Men, I'd like a word
When I moved to New Orleans in 2016, I only really knew one person in town. I quickly joined a co-working space near my apartment to give myself more opportunities to get out and meet people, and by dumb luck, the closest space to home was a community-powered nonprofit focused on incubating local entrepreneurs with the guts to tackle local challenges instead of chasing VC bucks. One of those groups was the New Orleans Abortion Fund.
Being a new guy who was willing to stick around after hours for any social event, I didn’t think twice when they put out an open call to learn more about their annual fundraiser. I thought I was just going to have a slice of pizza and get to know a few of the people I’d seen around the building, but I was affected by the founder’s story, and the community that surrounded her, and agreed to start my own fundraising effort.
We’ve all heard the stats this week about who’s really affected by abortion restrictions, but at that time I hadn’t really had cause to contend with it. I’d moved from a really blue state, and I didn’t know that women in Louisiana had to receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage them from having an abortion, then receive an ultrasound in which the provider must offer to audibly play the fetal heartbeat (if there is one), and then wait 24 hours before the actual procedure is provided (2 trips to a clinic that is not exactly on the corner anymore if it's even in your county). And that was just the psychological warfare in place 5 years ago when abortion was very legal even in conservative strongholds.
At the time, I was the only man in the room. In a sea of women who’d been battling for their right to self-determine long before I stumbled into that info session, I felt out of place, like the guy going through the sword fighting motions just off screen while Xena the warrior princess takes care of business center stage. But I’ve come to realize that that’s our role in this.
Men aren’t leading this one, but we have to be supporters. So if you don’t feel like this is your fight or if it feels like it’s already over, think again. Think back to when then Senator Harris asked Brett Kavanaugh if he could think of “any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?"
It might feel like it’s over, but every attack on our sisters is an opportunity to get involved. Men have to be in this fight, as we do in all causes for minorities and other marginalized groups where the easiest thing to do would be to sit idly, let the flames die down, and continue to benefit from the step up and out of the crosshairs we’ve always enjoyed. Men, I hope you’ll join me for the women you do know, and for the women you don’t who will bear the brunt of these callous decisions.