HomeoldThe real reasons women are more pro-life than men

The real reasons women are more pro-life than men

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I first ran across Martin Robbins, who writes for the British newspaper The Guardian, when he was defending the decision of Josie Cunningham to abort her 18-week-old baby so she could appear on a reality television show. (Fortunately, Cunningham changed her mind–http://nrlc.cc/1o4lWVi.)

So he’s not afraid of taking positions even the most die-hard pro-abortionists resist. With that as background, here is a quote from one of his column. What do you think Robbins is talking about?

“We’re not talking about small differences here or individual polls here though – we have multiple polls from multiple different polling companies, commissioned by a range of different interests over a decade. Sure there’s some noise and some variation over time, but a big difference remains no matter what. It looks pretty settled to me.”

What’s “settled” is—even more than is the case in the United States—that women are more pro-life than men in Great Britain. And not by piddling margins.

Here is his explanation of this “counterintuitive gender divide.”

For men, he argues, (quoting an academic paper) it’s

“that the availability of abortion changed men’s attitudes to unplanned parenthood, as neatly expressed by an unnamed ‘internet contributor’: ‘Since the decision to have the child is solely up to the mother, I don’t see how both parents have responsibility to that child.’”

That’s quite plausible, actually. Pro-lifers (and even those with no position to defend) understand that far from empowering women, abortion gives power to men—the power to act irresponsibly.

But, alas, Robbins recycles the same hackneyed, thread worn explanation for why women are more pro-life: “the heavy weight of centuries of cultural baggage and social expectation” with which anyone who disagrees is “dismissed as unfeminine, cruel or somehow defective.”

Robbins summarizes his argument in a two-fold conclusion. Is it “Internalised sexism [internalised sexism?!], men’s liberation, fundamentally different ideas about the point at which life begins, or something else entirely?”

While reluctant to attribute it to one factor, he does anyway in the last word of his column: shame.

Really? That’s the sum and substance of why women are more pro-life than men?

It has nothing to do with mother/child existing as the single most crucial bond in human culture? Or the fact that women carry the baby, making for a level of intimacy and interconnectedness that no man could possibly even begin to fathom?

Or that talking about “blobs of protoplasm” or “potential life” or any of the other rhetorical dreck used to dehumanize unborn children is hard to swallow when your entire life has changed, courtesy of this tiny passenger? (By the way, by all means read http://m.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/what-happens-to-a-womans-brain-when-she-becomes-a-mother/384179.)

The reason women are more pro-life is not “shame,” although one could argue that shame is a factor, just not the way Robbins does. It is that men are not ashamed of their unwillingness to stand by the mother of their children that explains why men are less pro-life.

Robbins, billed as “The Lay Scientist,” ought to be able to do better than to dredge up arguments that are ridiculously simplistic.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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