I Support Reproductive Rights

My father passed away in January due to cancer-related complications. On his last day, my mom rushed him to the hospital, where doctors connected Dad to life support while family members gathered around him. I’ll never forget my last phone call with him, as I was far away in St. Louis: I told him I loved him and I was grateful for him. Despite the pain, he somehow gathered the strength to say the same back to me.

An hour later, they removed the life support, and Dad died soon after.

I don’t believe that we murdered my father. Do you?

***

Do you support reproductive rights? I know we always get caught up in the abortion aspect of reproductive rights, but here are some examples of the overarching concept:

  • Do you support a woman’s right to take birth control?
  • Do you support a man’s right to wear a condom?
  • Do you support two consenting adults’ decision to have sex for reasons other than to have a baby?
  • Do you support a family’s right to choose how many kids they have?
  • Do you support adoption? (spoiler: I’m adopted)
  • Do you support a person’s access to health care that may impact their reproductive organs, such as ovarian or testicular cancer?

If you somehow answered “no” to all of those questions, then I guess you really don’t support reproductive rights. But I suspect most of you are still here, and I’m glad we are. We support reproductive rights.

***

Ever since it was leaked that the Supreme Court was going to overturn Roe v. Wade, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around why people would pursue and celebrate the removal of reproductive rights from anyone with a uterus. My research keeps coming back to two things:

  1. They view it as murder.
  2. They can’t put themselves in the shoes of a woman in need of reproductive support.

Let’s talk about murder first. Whether or not you believe an embryo is a human life–and aside from your decision to consider more important than the life of a fully grown human being–an embryo is entirely dependent on its mother.

Just like my father at the end, abortion is the removal of life support. It is not murder. That doesn’t make it any easier for the woman making the decision. And now many states–including Missouri–have prevented women from making that decision. If you’re pro-life, are you also anti-hospice?

Now let’s talk about men. Biologically, I think it’s difficult for men to fully comprehend the vast complexity of variables a woman experiences after learning they’re pregnant. Consequently, it’s also difficult for men to fully understand what Friday felt like for women in the United States who were informed that they no longer have reproductive rights in the eyes of the Supreme Court.

I’ve researched and thought about this quite a bit in the hopes of helping my fellow men relate even just a little bit, because I really want us to try to empathize better. If you’re on board with a higher level of empathy for women, imagine if tomorrow you learned the following:

  1. It’s now illegal in your state for doctors to perform vasectomies or to remove any part of your body, even if it endangers you.
  2. You have a dependent who depends on you for daily blood and bone marrow infusions. You are now legally required to donate to them for the next 9 months, even if it puts your life at risk.

Now, neither of those things are true in real life. But imagining they’re real just for a few seconds might help you better empathize with the harsh reality that began yesterday for anyone with a uterus. (And if you have a better example, please share it in the comments below–I’m just doing my best here based on my research and processing!)

I recommend this podcast if you’d like to learn more about the science and facts regarding abortion.

***

I understand that no blog entry is ever going to change anyone from pro-life to pro-choice. But I hope this has given you some food for thought. And if you aren’t ever budging from a pro-life stance and don’t simply consider yourself anti-choice, I hope you fully embrace all of the ways you can support life after the moment of birth: Support end-of-life care, condemn the death penalty, abolish death-causing AR-15s, advocate for vaccinations that save the lives of those around us, make choices to aid the environment and slow man-made climate change, push for universal health care, and eat fewer animals. That’s life.

If you support a woman’s freedom to choose, there’s something you can do. I wrote to my core team at Stonemaier Games today to see if they were in support of a message I wrote for Instagram. We had a good talk about it, and we agreed that I could post it on behalf of the company (otherwise I would have posted it just as Jamey). Just click here to like and/or comment on the post to add to the contribution, which has already climbed over $4,000. [UPDATE: The final donation was $12,000.]

UPDATE: For full transparency, it’s with a heavy heart that I have removed some comments from this post. I struggle with this decision, as there are portions of the comments that present well-reasoned points about this issue. But it’s the other portions of those comments that are so insidious, misleading, and lacking in any amount of empathy that in good conscience I simply cannot leave them among the archives of this blog. I hope you can find a more productive way to express yourself, and I will likewise try to learn from this experience so I can better engage in difficult conversations like this.

19 thoughts on “I Support Reproductive Rights”

  1. “I understand that no blog entry is ever going to change anyone from pro-life to pro-choice. But I hope this has given you some food for thought. And if you aren’t ever budging from a pro-life stance, I hope you fully embrace all of the ways you can support life after the moment of birth: Support end-of-life care, condemn the death penalty, abolish death-causing AR-15s, advocate for vaccinations that save the lives of those around us, make choices to aid the environment and slow man-made climate change, and push for universal health care. That’s life.”

    I really appreciate this paragraph. I think something that has been sorely overlooked in the reactions this weekend has been the implication that anyone who is pro-life is also anti-gun control, anti vaccine, anti health care, etc… I know plenty of pro-life people (both men and women) that are in favor of gun control, vaccines, universal health care, etc… Just because somebody agrees with one aspect of the Republican party doesn’t mean they agree with all of them.

