By Mark Kurowski
What is troubling about the current debate about contraceptives and abortion in the United States today is that it lacks a civility that recognizes contraception is an act between a female and a male. The idea that contraception is only an issue of women’s health is an idea that should be respected, but leaves out the possibility of having the responsibility of males toward women, being concerned about procreation and sensitive to the needs of all children.
Men, according to Church teaching, have a responsibility toward women. They are to respect the personhood of women because God has created them in his image and likeness. To eliminate men from the discussion about contraceptives and abortion runs the danger of men understanding women as objects for sexual pleasure more than persons who could possibly join with them in creating another person.
A lack of male participation in the discussion would encourage the misogyny that we often hear in music and see on television today. Men should be included in the conversation so that assumptions about sexual activity, like those Rush Limbaugh leveled at student Sandra Fluke, would be more shocking in the mediasphere. If men were engaged as a responsible party in the discussion on contraceptives and abortion, we could eliminate the clear lack of sensitivity that Congressman Darrell Issa’s hearing showed.
Because the Scriptures say that when we are married we become one, men and women have a responsibility to each other’s bodies.
We ought to care for each other, be concerned about the needs of the other and reject the idea that just because someone is male means they have no concern for the outcomes of reproductive acts.
This, in turn, would fend off the all too frequent occurrence of “hit and run” pregnancies and children without men who feel a responsibility for their lives. This author knows what it is like to have a man who felt no responsibility for his life. It is an empty and tragic experience for all involved. Removing men from the discussion of pregnancy, contraceptives and abortion keeps them removed from the responsibility of fatherhood.
While my case today is that claiming that men have “nothing to say about this issue of a woman’s body” as Joan Walsh of Salon.com has claimed, is a breach of their God given responsibility and has tragic social implications, I am not standing for the idea that women should be excluded from the discussion. What I am saying is that for society to whole, we need to have a discussion that includes all people with the goal respect and healthy consensus building.
The fact is that we are all in this together. Male issues, female issues, they are all our issues.
Mark Kurowski is the Director of University Ministry at Benedictine University. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and listen to his weekly reflections on the Mass readings at http://ben.edu/ministry under the Catholic Ministries page.