By John Aman
Feminists have been telling men to keep out of the abortion debate for decades. Female body parts, the activists say, give them the sole right to address the issue.
“Stand down if you don’t have ovaries,” a Florida state representative told her male colleagues in 2010 as lawmakers debated a bill requiring ultrasound examinations before abortions.
But talk like that is at odds with recent history, contends Brian Fisher in his recent book “Abortion: The Ultimate Exploitation of Women.”
Abortion is “more about men and their agendas than it is about women and their agendas,” asserts Fisher, co-founder and president of Online for Life, which uses Internet technology to protect women and children from abortion.
Fisher uncovers inconvenient facts in his book, showing that the legalization of abortion was a male-dominated enterprise into which feminists were lured.
“The culture thinks that women started it and pushed it, but there were men behind the scenes that were actually orchestrating the entire project.”
Fisher cites Bernard Nathanson, the Manhattan OBGYN who teamed up in the late 1960s with writer Lawrence Lader to dismantle U.S. abortion laws.
Nathanson cofounded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws with Lader in 1969. But Nathanson later switched sides and offered embarrassing scoops about Lader’s machinations to put women front and center.
“If we’re going to move abortion out of the books and into the streets, we’re going to have to recruit the feminists,” Lader told Nathanson in 1967.
“Friedan has to put her troops into this thing,” Lader said of Betty Friedan, then-president of NOW and author of “The Feminine Mystique.”
Nathanson told Rosemary Oelrich Bottcher, a past president of Feminists for Life, that he and Lader persuaded feminists that legal abortion was central to their concerns.
“We got them to see legal abortion as a civil rights issue, a basic women’s rights issue,” Nathanson told her.
That stance was a complete reversal for feminists, who fought against abortion in the 19th century. Feminist Alice Paul, who wrote the original Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, called abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women” and “killing unborn women.”
It’s true that some women didn’t need prodding from men like Nathanson and Lader to take up the abortion cause. Patricia Maginnis barnstormed America for abortion rights in the 1960s and complained that women were not doing more to change the law. She told American Civil Liberties Union cofounder Morris Ernst that “the men have given us the greatest support.”
Fisher reveals in his book that opinion research conducted from 1960 to 1970 found “non-Catholic, male, well-educated ‘establishment’” men were the strongest supporters of lifting abortion restrictions.
“Upper-class men have much to gain and very little to lose by an easing of legal restrictions against abortion,” said demographer Judith Blake, who reviewed the survey results in a 1971 article.
Fisher writes that two agendas – sexual freedom and eugenics – fueled the male-led push to overthrow U.S. laws banning abortions.
Hugh Hefner used his Playboy Foundation and magazine funded legal challenges to abortion laws and urged readers to press legislators to relax abortion limits.
Hefner, now 87, has said the sexual revolution gave “freedom to both sexes not only in the bedroom, but everywhere else.”
Not all feminists applaud Hefner’s efforts. Legal scholar Katharine MacKinnon points out that abortion “does not liberate women; it frees male sexual aggression.” That’s why, she writes, “the Playboy Foundation has supported abortion rights from day one.”
Today’s “bro-choicers” get that. One blogger openly worried about the chill placed on the sex lives of guys like him by the Texas late-term abortion ban.
“Your sex life is at stake,” he wrote last summer. “Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.”
Fisher also shows in his book that wealthy white males, worried about teeming masses in developing nations, saw abortion as a way to tamp down “growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of,” as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it in a 2009 New York Times interview.
“If you look at the history of Planned Parenthood and the men that were involved in that project,” Fisher said, “they were intentionally trying to further the propagation of what they viewed to be stronger races, primarily white, and trying to diminish races that they viewed as being inferior, primarily black.”
Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wanted to do away with “human weeds” and surrounded herself with likeminded men, chief among them British free-love advocate Havelock Ellis, a “beloved disciple” of Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics. Ellis steered Sanger away from her early support for abortion, advising her, Fisher writes, “that industrial society was not ready to cross that threshold.”
Planned Parenthood did not endorse abortion legalization until 1969, when it was led by Alan Guttmacher, M.D., a population control and eugenics supporter who had served as vice president of the American Eugenics Society.
Wealthy white establishment figure Frederick Osborn, a philanthropist and co-founder of the Population Council and the American Eugenics Society, saw abortion as a way to eliminate unwelcome strains of humanity.
“Birth control and abortion are turning out to be the great eugenic advances of our time,” he said in 1974. “If they had been advanced for eugenic reasons,” he admitted, “it would have retarded or stopped their acceptance.”
Not until men stand up
Fisher argues that what some men started, other men must end.
“I don’t think that abortion will be ended in America until men stand up,” said Fisher, whose organization has helped save more than 1,200 children from abortion in the last three years.
A former executive at one of the nation’s leading fundraising agencies, Fisher stepped into pro-life work full-time in 2011 and now says “it is very difficult picturing me doing anything else until abortion is ended in America and, in fact, worldwide.”
Another life-affirming man, John Barros, has been a full-time presence outside a late-term Orlando abortion facility for the last three years. A widely watched seven-minute video shows Barros urging women entering the Orlando Women’s Center to keep their babies.
About 20 women take his advice each month, he said.
“When you see those girls come out [of the abortion facility] … their faces literally shine like the sun,” said Barros.
Many come back later “with their babies in their strollers,” said Barros.
He hands out flyers and tries to persuade other women not to abort their children.
Barros wants “old guys” like him with time on their hands to follow his lead and “adopt” a local abortion facility to “share the gospel and plead for the lives of unborn babies being led to slaughter,” his website states.
“God calls the men in his Word to be the leaders, to be the ones that go and fight the battles,” said Barros.
Many women in pro-life work, he said, “pray constantly for God to raise up men to come and lead them.”
Fisher thinks that post-abortive men, a sizable population after 55 million abortions in America since 1973, “have the best opportunity to advance the life-affirming cause, more than any other group.”
He believes their honest mea culpas and determination to spare others are what it will take to unwind legal abortion in America.
“We need men to stand up, to protect women, protect their families, protect the families of others in their community and lead,” said Fisher.
When they do, “we will see a quantum leap forward and will see abortion ended in America.”