    Reply
      • Politicians have divided this country enough. We need to find ways to come together to create a better world, not allow our disagreements with others to further divide us and fuel hate.

        Reply
  2. Hi Jamey,

    I’ve always loved your games and I respect your stance on this issue. As a Canadian I tend to be more liberal by definition, but I must say I and many of my fellow Canadian gaming friends were incredibly dismayed at the reversal of Roe vs Wade. As a man and father I just can’t get my head around the notion of dictating personal health decisions to women about their bodies. I thought in the 21st century we were beyond this insecure need for men to control what they truly cannot understand.

    I appreciate your efforts here to challenge men’s hypocrisy on this issue.

    Reply
  3. Thank God for people like you! I was just telling my husband last night that menopause is the best revenge against all this crap–nothin’ anybody can do about it. Can’t legislate it away, can’t Supreme Court it away, can’t reverse it somehow, and can’t even delay it.

    Reply
  4. Well, said, Jamey. I appreciate that you focused on the intensely personal, real-life implications of the Dobbs decision. I worry that the decision could eventually be used to reverse other fundamental rights like same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and contraception.

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  5. There is a big difference in your analogy between life support for a dying patient and the life support to a mother and a baby. In 6 or 7 months there is almost certainty that a baby will be born that will live a viable life. If you knew a dying patient would almost certainly fully recover fully after 6 or 7 months then would anyone realistically take them of life support.

    Reply
    • Without the life support, the baby won’t even form in the first place. You’re right that there’s a difference, though–we’re talking about a human being versus something that could potentially become a human being.

      Reply
  6. I want to preface my comment by saying I fully believe in a person’s right to choose. Your example of your father being pulled off life support is an analogy similar to those I have heard before. At first, I thought this was a great example and defense of a person’s right to choose. However, there is a pretty big difference: the dependent in your example was heading towards the end of their life whereas pregnancy is seen as the beginning of life. This now becomes a philisophical question of when does life begin? We cannot use religion’s clear-cut “life begins at conception” because there is supposed to be a separation between church and state. So then when does a life begin? What is life exactly? Is it a beating heart, a brain, a body? Is it something more? Memories, experiences, emotions? Is it a combination of all these things? I don’t know. I’m not a scientist nor a philospher.

    I’ve been trying to process this decision to overturn a ruling that helped so many Americans. I began to wonder, does it really matter when life begins while in the womb? Many mistake the notion that those who believe in pro-choice are also pro-abortion. This is not the case. This is about resources given to those who need it most. Someone who has not been born yet are not the most vulnerable nor those most in need, because they are not here yet. They are not suffering with the realities of life and our society. Those most in need are low socio-economic folx. This decision hurts them more than anyone else. We continue to strip away the rights of those who cannot afford rights. I would go as far as to say this even hurts the middle-class. Those who are rich enough to go wherever they need to get an abortion, still can.

    Further, I believe this was done during pride month very purposely. There is no way this would have happened during Women’s History Month. Why this month? What else do they have in store to divert our attention to this during a time of celebrating LGBTQ+ folx? Greater more, this decision perpetuates the deep rooted misogyny within this country and in so many others. It also contiues the cis-normative narative. People of all genders can be pregnant, not only women. I could go into a whole rant about how mysogyny is the root cause of homophobia and transphobia, but that is not the point of my argument.

    Ultimately, the question is not when does life begin or if this is considered muder. The question is, why is there such a profound hatred, mistrust, and mocking of women? And why is this the pandemic that has gone on for centuries without a cure?

    Reply
    • Matthew: Thank you for sharing this, and the following I think is particularly well said: “This is about resources given to those who need it most. Someone who has not been born yet are not the most vulnerable nor those most in need, because they are not here yet. They are not suffering with the realities of life and our society. Those most in need are low socio-economic folx.”

      Reply
      • Thank you for allowing the conversation to be had! I know I put just a bunch of word vomit lol. I’m glad you felt that particular part was well said 🙂

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  7. Jamey thank you for writing this with obvious empathy and broad mindedness. I am sorry for what your family had been through and the painful loss of your Dad. Your actions at the end were guided by love and compassion, and a deep concern for the value of his life.

    You have chosen to use this as the starting point for a viewpoint on abortion so please allow me to take a different slant, I do not intend to be insensitive to your loss.

    You made the point that withdrawing medical intervention to keep your Dad alive and allowing nature to take it’s course might conceivably be considered murder – your point being that no compassionate person would actually think this way.

    You made this sound like a parallel with abortion. But there is no logical connection between the two – abortion is in fact the exact opposite – the introduction of a violent medical intervention to prevent nature taking its course.

    What if those who call themselves pro life simply want the same love and compassion that guided your actions towards your father to guide attitudes and actions towards the unborn child?

    This does not make them/us insensitive to the mother. It just means that the value of all human lives involved should be considered.

    Life throws us curveballs. In certain circumstances the conception of a child can bring a painful future to those who have to care for it – a future that was never chosen or desired.

