issue is about “choice”, and that if the outcome of that choice affects only the woman who exercises that choice and no-one else, then this should be a “women’s issue” and men should “butt out”.

But it isn’t just about “choice”, is it? Nor is it just “about women”. The unborn child, the father of the child, our society and culture, and the human race as a whole is affected by the “choice” that some women wish to exercise in the area of “reproductive rights”.

Men, even religious men, have a right to speak and to be heard because this issue affects them too.

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