LOVELL: Can we talk?

The Supreme Court, Friday, June 24, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

We are witnessing a lot of hysterical rage about government control of the reproductive rights of women thanks to the Supreme Court decision to send abortion laws back to the states.  Women are on the streets protesting the perceived removal of their “constitutional” right to have an abortion.  Interpretation of the Dobbs decision is lost on the streets. Women are angry. But what about men? Crickets.  

Let us first acknowledge that pregnancy is not a virus. You cannot catch it in a crowded room.   It is the very opposite of social distancing.  The mysterious transaction of sexual intercourse, combined with timing and luck produces an embryo that makes a baby.  This fact may be difficult for some to accept but it proves helpful if one wishes to avoid pregnancy.  

A women’s right to choose was born in the 1960s feminist movement, conceived by Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique.  The playbook, a syllabus taught in many colleges including my own, encouraged women to believe in themselves, actively participate in politics and industry, think big, get involved, take responsibility for your actions, dictate your own future. Powerful stuff.  

Then came The Pill. That magical combination of chemicals and ideology gave birth to the Sexual Revolution. Women were able to satisfy their sexual appetites just like men without the consequence of pregnancy, just like men. How incredibly liberating. What could go wrong? 

In 1973, when Roe v. Wade became law, according to the Guttmacher Institute, judged the most accurate reporter, 744,610 abortions were performed. The latest year on record, 2020, the number rose to 930,160. With contraception available to literally every woman and man the number of abortions should have hit single digits. But abortion rates continue to rise. Why?   

Women do have the right to choose, and the Supreme Court cannot dictate the decision.  The first line of defense in the right to choose is to choose to say no. Most sexual intercourse is transacted by choice.  The harsh reality is that unwanted pregnancy is most often the result of indiscriminate sexual intercourse. Irony alert: in protesting the Dobbs decision, pro-choice advocates are advising women to withhold sexual activity from men until their abortion “rights” are reinstated.  

The indifferent attitude ascribed to men and sex has given them a pass on the responsibility for their own sexual activity. Men needed a Betty Freidan of their own to guide them through the Swingin’ Sixties. Government assistance programs at that time, Aid to Dependent Children for example, undermined their worth and authority and rendered fathers even more irrelevant, giving them a secondary role in our developing culture of advanced feminism.    

We need look no further than our video screen to see who is in control.  If there is a male in the picture, you can be sure he is not driving the car.  He is doing the laundry, falling off the roof or being humiliated by his neighbor’s pet. If the male role is dominant, he earns the “toxic masculinity” reputation.  Emasculation is proliferated in the classroom and in the board room. Job recruiters tell us that men are the third rank in prospective hires behind women and people of color. Men have a lower rank in academics and a higher dropout rate in school. We are cultivating a generation of beta males. Where are the father figures in this picture?  

The Supreme Court has given us the opportunity to reconsider not only abortion but the reason why this procedure is so prevalent. Can we imagine returning to the concept that President Clinton described as “legal and rare”? When the Supreme court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson is unpacked and the citizens of each state determine how best to respect the rights men, women and the unborn, let us embrace a culture of life.  

Our federal and state governments can examine adoption and repeal the insurmountable restrictions that have handicapped so many people of every color and stripe from loving and raising a child. Appropriate sex education can include ideology that values life and the dignity of intimate relationships. Social Services can reevaluate support and institute methods that recognize the worth of careful family planning.    

We have been given a second chance to examine the right to life and the right to choose. Let’s get it right.  

Connie Lovell lives in Pinehurst.