Monday, June 12, 2017

The Absurdity of an Argument: Men Not Allowed

The argument I am going to argue against is as follows: men should not have any authority regarding issues surrounding pregnancy, especially moral issues. According to this argument, the reason men should not have any authority over this subject is because men cannot experience pregnancy and thus cannot understand what it means to be pregnant. It is also argued that pregnancy issues do not affect men as it does women.

From a pro-life perspective the response to this argument is simple: all human beings have an obligation to defend the lives of other human beings regardless of their size, level of development, place of residence, and amount of dependency. Indeed, it is widely viewed that all people are obligated to actively oppose the killing of innocent people regardless of largely uncontrollable variables such as gender, ethnic background, and religious affiliation. Therapeutic abortions are the intentional killing of human beings because of their young age, location, level of dependence, and how they inconvenience other human beings. In the United States, the number of unborn human beings purposely killed has reached the millions long ago and continues to this day; indeed, 730,222 unborn human beings were killed in the United States in 2011 alone not including California, Florida, and four other states (CDC, 2014). Including California's 184,552 abortions in 2011, using Guttmacher's numbers, the total comes to 914,774 (Guttmacher Institute, 2015). Thus, if it is the case that this many human beings are being killed then this must be diametrically opposed until it comes to an end.

The argument from the preceding paragraph is the one that I subscribe to. However, the argument should be delved into more deeply. The reason for this is that an emotional argument many people subscribe to has stripped away the humanity and "person-hood status" of the unborn no matter how ardently it is debated. This is important because if the converse is true (if an abortion does not kill a human being) then a massacre of grand scale does not exist. Thus, the following rebuttals to the argument that men have no right to an opinion regarding therapeutic abortion does not take into account the humanity of the unborn. Sound argument follows from both logical and experiential perspectives.

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Rebuttal from Logic
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We, as humans both male and female, have the capacity for reason. Reason results from utilizing logic. All people have experienced many things but not all people can experience all things during their life time  (i.e. not all women experience pregnancy). What reason would there be to disallow a group of individuals from using their capacity to reason to form an opinion although one has not had certain experiences? It is true that one who has had a previous personal experience related to the subject in question will often lend more credibility on the subject the experience is related to. For example, if I ate 10,000 calories every day for five years and became obese then I would be able to speak from experience when I say that overeating results in weight gain, numerous health problems, and many inconveniences; this experience has then created increased credibility to my opinion regarding overeating. However, is it a necessity that I have this experience to have enough credibility to hold the opinion that overeating results in a negative outcome and should be avoided? It is possible to have known this probable outcome without first experiencing it by using facts and logic. Therefore, gaining credibility through an experiential background is important but not a requirement prior to forming an opinion. Indeed, those who have experienced a therapeutic abortion can provide vital insights into the subject but that experience alone cannot be the basis for an opinion.

By utilizing this frame of thought, if one group cannot biologically experience something it does not logically follow that the group cannot have an opinion regarding it. Experience certainly adds credibility but lack of experience does not, in itself, remove the ability of a human to utilize sound reason, logic, and facts to form a credible opinion.

Consider also that it is highly possible that someone who has experienced something may actually have a biased opinion, particularly from an emotional stand point. For example, say that a man had a brother that died from a skiing accident. This man also has no prior knowledge of the required safety precautions already in place for skiing safety.  This person would likely be angry, justifiably so, about the dangers of skiing even without knowing anything about existing skiing safety precautions. Would it then follow that it would be acceptable to make skiing illegal based upon this man's emotionally charged experience? While a case can be made to create laws that provide additional safety for skiing, an argument purely from an emotional stand point is weak. For example, what exactly could have prevented the accident? Was their a failure in the mechanism of the ski equipment or was there user error involved? A position would need to be formed following a proper investigation from impartial experts in the field. The man's stance on skiing is so heavily weighed on emotion that this opinion must only be considered in light of other compelling arguments derived from facts and logic. Naturally, then, a woman who has had an abortion but has a poor grasp of the facts should not be the sole basis of forming your own opinion on the subject.

Another argument at play here is that there is no experiential difference regarding pregnancy between the following two groups: women whom have never been pregnant before and men. Should it follow, then, that it is not only men that should not have an opinion regarding pregnancy health and therapeutic abortion but also those who have never been pregnant? It would then follow that the only people entitled to an opinion are those who have experienced that said thing for themselves? How else could one know how it feels to then form an opinion of it? This line of reasoning is absurd. For example, can only those who have experienced the process of parenting have an opinion regarding what constitutes child abuse? Just because someone has experience surrounding the subject matter does not make them experts in the field. A child psychologist is not unqualified merely for not having his or her own child just the same as a man is not unqualified merely for not having a uterus. Ultimately, someone who has had a therapeutic abortion can become so steeped in emotion that what actually transpired may be ignored (i.e. the death of an unborn child). It is not always true that those who have directly experienced something are the best experts regarding the related subject.

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Rebuttal from Personal Experience
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Logically, it is not only experience that lends itself to logical conclusions. However, experience plays a large role in discovering the truth. My own experiences illustrate that it is important that all people, both men and women, become involved in the debate over pregnancy related health issues and therapeutic abortion. Human lives are literally at stake.