    Abortion seems an easy solution, because the life ended is out of sight and cannot fight back or complain. Tragically in some cases the mother who either made the free choice or was compelled towards the ‘choice’ by the prevailing norms of society, is forever harmed too.

    The ideology of abortion seems to advocate an attempt to erase all risk of pain at all cost – even at the cost of another human life who has no say in the matter.

    The same line of reasoning would have justified me and my wife turning off life support to my son in ICU and so to be spared a lifetime of the significant pain and disruption to our plans of dealing with cerebral palsy and the various other effects of life long disability.

    The thought is unconscionable.

    Yet I have to stop and consider: if, at the very early stages of gestation, someone had been able to predict that this is the life we would be faced with unless we aborted, I CAN actually imagine us being tempted, to avoid ourselves such ‘pain’, and to prevent our son ‘existing’ before he felt like a real baby to us. This line of thinking would only have been possible because we did not yet know our son as a real human being, and the joy he brings.

    But doesn’t even that last statement stick in the throat? As if a baby is only worth allowing to live if it enhances the life of the parents?

    No. All life is valuable and to be loved and protected if we possibly can.

    Reply
    • I respect the way you expressed this, particularly the sentiment of “In certain circumstances the conception of a child can bring a painful future to those who have to care for it – a future that was never chosen or desired.”

      Would you mind clarifying if you support reproductive rights? I can’t really tell from your comment if you do.

      Please know that no one is trying to tell you what you can or cannot do for your son. That’s the point of all this–pro-choice means empathizing with other people, people who have different situations and complications than we do.

      As men, I know it’s tough to truly imagine what it feels like for the government to not support our health care. But hopefully the examples I provided in the post can help you feel that, just a little bit. Perhaps men need to fully and legally experience that to really understand how anyone with a uterus might feel right now in states like Missouri.

      Reply
  8. Hi, I believe in human rights including reproductive rights. My belief in human rights applies also to the unborn child, and so I believe that adult humans bear responsibilities towards the unborn which must be balanced with their rights to plan their own future. So I differ here with others. Where some reading this may recoil at the thought I might want to ‘impose my views’ on others I would say that In any complex situation where the rights of humans appear to be in opposition, it is the place of lawmakers to carefully consider what is fair and appropriate. Especially to protect those without power to protect themselves.

    Our freedoms are in many areas of society curtailed by our responsibilities towards others. I’m not suggesting this is easy, and I’m aware that my status as a man makes my opinions less valid in the minds of some, because I do not have to personally and bodily suffer in the way women faced with this choice have suffered (you are right to point this out).

    I do also find the invasive and violent nature of the dismemberment and extraction of unborn children by (often male) physicians very hard to equate with the virtuous idea of women’s rights or freedoms – or at least I think the debate had become too simplistic and one sided in mainstream media and I am doubtful how many young women historically making this choice were fully informed.

    So I’m doubtful how ‘pro choice’ many advocates of abortion really are if that ‘choice’ for so long has been shaped by a slanted ideology which may not report on the range of effects and possible aftermaths of abortion on all concerned.

    Reply
  9. Very nicely phrased Jamey. Very sound arguments that I totally buy (I specially like the anti-hospice mention)….only that I was convinced before I started reading it.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that these arguments will reach very far. Simply put, people that are pro-life often make their opinions based on beliefs rather than logic. This is why often when people debate they do not seem to listen to each other: each person prioritizes what they find more important, and that thing is rarely critical for someone who disagrees. Obviously, this should not stop us for trying.

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  10. I’m extremely sadden by this decision, that is a big step back for not just reproductive rights, but also for women’s rights in general.

    People don’t realize what it really means, and only thinks about “but is the fetus a human life?”.

    The reality is that now, a woman (or anyone with a uterus) is considered to have less bodily autonomy and rights than a corpse.

    As a corpse, you can choose not to give your viable organs. Organs that could save not just one hypothetical life but numerous ones.
    At the first trimester (which is the moment when the high majority of abortions are performed), the chance of miscarriage is 20%, which is super high, most women will have one in their life, so it might not even live by just letting it there, it’s a fragile clump of cells at this stage.

    Giving your organs will save numerous lives, lives that are not hypothetical, that really exist, that are already born.

    Though, people can chose, and I think it’s important that they can.
    You can chose not to give your organs, not to have an abortion for yourself. But let others chose for themselves too.

    You don’t have a say in other people lives, in their beliefs and what they chose to do with their own body.
    A clump of cells shouldn’t have more value and rights than the person who is carrying and maintaining it alive.

    By taking this choice away from women, it sends a big message that we are worth less than a corpse.

    And I won’t even go into too much details on what it means for women who want a baby but prefer now not to have any because:
    “What if they have a miscarriage but the foetus doesn’t go down by itself and they can’t have a needed abortion to pull it out?” –> they’ll die.
    “What if they carry the child but end up having a condition that would endanger both the baby and the mommy?” –> they’ll die.

    This decision will kill real lives and stop many women from wanting to create life altogether.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing this, Celine. I agree 100%, and my heart breaks for women in America. This is a huge tragedy, and I hope that states stand up for women’s reproductive rights.

      Reply

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