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In the world of social media, it’s almost a self-evident truth that bad arguments will get a wider audience than good ones. 

A popular thought experiment making the rounds is no exception. In a recent article for The Tennesean, Guest Columnist Ren Brabenec poses this question to pro-lifers:

“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?”

Brabenec then goes on to offer a thought experiment. If we pro-lifers are opposed to abortion because we see it as murder, then we should be doing more to address the underlying causes of abortion. Writes Brabenec

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, ie., unwanted pregnancies.”

Brabenec’s solution? State mandated vasectomies for men. 

Brabenec goes on to list a whole host of benefits he sees from requiring sexually mature males to get vasectomized. After all, if we want to see a drop in unplanned pregnancies and abortion, why wouldn’t we want to address the underlying cause? The economy will get better. Crime will drop. And women won’t die from back alley abortion procedures. 

Brabenec then finishes his piece with a question:

“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?”

As stated above, Brabenec claims he is doing his best to see things from the pro-life point of view. He sees the pro-life position as inherently hypocritical. After all, if pro-lifers are willing to make demands of women’s bodies, then shouldn’t we also make equal demands of the bodies of men?

A closer examination of his argument reveals Brabenec isn’t being honest about trying to see things from our point of view. He needs to try harder.

Brabenec’s analogy fails for a pretty simple reason: The pro-life position does not require women to undergo a surgical procedure. Rather, pro-life advocates are trying to pass laws prohibiting a particular elective surgical procedure. Brabenec, and those who make similar silly assertions, miss this point entirely. They would be right in pointing out hypocrisy if pro-lifers were trying to mandate female sterlization procedures in order to prevent unplanned pregnancies and abortions. Given pro-lifers are not doing this, it’s hard to see how Brabenec can honestly find an adequate comparison. His concept isn’t profound; it’s lazy. 

Second, Brabenec is missing the point when it comes to opposition to abortion. Let’s review the pro-life argument:

  1. It’s wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
  2. Elective abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.
  3. Therefore, elective abortion is wrong. 

Pro-lifers don’t appeal to religious texts to back up our claim abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. The science of embryology settled this question ages ago. And deep down, we know there is no essential difference between the adults we are today and the unborn children we once were, which would have justified ending our lives then, but not now. We know abortion is killing. Abortionists themselves admit they are engaged in killing. 

Brabenec never explains in his piece where the essential pro-life argument goes wrong. Instead, he ignored it entirely. If he wants to show how the pro-life position is flawed, then he needs to address our essential argument. Instead, he turns the issue into one of character, and claims pro-life men(like me) are not being empathetic to women. 

So I have a question for Brabenec. Which group of men are more likely to cause an unplanned pregnancy likely to result in abortion: Pro-life, or pro-choice men?

We all know the answer. Every single time I talk to a man who supports abortion, he admits to me he is having sex with women he has no intention of fathering a child with. I have yet to hear the same from a pro-life man. The reason is simple: Pro-lifers actually do believe abortion unjustly ends a human life, and we are not going to put anyone in a situation where that is going to be an option. 

There is nothing masculine about supporting abortion. As a man, if you support abortion while knowing full well what abortion does to another human being, what you are saying is the life of your own son or daughter is worthless compared to your sex life. 

It is the good men throughout history who have used our strength and abilities to protect children and women from those wishing them harm. It is the evil men of history who choose to harm others to advance their own desires, or worse, to stand by and do nothing so we can uphold our own selfish desires. 

Lastly, the remark about state-mandated pregnancy needs to be addressed. It’s dishonest to claim pro-lifers are in favor of state-mandated pregnancies. No pro-life advocate wants any woman to become pregnant against their will. There’s a reason pro-lifers will often also advocate sexual responsibility, such as not sleeping with someone until you’re committed to that person for life through marriage. Rather, we are saying you shouldn’t end your pregnancy by intentionally killing your own son or daughter. 

No one is advocating for “state-mandated” uteruses either. What we’re saying is no one should be killed just because they happen to be inside a uterus. Under a pro-life law, no one is mandated to become pregnant; they are prohibited from killing another human being. On another matter, it’s worth mentioning everyone is in favor of at least some restrictions on the bodily actions of other human beings. Few people will complain about laws prohibiting urinating or defecating in public, even though these do place limits on what other people can do with their bodies. The reason is we all know that not all choices people make regarding their bodies are necessarily good ones. This is especially true when it comes to matters involving life and death.  

In addition, it’s not wrong for the state to require certain behaviors of it’s citizenry, especially behaviors which fulfill the most basic obligations we have as human beings. Everyone expects parents to meet the most basic needs of their children, and at the very least, to not kill them. A parent who refuses to meet the most basic needs of their children is not a moral hero, they’re a moral monster. No one would take seriously a person who complained they are a “State-mandated parent” for being required to provide food and clothing for their child after birth. If anything, everyone should condemn such a self-centered remark, because we expect better of adults. Similarly, it’s not an outrageous concept to expect a parent to meet the most basic needs of their children before birth, needs the parent is more than capable of fulfilling. Or, even more basically, for a parent to refrain from having their child killed. This is basic moral decency. 

Pro-life men are not hypocrites for refusing to obtain vasectomies. Critics who suggest otherwise are not honestly seeking truth; they’re seeking excuses to avoid having to deal with the reality that abortion kills innocent boys and girls. 

Photo by Mieke Campbell on Unsplash

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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.