Experience as a teen
I decided very early on in my life to very actively pursue the truth. As a 6th grader a teacher angrily called me a liar regarding the details surrounding a skirmish that happened during recess. I was being very honest. It hurt me so deeply that I felt physical pain which resulted in me ditching class and running home crying. It made me want to fight adamantly against lies and to discover the truth no matter where it was to be found. This experience also gave me an underlying distrust of others.

Due to this formative experience, I felt dedicated to deeply discovering the truth even in the most controversial and unpleasant topics facing us as a society. Subjects ranging from birth control, homosexuality, government structure, basic morality, faith, and abortion peeked my interest. Abortion became the most important topic because of the gravity of the subject; if abortion is the intentional killing of our fellow human beings then our country has been experiencing a massacre without many of us realizing it! Conversely, however, if abortion is benign and akin to a toenail removal then I could care less. The more that I learned about the subject the more that I could not ignore it. Legalized and widespread killing of our country's unborn children made me very sad and, rightfully so, very angry. I tried so very, very hard to prove myself wrong. I very much did not (and still do not) want to believe this truth. Who in their right mind would want to think that countless children are being killed and torn to tiny little pieces while everyone tries their best to ignore it? Unfortunately, I had no choice but to accept the truth. After all, I reasoned, the truth was, and still is, the most important thing to me.

Experience as a young man
Good life decisions and hard work do not guarantee that a person will not fall into times of great need. Immediately after graduating high school, I went to college. At the time I majored in music. In time, however, I lost confidence in my future goals. Eventually, I was inspired by the great interest I took in the difficult Anatomy and Physiology class. I also met many pre-nursing students. Alongside meeting my future wife who also provided inspiration, these factors led to my decision to become a nurse. I have always wanted to have a more concrete means to help other people. To work in a job where I have a direct and very positive effect on other people in a physical, emotional, and spiritual way fit my personality well.

Finally I got admitted to the nursing program at my local community college. This program was very difficult and life consuming. At the time I had no idea what nursing specialty I would have the most interest in. However, once I experienced labor and delivery nursing that summer I had my answer. I was so intensely excited in helping moms during their pregnancy and while birthing their children. All nursing students are very nervous and freeze up during their first clinical rotations; I was no different. However, the first laboring woman that I was assisted was very receptive to me. She was so happy to have a student be so willing to help and so excited to be involved. She eventually gave birth to her beautiful baby and thanked me very sincerely for all of my help. At that moment I knew that no matter the barriers to becoming a male in labor and delivery that obstetrical nursing was in my future. I cannot thank this woman enough for the inspiration and determination she instilled into me.

Midway through nursing school I married my beautiful wife. My wife then became pregnant with our first son. Shortly thereafter, during the final year of nursing school, I lost my job and source of income. Eventually, no food was left and no money was left for gas, bills, and rent. After what seemed like forever I found a minimum wage per-diem job and a small amount of monetary assistance from my parents that kept me going. I also obtained food-stamps once every single last article of food was gone. This was indeed a very difficult time of my life. At times I was uncertain if I could continue nursing school. My doubts were starting to accumulate whether or not I could provide for my wife and new child. During this tumultuous time I realized that one answer to my problems suggested by pro-choicers would be therapeutic abortion. What better way to ensure that I'd be able to continue my education and be successful in life than to remove one major barrier to that? Indeed, it would have been a great idea! However, I already knew that my wife was pregnant not with a parasite or something similar but with my own son! Never did it cross my mind to ever utilize therapeutic abortion to kill my son and help ensure a brighter financial future for myself and my wife. For a more detailed account of this experience please read My Own Pro-Life Walk.

Finally, I graduated nursing school and became a Registered Nurse. As a new graduate nurse I, like so many others, felt the need to get a job to support my family very strongly. The job market was difficult for new graduates at the time. I applied to many maternal units throughout my area as well as Versant programs in maternal health. However, I was not unable to find a job. Soon, out of necessity, I placed applications in different fields of nursing.

Eventually, I was hired for my first Registered Nursing job. This job was Registered Nurse Case Managing in hospice. I worked in this capacity for upwards of three years. The people I worked with were amazing! I also got to experience the opposite spectrum of the life issue, the end of life. There is no better an illustration of the beauty of life than to care for those at the end of life. Indeed, the end of life, as the last part of life's experiences, is such a difficult thing. Yet the people I have met, the stories I have heard, the amount of help that I have provided, and the degree of love that I experienced is tremendously powerful. If it was not for my determination to be a labor and delivery nurse then I might have well stayed in that specialty. I found, through experience, that the end of life needs to occur in dignity, compassion, and help, rather than in a falsely placed sense of sympathy through euthanasia. Please read my articles regarding this topic: Hospice Nursing: Embracing the End of Life and Experiencing Death in Hospice.

After leaving hospice and finding my only means of working in the hospital as a medical-surgical nurse for another three years. As time marched foward I felt significant ambivalence regarding my future in labor and delivery. I had to consider that it is women who almost exclusively work in that specialty and that all of the patients in labor and delivery are women. Amidst this time of ambivalence I left a hand-written note (of all things) for the maternal-child health department manager at a time that I heard of numerous full-time openings regarding my interest. That one fateful action led to me landing an interview to work in labor and delivery.

