Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Abortion Politics Aren't Just for Women

This piece in Esquire about Warren Hern is an unsettling reminder that there is only one surgeon skilled enough in America left after Dr. George Tiller's death that can perform late-term abortions. The story itself is chilling. It talks of Hern's compulsion to keep a rifle next to his bed, his distaste of the word "abortionist" (which has become a dirty word thanks to the anti-choice movement, he says), and that this man is 70 but that he doesn't have a shot at retirement. It is an interesting piece about an important aspect of the debate over reproductive rights -- and it was written by a man and published in a magazine that says its target demographic is men.

I agree with Alyssa Rosenberg when she says that a "woman's" magazine (i.e. the unserious glossies like Glamour, Elle, Vogue, or Marie Claire) wouldn't bother to devote enough space or depth to such a story. I would also venture to guess that it's about the controversy that such a piece brings as well. Women's magazine advertisers don't like controversial issues. They like to walk the middle of the political spectrum. As long as "women" who read the magazines aren't asked to choose politics then they aren't either. They can be equal opportunity capitalists to conservatives, liberals, and moderates alike.

But I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing that such a piece appears in a men's magazine. After all, I've said before, the reproductive rights movement needs to recognize that it can't just spend time talking to women. It needs to engage with men if we ever expect to see women's rights addressed seriously in a political arena. There are plenty of straight men that might read that piece in Esquire and actually take some time to think about the issue of abortion. They might come out with different conclusions than women who defend choice might desire, but at least they're thinking about it. So often it seems that women's issues are left to women. It is for them to sort out finding a doctor who will perform the procedure or fight for the issue in health care reform. By getting men on the side of the reproductive rights community, it might make pro-choice battles a little easier.

1 comment:

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