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I recently read Ren Brabenec’s opinion article, “Pro-life men should use empathy, not convictions to decide stance on abortion.”

Yes, it’s yet another boring and regurgitated vasectomy argument. Let’s dive in. 

So before I even get into the content of the argument being made here about vasectomies, I’ll just go ahead and ruin it for you — spoiler warning — it’s a bait and switch game. The final message has nothing to do with the headline. It’s a game of deception yet again. We see with other pro-choice advocates that push this type of specific category of deception. Instead of addressing the actual ethical dilemma of pregnancy and abortion, we get things like:

  • Images of animal embryos to trick us
  • A burning IVF clinic to headlock us

Yawn.

Twitter screenshot showing a common pro-choice internet argument: present a photo of a non-human embryo and ask if this should get human rights

This seems to be a possible pattern for Ren who enjoys pointing at something else entirely to ignore the immediate concern. So now that we’ve established the deceitful nature of this opinion article, hopefully, we’ll be able to clearly see through what’s going on here. 

Finally, let’s start. Ren says pretty early in his opinion piece, 

“I’m doing my best to see things from your side. If abortion is murder, if a fetus is human life, we must address the underlying problem that leads to abortion, i.e., unwanted pregnancies.”

Ren unfortunately is not trying to see things from our side here. As you’ll see from the bait and switch at the end, the “obvious” conclusion around abortion is built into this entire opinion article, never once argued for. This is called question-begging. Additionally, he is the assuming that the “underlying problem” that leads to abortion is “unwanted pregnancies.”

If we look at a study done on reasons women get abortions, we can see that it isn’t the “unwantedness” of the pregnancy that’s the problem leading to abortion decisions. Pressure from other people in her life to choose abortion, aborting to try to keep a partner around, and aborting to make other people happy are common reasons women get abortions. Additionally, women report knowing they were making the wrong choice, a choice they did not agree with and would regret when they had an abortion. We need to help women make good decisions and change their minds to not abort.

Ren then states, 

“Thankfully, there is a way you and I can prevent all unwanted pregnancies from occurring! We can create a future in which abortion becomes a thing of the past…

We do this by drafting legislation that mandates vasectomies for all males once they reach puberty. Before such vasectomies, young men can donate to sperm banks, preserving their seed for future child rearing.”

You don’t like abortions? It’s MURDER you say? Well, I found a solution! Just help Ren pass legislation to make vasectomies mandatory at puberty. Before this, young boys can go to sperm banks to preserve their seed for future potential pregnancies. Wanted ones, of course. 

And here we have his (disingenuous) reasoning:

If all men of breeding age receive vasectomies, there will never again be an unwanted pregnancy, never again an abortion.” 

He has crafted a response to entirely place the blame on only one of the two individuals needed for sexual intercourse and conception. Remember kids, you need sperm AND egg for successful fertilization.

You have to love the attempt he makes to convince us that somehow mandating vasectomies will eventually make all our foster care programs in the country disappear because…(trying not to laugh)…there will be “no more unwanted children to be adopted.” (laughs anyways)

You guys. He’s confusing adoption and foster care.

Not to mention that Ren doesn’t understand the purpose of foster care and family services. A quick glance here tells us that these children are not unwanted; they are removed, “as the result of maltreatment, lack of care, or lack of supervision.”

Ren makes a few more ridiculous claims before proceeding with his bait-and-switch. 

For example, he says, “Under this program, the maiming and death of women via back-alley abortions will end.”

But this really was never a thing, Ren. Women were not dying in some epidemic of “back-alley abortions.”

The amount of claims he makes with no references, sources, or evidence is just staggering. I wouldn’t want to, either — that’s heavy lifting.

He goes on to claim that with mandatory vasectomies, men and women can enjoy “worry-free sex” and men no longer have to fear causing unwanted pregnancies and being held financially liable for the child they created.

Except…it’s not just men that create pregnancies, unwanted or not. It’s kind of sad that we have to go back to the birds and the bees here, but when male sperm successfully fertilizes a female egg, both die to give rise to a new human organism. This is basic embryology. 

Then Ren gets to the meat and potatoes of his bait-and switch:

“But I ask you, do you want to live in a country where the State has that much power to control men’s bodies?

Do you want your sons to live under such a system?

No?

If the thought of state-mandated vasectomy makes men like us squirm in our seats, why would we consent to state-mandated births or state-controlled uteruses?

Or should you and I instead advocate for a society in which Americans—male and female alike—have autonomy over their bodies, make their own reproductive decisions, and control their own destinies?”

Ah, here we go. It was never about vasectomies; it was about tricking you into empathy and never discussing your convictions.

Ren, we see you buddy.

We have a lot to discuss what’s wrong here, so let’s dive in. 

Do I want to live in a country where the State has that much power to control men’s bodies? No. Because men are not housing, nourishing, and birthing human beings. The focus is on pregnant mothers and the ethical dilemma that exists exclusively there. Take it up with nature. 

The only thing that makes me squirm (cringe, honestly) is your deceitfulness and incredibly horrendous ability to reason…because this is an incredibly bad comparison here. We want to restrict abortion because of what abortion is and what it does to someone in-utero. 

I advocate for a society in which all Americans have autonomy over their bodies and the consequences that come from choices made with their bodies and accepting responsibility for children they create from those choices. You know — the ones that have already been reproduced?

Okay so now that we’ve gone through that mess, let’s discuss his proposal of mandatory vasectomy. Let’s concede for the sake of argument that I accept all of his demands supporting legislation mandating this procedure. Will Ren now help restrict elective abortion? Nope.

Now let’s discuss the problems with mandating vasectomies (even though his proposal was a parody bait and switch disguised as empathy for pregnant mothers). First of all, vasectomies are not meant to be reversed. They are meant to be permanent. See Planned Parenthood’s own website.

Also, why would someone who is opposed to mandating forced procedures or who is in favor of preserving bodily autonomy and body sovereignty propose such an outlandish idea? Restricting abortion does not mandate a woman to do anything. Again, the comparison does not work. 

With mandatory vasectomies should come mandatory tubal ligations. I mean, after all, we should have some equality. Remember, if you really want to stop abortion at its source (which he thinks are unwanted pregnancies), why only stop half the possible source when you can go after both men and women to cover all of the sources? Be consistent, Ren.

With this plan, if the husband and wife consented to reversals of their sterilizations and the woman then became pregnant but subsequently decided she didn’t want to be, would he support restricting abortion for her? Wait,  I thought he said this method would completely abolish unwanted pregnancies? Oh, dear. 

So there we go, not only did we discover that the very fake plan for mandated vasectomies would never work in a worldview in favor of bodily autonomy (and I agree), we realize these procedures are not meant to be reversed, and only would focus unequally on half the source (men).

Ren, if you ever want to sincerely “see things” from our side, please hit me up. There are better ways of dismantling the pro-life position. There are plenty of resources out there to give you wisdom into your own position. I’d suggest David Boonin or Peter Singer to start. You managed to write an entire article wasting your time being disingenuous about something you would never support. You never actually brought up the concerns of pro-lifers other than the assumption that we think abortion is murder. This is so lazy, and you can certainly do better.

Photo by Nick Demou from Pexels

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.