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The New Guy Line
May 8, 2004
By Kevin Dawson

One nice thing about the Internet is that it allows one to follow several newspapers relatively easily. In response to the recent March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC, there have been a number of letters to the editor opining that, if women have any "choice" at all, they have the choice not to have sex, and thus risk pregnancy, in the first place. Every single one of those letters was written by a man.

Traditionally (and you know how much conservatives love traditions), the purpose of "guy lines" is to coax women to have sex with men, e.g. "Come on, baby, if you love me, you'll show it." It's certainly a noble sentiment to say, "I respect your choice not to have sex," - assuming the man tells the woman this before they have sex - but it's not going to get very many guys laid.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing. If so many males want to go on record as opposing abortion, they at least can do their bit to prevent them. But again traditionally, it's been the other way around: boy meets girl, boy uses guy line, boy (if guy line is successful) gets girl, girl gets pregnant...

Wait a minute. That girl didn't get pregnant spontaneously or coincidentally. So why isn't it "Boy gets girl pregnant?" Unfortunately (for women), men are the ones who tend to run away from an unwanted or inconvenient pregnancy. Thus a new set of guy lines to suit the occasion: "I want nothing to do with it." "I don't need the responsibility." "It's your baby, you deal with it." Even "Get rid of it or I'll never touch you again." Ironically, many of the recent letters to the editor have brought up "the poor father" of the aborted fetus. "I Wanted the Baby, She Didn't" sounds like a Jerry Springer topic, except that usually it's the other way around.

This, of course, is why males, who have been spared this primarily biological dilemma (though you've probably heard the old saying that if men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament), should, if they can't bring themselves to support a woman's right to choose her own reproductive destiny, at least be neutral on the controversial subject, conceding that they can never be completely cognizant of what's at stake here.

To stereotype "pro-choice" women - or men, for that matter - as blithe baby-killers who see abortion as having no more consequence than a nail wrap is as unwarranted and unfair as denying Holy Communion to pro-choice Catholics. (If the Church withheld Communion to every individual whose personal beliefs veered even the slightest bit from the strictest catechism, it would soon be awash with wafers.)

Many "pro-life" therapists, who ethically shouldn't be discussing their patients even indirectly, have written into newspapers sorry accounts of post-abortion stress and depression. The point here seems to be that women don't know any better and must be saved from themselves. Let's credit women with a little more brains than that, shall we?

You'd think there would be some room for finding a common ground. All those Iraq hawks who have assured the rest of us that "Nobody likes war, but..." should be able to understand, even if such understanding amounts to giving one the benefit of the doubt that nobody thinks of abortion as the most fun you can have this side of a theme park.

The NRA crowd, who constantly tell us that you won't make guns disappear by criminalizing them, that they may indeed become less safe, should realize that the same holds true of abortions. (As the late Joan Crawford is supposed to have said, apropos of something else, "No wire hangers!")

It's a sad business, from all points of view. To wax sentimental about the presumed suffering of the unborn is meaningless unless one is equally mindful of the plight of the equally innocent and equally unwanted post-born, who of course will suffer for much longer.

If more men were as eager to assume reproductive responsibility (to a slightly fuller extent than "Don't worry, baby, I'll pull out before I... oops!") as they are to hand out scarlet A's, maybe some of them would understand what the women were marching for recently.

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