What My Partner’s Abortion Taught Me
Abortion rights are not just a women’s issue. More men should say so.
My partner wasn’t supposed to get pregnant. That’s why she had an IUD — to prevent the pregnancy we both agreed we didn’t want. Liz and I have been together for years, and though we had discussed the idea of having children, we knew we weren’t ready — at least not yet.
And yet there we were last fall, two New Yorkers in a Utah emergency room during an out-of-state trip, holding a brand new sonogram printout. Near the top, a nurse had drawn a white arrow pointing to the six-week-old embryo, and labeled it in big block letters: “BABY.”
We had spent the day rushing to the hospital, worried that a failed IUD might be life-threatening for Liz. We quickly found out that Liz’s life was not in danger, to our immense relief, but we were less confident about her rights. The day of our emergency room visit happened to be on October 7, 2018. And just a day earlier, two thousand miles away, in Washington, D.C., Brett Kavanaugh had been sworn in as a Supreme Court justice.
A darling of the anti-abortion movement, Kavanaugh had written opinions strongly signaling his interest in weakening Roe v. Wade, if not outright reversing it. Many predicted his appointment would open the floodgates for Republican attacks on reproductive rights, and they weren’t wrong. In the months since Kavanaugh took the bench, at least eight states, including Utah, have rolled out draconian restrictions criminalizing abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Some threaten life in prison for women and physicians who fail to comply.
Liz was at least six weeks pregnant, which meant under those new laws an abortion would have made her a felon, facing a jail sentence up to 99 years — as would the doctor who performed the procedure. Under another new law in Georgia, had we been residents and left the state to obtain a legal abortion elsewhere, we’d both be eligible for long prison sentences.
Sitting in her hospital bed in Utah, Liz asked whether I was okay with an abortion. My answer was twofold: First, I agreed with her choice. A baby was the last thing I was ready for. Second, and more importantly, while I appreciated being asked, my opinion didn’t matter. Her…