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Keep an open door


In these days following the Roe vs Wade decision, much has been written and spoken, both opposing and supporting the ruling.

I’ve listened and read a lot on the subject. And, one of the things that has struck me is the relative absence of the decision’s affect on men. Men, after all, are full partners in the creation of a fertilized egg and the decision of what to do about that result should be a partnership as well. Though too often that’s not the case.

I’m old enough – and experienced enough – to realize that, in some instances, there is no subsequent partnership possible. That often, the coupling is the only time both partners share anything. That it’s too often the fault of a dishonest man. Or, a woman, too embarrassed or frightened to share the news and her partner never knows a thing.

But, men, too, can be embarrassed and frightened. And scared.

Though not being one of the two souls who created a fertilized egg, I’ve had close experience with someone who has. A friend and former room mate. Male. We’ll call him Mark.

I watched him go through a series of emotions when he found out what had happened. It was much like the steps of grief we feel when someone close dies. Anger. Remorse. Guilt. Denial. Acceptance, etc.

Mark was a decent guy. His partner in their doomed coupling seemed to be a decent young woman. I’d double-dated with them a few times. Movies. Bowling. Sight-seeing. Those kinds of things. Fun things. Even took a week-long trip together.

But, soon after Mark broke the news to me – news he learned from a third person – she disappeared. Just gone. Mark searched everywhere. He called their mutual friends. No one knew where she was. Her parents and her employer swore they didn’t know. He kept searching for several months. Not a trace.

All the time, Mark was dealing with his deeply felt emotions. He showed a sense of responsibility and often felt that sense especially while fighting tears. The instant end of his relationship left ragged, exposed nerves. Closure was not possible.

Eventually, Mark asked for a military transfer and we soon lost touch with each other.

I have no idea how the young woman I knew only as a friend’s frequent date dealt with the pregnancy. Did she end it? Is there someone out there who grew to adulthood without a father? Did she get her life back together? Have I passed someone on the street who was that person? Like Mark, I just don’t know.

While a man is often painted in indifferent, uncaring ways when faced with an unwanted pregnancy, that’s not always the case. I think when Mark was told the truth – while we were both in our early 20’s – he actually rounded one of life’s corners and grew as a man. Looking back, I can more clearly see the days when he changed.

And, I’ve wondered often about “her.” Why did she disappear? Why did she just instantly walk out of Mark’s life? Why didn’t she share the moment with someone who, I think, would have been an excellent husband and father? Was she afraid of his reaction? Or, was she just plain scared?

In my opinion, the Roe vs Wade decision was deeply wrong. The tone of that decision, written by a Conservative majority, seemed to show personal anger – especially on the parts of Justices Alito and Thomas. Their seeming Patriarchal nature was especially telling when compared to the deeply personal tone of the written dissent of the minority.

I may be the most ignorant person on this planet but I’ve never fully understood the angry mob that’s made a deeply personal matter of health care a 50-year political battle, creating many casualties along the way. Inserting a government figure in the doctor’s exam room has never made sense to me.

Sometimes, when getting my annual physical, I imagine someone I’ve never heard of – fully dressed and carrying a brief case – standing in the corner, watching each procedure. Unnerving? Yes! Absurd? Absolutely. But, how is that different from a woman’s exam now? Will it not be the same?

I will use this forum to pledge my support to any organized effort to take abortion decisions out of government hands and leave them to the man, the woman and her physician. Where such important matters of life and death belong.

While I can’t – and won’t – apologize for the six justices on SCOTUS who’ve created this crisis, nor the absent fathers, I will personally and genuinely apologize to the women of this country. And, I’ll make this one request. Please keep the door open for men who want to help. There are many of us.

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