If you’re a pro-life man, imagine hearing this familiar statement: “You’re a man! You can’t have an opinion on abortion because you can’t get pregnant!”
How does this ad hominem refute the claim that abortion takes an innocent human life? It doesn’t.
While the anatomic impossibility of men experiencing pregnancy may be true, this is irrelevant to your arguments regarding unborn life. Unfortunately, most pro-choice advocates often don’t see it this way. The person who attempts to exclude you from the debate likely assumes that if you don’t have first-hand knowledge of a pregnant woman’s situation, then you can’t have an opinion on her decisions.
The flaws behind this reasoning become apparent when you consider how Roe v. Wade does not meet this standard, as it was decided by men. It’s also unlikely that pro-choice advocates will champion the dismissal of male Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) workers. Why does supporting abortion suddenly make your opinion on the issue relevant?
A pro-choice woman who criticizes you for being pro-life may be concerned that you’re speaking for women when you cannot relate to a female-specific condition. But don’t pro-life women use the same arguments against abortion? The focus she has on your gender avoids answering the question about the unborn’s humanity, and it does nothing to defend her position against yours.
Pro-life apologist, Josh Brahm, acknowledges that, while the argument about his male identity invalidating his abortion stance is one of the weaker pro-choice talking points, it’s one of the hardest to respond to without coming across as unsympathetic. The way a pro-life man handles this objection often determines the outcome of the conversation. Brahm says how pointing to the obvious ad hominem fallacy, while justified, often leads to the other person “huff[ing] and puff[ing] while storming off.”
What is the purpose of your discussion? Is your goal to win the debate? In this case, the conversation is typically not about finding common ground, but establishing yourself as an expert on the subject. But if your goal is to be relational, you’ll probably want your critic to understand why a man might oppose abortion.
Brahm has dialogued with abortion-choice supporters on a variety of platforms. When answering to opposition of him being a pro-life man, he establishes a relationship with the person he’s dialoguing with about abortion. Conceding that he can never know what it’s like to be pregnant, Brahm may use the personal example of going through the pain of a miscarriage alongside his wife. This forms a connection that helps the other person see him as human.
After clarifying the argument, Brahm creates understanding about the necessity of making judgements, even if the situation is not tied to a personal experience. Bringing up postpartum depression, a condition that, like pregnancy, can only happen to women, Brahm admits he knows it’s impossible for him to have depression in this form. But then he’ll ask if this means he cannot reason it was wrong for Andrea Yates to drown her children in the bathtub while suffering from it?
Fellow apologist, Timothy Brahm, highlights this point through a simple thought-experiment. He asks the person he’s dialoguing with to imagine a man witnessing a mother with postpartum depression pushing a car into a lake, her two-year-old child in the backseat. While a man can never have a full understanding of the struggles of being postpartum, it’s reasonable to argue he should do something to rescue the child.
This ties into why men can be pro-life. Each unborn baby is a human being, and it’s important for the other person to consider why you think their lives are worth saving. While every conversation is different, this thought-experiment at least helps the other person understand your position, even if they disagree. However, some pro-choice people may still be wary of your motives.
It may be worth telling them you believe men and women are equally valuable. They’re both human, and their worth is not defined by surface traits. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been pregnant or had an abortion, as what’s relevant morally is their human nature. This belief that species membership grants moral value not only ties to the pro-life argument about it not coming from acquired traits, but exposes the sexism behind the attempt to silence men on abortion.
A pro-choice individual must still offer facts and logical arguments to defend their support of abortion, as personal attacks do not justify their claim. Calling attention to your gender does not free them from the responsibility of presenting evidence that demonstrates why abortion is not immoral. By focusing the discussion on the main issue, there’s a potential for it to be more productive, as she’ll have to clarify why she’s pro-choice. Then you can begin to show her why someone might disagree.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.