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Every Body’s Right: Restoring Reproductive Freedom

Reproductive rights

By Charles Knight

My wife and I were expecting a child in January 1973 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Constitutional Amendment protects the right of a pregnant woman to get an abortion.

At that moment, this newly affirmed reproductive right was not personally essential to us. We had planned the pregnancy.

Nonetheless, we both celebrated the Supreme Court’s unambiguous affirmation of this right. I knew immediately how important this right would be for my wife, myself, our children, and their children. I never doubted it. At the same time, I hoped that my wife would never have to exercise that right.

A few years earlier, we had demonstrated, along with many others, for the right to access birth control free of state restrictions. The distribution of birth control to unmarried women was prohibited in our state – one of those crazy policies legislated by people who claimed they cared about unwanted pregnancy. Within a few years, we won open access to birth control as a reproductive right.

My wife and I have noted that news programs and even pro-choice politicians continue to refer to abortion rights as “a women’s issue.” However, we think it is wrong to imply that women are somehow alone with this interest.

The right to safe and affordable abortion is a human right that serves all sexes and genders. It is an essential part of a broader set of reproductive and sexual rights. Moreover, framing the issue as a women’s issue diminishes the coalition that can mobilize to protect reproductive and gender rights.

In pregnancy, women have the most significant interest at stake. It is the woman’s body that is pregnant. It is not an exaggeration to say that there is no more fundamental interest than control of one’s body. A pregnant woman must have the final say in this most personal and difficult decision about her body.

As a male who values my relationships with women, I have always believed the right to abortion access unencumbered by state institutions was in my interest. It is simply a fact of human biology that unplanned pregnancies are commonplace. It is good to have an option for safe and affordable abortions. It is in the interest of all sexes. Most men want a full menu of reproductive health options for their partners and themselves. Banning abortions is an assault on the freedom of citizens to decide if and when to become a parent.

Today, an anti-choice majority is in power on the Supreme Court. Knowing that this Court will likely back them up, the legislatures in more than a few states are intent on stripping away reproductive, sexual, and gender rights from their citizens.

Men, this is not a moment to sit by and watch from the sidelines. Take action. Do not be afraid to show up. Your voice and your energy are very much needed.

Remember, reproductive, sexual, and gender rights are for every body. That means they are your rights, too.


Charles Knight
Charles Knight

Charles Knight is a North American Men Engage member and a leader in the Greater Boston Men’s Network. 

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