I’ve been watching as men try to figure out what is the appropriate reaction to the overturning of Roe. For the last 50 years, feminists have been insisting men they shouldn’t even have an opinion about it -- other than going along with whatever the woman wants to do. So it was with great interest that I listened to Joe Rogan. I think he represents how a lot of men think.
“I am 100% for a woman’s right to choose. But as a human being, just a person observing things, there’s a big difference between a little clump of cells and a fetus with the eyeball and a beating heart. And for anybody to pretend there’s not.”
Rogan’s guest, comedian Doug Stanhope asked, “Where do you draw the line?”
Rogan replied, “Right. Where do you draw the line? Yeah, that’s the question. It’s what I call a human issue. It’s a very complicated issue. It’s so fraught with emotion. And it’s so political.”
As someone who is pro-life, pro-woman and post-abortive, let me breakdown what I heard him say.
I am 100% for a woman’s right to choose. Meaning, I want women to enjoy the same freedom and autonomy I do. I wouldn’t want someone to restrict my ability to go where I want, do what I want or be what I want. I have no concept of what she has to endure physically, emotionally, physically, etc. during pregnancy so I understand why she doesn’t want me to interfere. I trust her to make the right decision because she has to live with it.
Joe Rogan is thoughtful, considerate and empathetic. It seems to me that his approach is the same as it would be for any other difficult challenge -- like becoming a Mixed Martial Artist. MMA involves a LOT of training and commitment, not to mention a complete upheaval of lifestyle. Joe would probably say he has no business telling anyone else, “Hey you should get in that cage and fight!” Telling another man what to do is utterly disrespectful. His abortion position conveys respect for a woman’s ability to decide what she is capable of, and reflects how a man would never make that decision for someone else.
OK, fair enough. It’s an honorable way to approach it.
But then he said,
There’s a big difference between a little clump of cells and a fetus with the eyeball and a beating heart. What I heard him say was, If what’s in there is basically just like a blood clot or a polyp, I’m not emotionally invested. But HUMANS have eyeballs. HUMANS have heartbeats. My daughter was Whatever-It-Is, once-upon-a-time. At some point, before she was born though, I became her Dad and I was wired up to defend her.
He’s trying to walk the line between his masculine instinct to protect, and his desire to treat women with respect. But he’s not stupid. He knows the only real difference between Whatever-It-Is in a random woman’s body and his own daughter when she was inside her mom is WANTEDNESS. There’s no physiological difference. It’s merely the circumstances outside the woman’s body which determine if a new life has infinite value (the same as his daughter’s) or no value at all.
And that's the problem. We don’t typically let a person’s wantedness determine if they have a right to live. Homeless people don’t lose their right to live because people don’t want them in their neighborhoods. Yankee fans don’t lose their right to live when they show up at Dodger Stadium. Grandma doesn’t lose her right to live when her adult son stops wanting to care for her. Wantedness isn’t a criteria that works in any other situation, but abortion advocates say it ends of the argument when it comes to an unintended pregnancy.
But that gets problematic when you ask The Big Question…
Where do you draw the line? What I hear Joe asking is, Where is the point that the scales balancing mom’s autonomy and Whatever-It-Is tips, and it becomes two lives with equal value?
Make no mistake, that is the heart of the dilemma. Who decides where that tipping point is? In Texas, its six weeks because that’s the point a heartbeat can be detected. The Mississippi law which forced the Roe challenge draws the line at 15 weeks, because that’s when a fetus responds to pain. Some people say “within the first trimester,” although by the 8th week every organ that will be present at birth has formed, and from that point on, the fetus just develops complexity. Some draw the line at certain late-term procedures – in other words, it’s OK to terminate unwanted babies, but don’t be barbaric.
If Roe is overturned then abortion will be regulated according to the laws in each state. In some states, legal abortions will continue until birth (or maybe even after birth, as proposed in CA and VA recently). In other states, all abortions will illegal. People will have the choice to elect representatives who will reflect their preferences and values.
I want to reiterate: I really believe Joe’s position demonstrates his masculine respect for women to the best of his ability. I’m confident it’s coming from an honorable place, but here’s my challenge to Joe and those who look up to him:
If you concede there is a point where the mom’s life and Whatever-It-Is becomes two lives with equal value, isn’t the more honorable position to defend the weaker of those two, rather than the stronger?
See, the mom has other choices -- parent or adopt. Admittedly, those are not as convenient as abortion, but she does have options. If she chooses one of those, there are multiple layers of support for her. Pregnancy resource centers offer free financial, practical, emotional and spiritual help, and they outnumber abortion clinics by 3 to 1. Pregnancy-related medical care is covered in every state. If mom chooses adoption, there are 25 to 30 families for every aborted baby waiting and hoping to adopt .
Mom has all the choices, but the fragile life inside of her has NONE. The other is completely helpless, because Whatever-It-Is has no defender EXCEPT the mom.
As someone who admires men who use their strength against bullies, may I ask you Joe, is it honorable to be silent as the one with No voice and No choice lives or dies at the mercy of the one who has both a voice and the choice?
Are you really a man who is 100% for a woman's right to choose which of her children will live? Do you honestly believe that “whatever the mom wants” should be more protected than the defenseless one’s right to live?
After 50 years of being pressured to agree that supporting her "right to choose" makes you a better man, may I ask, does it? Do you feel like a better man because you endorse discarding the inconvenient, the helpless and the unwanted? Do you feel like a better man because you agree to devalue motherhood? Is that truly how it makes you feel?
Because I have a feeling it isn’t.