Stevie Martin | Staff Writer | Friday, 29 May 2015

What Guys Think About Abortion (Highlights From An Eye Opening Study)

What Guys Think About Abortion (Highlights From An Eye Opening Study)

The Debrief: An Australian study asked young guys about their views on abortion, contraception, and responsibility. It was... interesting.

Abortion is an issue affecting people over the world – 25% of the world’s population lives in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, and it’s constantly in the headlines (a good thing – we need to shrink that percentage, and fast). But in the countries where it is, thankfully, legal, it’s still something of a contentious issue.

A women’s issue, obviously, because, erm, we’re the ones who are either pushing a baby out of our vaginas or not pushing a baby out of our vaginas – but the moment you get men involved in the debate, things start to go spiral. Why should they have a say? Should they have a say? What sort of say should they had? How dare they even talk about it, considering it’s a woman's body, and a woman’s choice, etc?

Amid all this, though, men are affected by the decisions women make, because we’re all humans and we all care if a tiny version of us is (or isn’t) walking around the earth and whether we have to (or don’t have to) devote a vast chunk of our earnings towards said tiny version of us. But what do young guys really think about abortion, and the issues surorunding it? 

A recently published article on a study conducted in Australia by Ella Sharp, Juliet Richter and Alison Rutherford looked to discover more about young men’s attitudes towards abortion, whether those attitudes change depending on how long they’ve been in the relationship (duh), their views on contraception, responsibility, decision-making and all that shebang. 

Yeah, obviously the rights lie with the woman (something that’s thankfully reflected in the responses to the study), but it’s pretty illuminating to discover what the guy in the situation is thinking.

Before we have a look at the highlights (the full study can be bought here, and it’s definitely worth a read), it’s worth pointing out that yes, all the men in the study are Australian, or at least living there at the time of the study, and that they’re a self-selecting group of just ten. Anyway, here’s what we found out...

(All names have been changed to protect identities)

They wanted more involvement, the longer the relationship

Sort of makes sense, this. The men generally think they should be involved in both the decision-making process as well as the mother and child, in longer-term relationships. And, with one night stands, they reckoned that the woman would be more likely to want them to be involved if they were in a relationship rather than a one night stand. Fair enough, but obviously not always the case. 

‘I’d be obligated [if in a long-term relationship]. I’d say definitely we are in this together now,’ said Adam. 

They think the contraception responsibility lies with the woman

Sigh. While they want involvement in the process, a lot of the guys don’t seem to take much responsibility for the contraception at all. ‘I don’t think it’s hard to say, ‘No I’m not going to have sex with you if you don’t have a condom,’ says one participant, who clearly hasn’t been peer-pressured by a rampantly horny guy before.

Also, if it’s not hard for a girl to say this, it’s not hard for a guy to wear a condom, is it? But that’s not quite what he’s getting at. The point still stands that contraception lies with the girl, because it scientifically just does. Girls have coils, take the Pill, can do a variety of different things that remove the need for a condom (presuming both have been screened for STIs), and it appears that guys presume girls are just as worried about getting pregnant as they are – so why wouldn’t they be on the Pill? 

The findings showed that, when a girl doesn’t say ‘Put a condom on’, the guy usually assumes she is on the Pill. While some feel like, in that instance, it’s the girl’s responsibility (‘If a girl is not on the Pill she should probably just say something like ‘Do you have a condom’), they also blamed their own gender (‘Guys just don’t think about that kind of shit, because they’re stupid’), while others acknowledged that both would be in the wrong if pregnancy occurred in this way (‘It would be just as much my own fault. It’s my fault for not asking and it’s her fault for not saying she wasn’t on the Pill.’). 

Men are terrified of women lying about the Pill to get pregnant

Because of this ‘in the moment’ assumption that women are probably taking the Pill, and because they usually only have a woman’s word to go by even if they ask, there was a fear of women getting pregnant without the guy’s consent. ‘Sometimes there is [sic] people out there, will do things to get pregnant… he can’t physically say, ‘Oh I want to watch you eat your Pill’ said one guy.

Another added: ‘Obviously she should have sovereignty over her own body and womb… but it’s, um… I suppose you’d be afraid that a girl would get pregnant on purpose. Use it to hold you hostage.’ 

Yeah, but on the other hand, just wear a condom. Problem solved. 

Guys presume women will bring the baby up

But not always for the reasons you’d probably hope. ‘The guy really doesn’t have to go through much, I mean at the end of the day he’ll just have to work for the rest of his life,’ says a participant. This all came from the assumption that the woman would ‘have to stop working’, would ‘not be able to finish her degree’ or ‘be the one that would have to stay at home’.

Annoying, really, considering it’s 2015 and, if you want to be fully involved in the abortion decision, you should probably be fully involved in the baby-raising as well, mate. 

They’re worried about you changing your mind at the last minute

Not necessarily in a ‘I won’t support you’ way, but the guys were just talking honestly about their emotions. ‘Imagine they’d booked in [for an abortion], they’re there… then, “Nup I’m keeping it,”’ says one participant. ‘And I had my heart set on – oh, lets get you an abortion, like you’ll be fine, we’ll move on from this to the rest of our lives, then all of a sudden… it would be pretty hectic.’

Well, yes. Fair enough, it would be pretty ‘hectic. The guys felt that if the woman didn’t involve them in the process, they’d feel undervalued. As Evan, who had a one-night stand with a woman who didn’t tell him her decision, but later had an abortion said: ‘She was like – nah I’m going to look after it. And I was like, Well if you’re going to have a baby, I need to kind of have a say in it seeing as it would be meaning I would be implicated.’

Sounds like a crime. But yes, best not to leave someone hanging as to whether you’ve had an abortion, or they’re a father – that’s just called Being Polite. 

They’re aware of how shitty abandoning the mother and baby would be

The guys were concerned with looking like a prick versus doing the right thing – but this is all affected by how long they’ve been in the relationship, whether they’re even in a relationship, and prior experience with abortion.  

‘I was happy to suck it up and deal with the consequences… So I was ready to go back and start working properly. All I could think about was, well not like my life is ruined, but how different my life would be,’ one says.

Another adds:  ‘I just lost it, you know I was sitting in the waiting room and I’m thinking, “Oh my God, there is so much I want to do in my life before like I want to have kids.”’ 

It’s so easy to look down on this, and be all ‘ER YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE BIRTH TO IT’, but to completely disregard men in the world of unplanned pregnancy is narrow-minded and a bit crazy. Of course, they’re affected, emotionally. 

They’re aware of the single mother stigma, too

One participant spoke about a friend who experienced an unplanned pregnancy during his gap year: ‘He didn’t really cop any flak, I guess the girl kind of copped it, you know everyone was calling her Juno, I mean no one’s calling him names. It’s a bit rough, I reckon.’ 

Keeping the baby after a one-night stand is a thorny issue 

A lot of them feel like they shouldn’t have to pay child support if they didn’t want the baby in the first place. A lot of them feel like it’s a mistake they both made, so they both need to deal with consequences. The former tends to be guys who had already had experience of abortions and unplanned pregnancies, whereas the less experience a guy had, the more positive they are.  

One guy says: ‘You just have to play along. You don’t really have a say, you just have to put up with what you get. It’s your fault but you have no control over what happens.’

Another adds: ‘It was a risk that ws open when that decision was made to have sex, no matter how negligible you may consider the risk.’ 

Which we think sort of sums up the whole situation. Guys and girls, if you have unprotected sex, or you don’t cover your bases appropriately, then you’ve got to deal with the consequences. As boring, and teacher-like, and obvious as that sounds.

Like this? You might also be interested in...

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Tags: Abortion