( – promoted by Clark)

Cross-posted from DailyKos

Courtney R. Martin’s AlterNet article Why Men Should Be Included in Abortion Discussion is an important look at personal reality in our current state of reproductive freedom, and a must-read for anyone who cares about the issue. Oddly, though, it suggests that we need to make room for men’s voices in a debate that is dominated by men. One of my fantasies since teen years has been that men get out of the abortion debate altogether, to make room for something resembling a basic female presence. Now the Missouri legislature has passed another restrictions bill for the misogynist rightwing religious movement.

Martin argues:

The pro-choice movement, and feminists in general, seem to have historically shied away from the difficult but imperative task of involving men in conversations about abortion. It is understandable that the movement has been weary; no hot-button issue brings out more manipulation than this one. But it is time that feminists’ commitment to equality, as well as the quality of both women and men’s lives, trumps their fear that acknowledging men’s hardships will only serve as fodder for pro-life spin doctors. There must be a way to talk about men’s perspectives and experiences without compromising women’s bodies.

Certainly the men Martin and I know, good people and true feministas, are marginalized in the public conversation. That’s because the dominant voices are, to a man, associates of the evangelical movement to strip women of all independence. No woman in any camp has so much sway as even a lower-echelon politician like my own governor, the odious Matt Blunt.

Little Blunt, whose policies in general resemble nothing so much as a the offerings of a junior high boy who’d lick his daddy ‘s boots to win his approval, has directed the Missouri legislature in a full-frontal assault on any program that reeks of human decency. This, of course, includes reproductive rights, and the legislature has redefined “abortion facility” to require dispensaries, private practices, and any other place that administers five or more first-term abortions per month, including medical abortions, to be fully outfitted as full-scale surgery units.

Thanks to Operation Rescue and friends, the law affects only three facilities in Missouri, as the restrictions are already painfully tight. The Kansas City clinic, which functions only as a dispensary for contraception and emergency contraception, stopped performing surgical abortions years ago as one of Fred Phelps’ earliest targets, yet the bill’s provisions would require that it be fully outfitted for surgery in order to administer morning-after contraception.  The overt inclusion of this hapless facility, already marginalized by its address at the city’s defacto segregation line, is nothing less than an assault on contraception.

By the way, the bill legalizes abstinence-only sex education in public schools – eliminating a measure to require current medical information – and bars employees of “abortion facilities” from providing sex education in public schools.  Hmmm…when will the legislature just cut to the chase and outlaw Planned Parenthood altogether?

Not content to introduce and see the legislation passed, when Planned Parenthood filed a suit against the state, Blunt’s chief of staff, Ed Martin, emailed pro-life leaders from his official email address, asking them to mobilize:

This lawsuit has the potential of bringing down the a2a program as well as the other parts of 1055. We need to mobilize the supporters – to get Nixon off the case and get a new lawyer….Please have people write letters and call Nixon and the press. We need you to put out press statements asap. This is a huge battle.

When the Springfield News-Leader made an open-records request for Martin’s email, they were told it was missing, like so much other Republican email.

Judge Ortrie Smith ordered a temporary injuction against the shutdown of the three clinics that are now in violation of state law, and he’ll decide by September 24 how to proceed. Martin’s objection to  Attorney General Jay Nixon (D-Jeff City), who argued for the state, is that he’s pro-choice, and is the candidate we’re depending on to knock the governor off his throne next year.

It’s not as if the anti-choice movement would be unrepresented in a testosterone-free debate about who may control women’s bodies. The  regulating agency, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, is directed by a woman, and the world is littered with other female anti-choicists. The Blunt team was even able to scrape enough women together to pretend that this is a woman-initiated, woman-dominated bill. The sham of disguising a Blunt bill as if it came from some sort of women’s movement shows that even Republicans know how wrong it is for men to be the ones pulling the strings of this most female of issues.

The individual man’s personal response to abortion in his own life is sure to be heart-wrenching, and certainly, in a perfect world, all of us would be treated…equally. Is it possible that in a world of true reproductive freedom, pregnancy would not be so terrifying that women feel compelled to turn away from men in order to make private decisions? Is it possible that when women are not punished for opposing masculine ideology, we might be less apt to parrot positions that are inherently anti-female?

Patriarchy is so entrenched in our culture that we cannot envision the variables that would appear out of true equality.