It was in ‘The One with the Secret Closet’ that the formidable Rachel Green delivered an iconic one-liner of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. sit-com history:
“Okay. No uterus? NO OPINION.”
Reacting to soon-to-be-Dad Ross Geller’s dismissal of the pains of Braxton-hicks contractions, the punchy quip took a humorous stand for all the women who have endured the pains of pregnancy and childbirth without due appreciation from male partners and friends. And quite right she was. Mothers deserve medals for their physical, mental and emotional efforts before, during and after birth in raising the next generation on our planet.
Zoom forward with me a decade or two. Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you’ll know that on Thursday, Alabama became the fifth state to sign an anti-abortion bill into law under a recent pro-life legislative wave.
Queue hysteria on both sides of abortion debate. Before long, Twitter was abuzz. Through the sharp and painful blows dealt by and to women on either side of the cultural war emerged a new, yet time-old question: what should feminism look like in the face of a positive test, and an abortionist’s chair?
Many on the left seized onto the fact that the 25 senators to breathe life into the bill were male. A shared image of their mugshots brought forth the ‘#NoUterusNoOpinion’ trend across Twitter, wrenched from Rachel Green’s context of motherhood and applied to quite the opposite situation. The reference was pushed by celebrity powerhouses like Lady Gaga, and delivered by the masses as a wailing war cry of progressiveness and “choice”. But, easily glossed over is the fact that the boss of these 25 senators– a smart, independent, thinking woman with agency and her own ability to reason – signed and certified that bill into law. She believed in life. She believed that all children – whether a cherished, middle class baby longed for and fawned over; or an innocent being conceived in the most difficult and violent of circumstances – deserved the chance to survive, thrive and make their mark on the world.
I’d love to write that Governor Ivey’s agency has been simply neglected by pro-abortion media reports. In truth, her treatment has been significantly more brutal. An inconvenience to the pro-abortion narrative of sexist oppression, a cartoon drawing of her murder has been circulated – commissioned by white male millionaire Jim Carey – to the glittering applause of almost 90,000 retweets. Feminism? Go figure.
The problem with #NoUterusNoOpinion is that it is actually the least woman-empowering statement you can make. Firstly, it detaches the father from caring about the wellbeing of the mother – no opinion about her health, no opinion about her wellbeing. This could allow men to support an abortion to serve their own interests, despite the procedure having been proven to have adverse mental, physical and emotionally-scarring effects on the woman involved.
Second, the phrase severs the connection men have to the baby for whom they should – they must – take responsibility. It was Democrat darling Barack Obama that once said “Every father bears a fundamental obligation to do right by their children.” In the US, children without fathers are 2x more likely to drop out of high school; at a 4x greater risk of poverty, and 7x more likely to become pregnant as a teen. If more men cared deeply about the children they made; if it was instilled in them that their opinion COUNTS in terms of raising their sons and daughters to be good and kind and true; then surely our society would undergo a revolution more positive than we could even imagine.
When applied in this context, then, ‘#NoUterusNoOpinion’ is fake and flimsy feminism. It institutes a world where men are not responsible for the children we create, and the very basis of human life and dignity is disrespected. It doesn’t serve women and it leaves them groaning under the weight of a responsibility meant to be shared. We all should have an opinion. We all should care, and invest in the littlest beings of our society as well as the women who nourish them in pregnancy. Wouldn’t the world be great if there was no need for abortion, because every father, like Ross, said “I’ll be there for you…”?