Experience as a labor and delivery nurse
After nearly eight years after discovering that labor and delivery nursing was in my future as a nursing student I was finally going to have an interview to work as a Registered Nurse in the department! I studied mother-baby nursing in my nursing textbook and delved myself deeply into the world of labor and delivery nursing. Although I had such a positive and inspirational experience in labor and delivery in nursing school that was nearly eight years prior, the experience was brief, and my responsibilities were limited. No amount of preparation could enlighten me as to what experiences were to follow. Most pressing on my mind was the fact that I am a man desiring very much to care for women as they are giving birth to their own children which is something quite rare. Indeed, giving birth is a very vulnerable and personal experience for women. There are many men who are obstetricians but it is nearly impossible to find a man working as a nurse in obstetrics. I also gave great thought to the difficulty that may arise out of the attitudes and beliefs of all of the women nurses that would be my coworkers. I was getting quite nervous!

My interview consisted of some hard clinical knowledge questions and critical thinking. I felt good about my answers and I conveyed my passion for labor and delivery nursing properly. The manager, assistant manager, and two clinical educators were present for the interview. Following a brief private discussion held between the four of them they decided to hire the very first man as a labor and delivery nurse the hospital has ever had. I was speechless. For a moment I had a blank look on my face. Shortly thereafter I came to my senses and expressed how amazing being hired was.

I thought about about the first day I started on the unit. How would my coworkers, all women, and patients, all women, respond to my presence? To the meat of the issue, would my coworkers and patients respond with disgust and distrust that a man would want to be a labor and delivery nurse? Would they respond akin to the animus I experienced from the stringent argument that men have absolutely no right to even have an opinion regarding the issue of therapeutic abortion? From the pro-choice perspective, therapeutic abortion is equally as personal a decision as is the decisions surrounding the birthing process. With glee I discovered that patients and fellow nurses were comfortable with my care as long as I had their best intentions at heart, provided competent care, showed and provided respectful and loving care, and remained, always, an advocate for patients. I remember very distinctly one of my first patients encouraging me to provide her care after I had expressed that I was very nervous about it. In my experience, patients refusing my care due to my gender has been an extreme rarity. My coworkers have been and continue to be awesome colleagues with whom I share the same goal of providing safe, competent, and compassionate care for mommies and babies. I have experienced what it means to truly love them both-- both mothers and babies. It is a beautiful experience that has never been hindered by the fact that I am a man. At the time of writing, I have been working in labor and delivery nursing for two and a half years.

I have more experience caring for those with whom are dying and women who are giving birth than most people have ever had in their lives. These beautiful experiences lend to my credibility surrounding life issues. It also does provide a bias towards protecting and defending mothers and their babies. It is of great gratitude that my experiences have confirmed my previously held opinions concluded solely from a logical and factual framework. In my career, in my words, and in my life I will defend, care for, and protect mothers and babies every time that opportunity is provided.

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I share with you my logic and experience to better understand my perspective that gender is not a barrier when it comes to the need to protect the lives of innocent babies. While there is certainly disagreement regarding what it means to be a human being from the philosophical means (this has been argued to begin from conception, as I argue, all the way to toddler-hood, as Princeton Bioethics professor Peter Singer argues) it does not change the fact that we are all called to protect and defend the lives of our fellow members of humanity.

Summarily, us humans, regardless of gender, have the capacity for reason. Therefore, gender should not be grounds for the dismissal of a person's opinion. Also, those who have had the experience surrounding the issue may have a bias that effects their opinion that is not grounded in an objective and logical conclusion considering the facts. Regardless of this possible bias, those who have experienced that which concerns the subject (i.e. a post-abortive woman in regards to the abortion debate) does have increased credibility once that bias is properly understood. Further, those who have the capability to experience that which is related to the argument may have not partaken in it; it does not follow that these people who have had the ability but did not partake should be granted more credibility than those who have no ability to partake (i.e. women who have no had a therapeutic abortion as opposed to men who have no ability to have a therapeutic abortion). Finally, as illustrated by my own experiences, those who cannot personally partake in the experience related to the subject may have other very compelling experiences that are related; this, then, may increase said person's credibility to speak on the subject so long as the bias is considered.

Ultimately, the most important factors surrounding an issue are the facts and logical argument while experiences serve to complement. These arguments illustrate that men can have a voice in regards to pregnancy-related health and therapeutic abortion. A person's gender must not be the basis for silencing a person's opinion.

Please leave comments regarding your own thoughts, experiences, and logic regarding this issue.

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  • State facts about abortion: California. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2015, from Guttmacher Institute website:
  • Center for Disease Control. (2014, November). Abortion surveillance: United States, 2011 (K. Pazol, A. Creanga, K. Burley, & D. Jamieson, Authors) Chasmar, J. (2015, June 16). 
  • Princeton bioethics professor faces calls for resignation over infanticide support. Retrieved June 12, 2017, from