My Boyfriend Doesn't Believe in Abortion Rights!

I recently discovered that my boyfriend of seven months and I have opposing viewpoints on the whole “life begins at conception” issue. He’s not a crazy zealot, but he is strongly against abortion. And while he won’t go so far as to say abortion should be banned, he does believe in the whole “personhood” concept, i.e., that a fetus—from the moment of conception—is a person with the same rights as any other person. This shocked me, and I almost broke up with him. He says that disagreeing on issues is fine in a relationship, but I am not so sure. I find his position abhorrent, one that ignores hundreds of real-life factors, and it opens the door for a litany of laws regulating my body. He’s a sweet, loving guy and progressive in every other way. But I’m suddenly unsure about a relationship I viewed as totally solid just a few days ago. I’m not sure if this should be a deal breaker or if this is just a disagreement. Please advise. —Love Is Finding Errors

Your boyfriend won’t go so far as to say abortion should be banned…or maybe he saw the shocked look on your face and realized that going so far as to say abortion should be banned to you would be a big mistake.

Here’s a good way to find out if your boyfriend is serious about not wanting to impose his personal beliefs on others or whether he’s an anti-choice zealot: Tell him you’re pregnant.

Some men blithely assume anti-choice positions because “personhood” and other anti-choice arguments appeal to them in the abstract and, hey, it’s not like their bodies or their futures are on the line, right? Most anti-choice-in-the-abstract men come to a very different conclusion about the importance of access to safe and legal abortion when an unplanned pregnancy impacts them directly.

So tell your boyfriend you’re pregnant. You can present it as a thought experiment if you prefer, LIFE, but I think you should flat-out lie to him. Then, once the news sinks in, ask him if he’s ready to provide financial support for a child and/or make regular, monthly child support payments directly to you. Ask him if he’s ready for the responsibilities (and the grind) of full- or even part-time parenting. Ask him if he knows you well enough—just seven short months into this relationship—to make the kind of lifetime commitment that scrambling your DNA together entails. Because even if you don’t get married, even if you don’t live together and raise this child together, you two will be stuck with each other for the rest of your lives if you have the baby.

I’m guessing his answers will be “no, no, and no” and he’ll offer to drive you to the nearest abortion clinic himself.

As for whether you should date someone who is anti-choice, well, women have to be in control of their own bodies—and when and whether they reproduce—in order to be truly equal. I don’t think I could date someone who didn’t see me as his equal or who believed that the state should regulate my sexual or reproductive choices. So, yeah, this shit would be a deal breaker for me, LIFE, if I had a vagina.

Actually, this issue is a deal breaker for me, even though I don’t have a vagina. I wouldn’t date a gay dude who was anti-choice. Any gay man who can’t see the connection between a woman’s right to have children when she chooses and his right to love and marry the person he chooses is an idiot. And I don’t date idiots.

If your hypothetical pregnancy doesn’t shock your boyfriend out of his idiocy, LIFE, you’ll have to ask yourself if you can continue dating this idiot.

And speaking of abortion…

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis released the results of a massive study—more than 9,000 women participated—on the effects of making birth control more widely available. And how did they make birth control more widely available? They gave it away for free. And it turns out that making birth control available to women at no cost, which is what the president is trying to do, reduced the teen birth rate by more than 80 percent (from 34.3 births per 1,000 teens on average to 6.3 births per 1,000 for teens enrolled in the study), and it reduced the number of abortions by 62–78 percent (from 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women on average to 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women enrolled in the study).

A person can’t call himself pro-life and oppose access to birth control (or Obamacare!). If you do oppose access to birth control—or you oppose Obamacare because it expands access to birth control—you’re not really pro-life. You’re just anti-sex. —Dan

I found porn on my kid’s computer and I talked to him about being careful about spyware, the difference between actual intimacy and objectification, and that kind of thing. I don’t have a problem with a 15-year-old boy looking at porn—so long as he’s discreet and doesn’t do it to excess. But what my kid was looking at was standard stuff, i.e., garden variety M/F porn and a touch of M/M porn. But a friend found a stash of really kinky violence-against-women stuff on her kid’s computer. I’m thinking a parent can’t let that go as easily. She’s about to confront her kid. I don’t think you can help her with what to say, since she’ll already have said something, but what would you have advised her to say? —My Friend’s Kinky Son

You meet two kinds of people at kink events and in kink spaces: people who’ve always known they were kinky—people who were jerking off to kinky fantasies and/or porn long before they were 15—and people who got into kink after falling in love with someone who was kinky. Your friend’s son sounds like one of the former.

It’s important for your friend to bear in mind that her son, if he is indeed kinky, sought out kinky porn. Kinky porn didn’t make him kinky. And being shamed by his mother for his porn preferences—or his kinks—isn’t going to unmake his kinks.

That said, MFKS, your friend should talk with her son about the difference between porn and real sex—kinky or vanilla—and the difference between erotic power exchange and violence. She should also talk to him about safety and misogyny, and she should encourage him to be thoughtful about his sexuality. And most importantly, MFKS, she should emphasize the importance of meaningful and informed CONSENT.

Your friend’s son isn’t going to want to dialogue with his mom about his porn stash or his kinks, MFKS, so she should go in prepared to monologue at him.

Finally, there’s a chance that your friend’s son isn’t kinky and was just looking for the most appalling shit he could find on the internet. Mom should acknowledge that as a possibility, and her son, even if he is kinky, is likely to seize on that excuse. If he does claim that he was just looking for shocking video clips, she should say: “I believe you. But there’s a small chance that you’re saying that because you think it’s what I want to hear. So I’m going to say everything I wanted to say about safety, misogyny, and consent just in case. And all of it applies to vanilla sex, too.” —Dan Savage

Send your Savage Love questions to mail@savagelove.net.

Our Readers Say

Dan, your advice to LIFE sucked. Lying to your boyfriend about being pregnant is immature and passive aggressive. And the only change will be that he dumps her instead of her dumping him. If she has that big of a problem with it, she needs to tell him that the issue is so important that she's not sure she can be with him and explain why.
Seriously? If LIFE takes your advice I hope it completely backfires on her. You're insane for thinking she should lie to her boyfriend about something like that.
meh. i think Dan has a good point for LIFE. some "thought" experiments never work because people always default to their idealistic, hypothetical-only responses.

and whatever. the guy's a dick. better to get dumped by a dick than forced to bear his child and raise it alone.
Is it not possible to believe that life begins at conception AND also recognize the real-life consequences of such a belief? Dan is right in stating that:

"Some men blithely assume anti-choice positions because “personhood” and other anti-choice arguments appeal to them in the abstract and, hey, it’s not like their bodies or their futures are on the line, right?"

however, what about those men who 1) recognize the impact of an unplanned pregnancy burdens women more than men, 2) support additional access to contraception, and 3) still believe life begins at conception?

I believe life begins at conception but also recognize that our society is not equipped to deal with unplanned pregnancies (or all the eager to prevent them). Believing that life begins at conception is not the "abhorrent" belief - ignoring the unequal consequences of an unplanned pregnancy is.
Yeah dan was trying to be more relevant than he is.
Dan, this is one of those situation where telling LIFE to Dump the MF already would have been the better option here. Relationships built on distrust and deception are doomed to fail. If she feel this issue is important for her, she need to have a heart to heart with him. If that doesn't work, then the dump the MF already should be applied here!
Dan, your advice the LIFE is a miss. Lying to her boyfriend about being pregnant will very likely backfire. She should leave or stay - her choice. But, the lie is likely a bad move.

Also, you wrote, "...women have to be in control of their own bodies—and when and whether they reproduce—in order to be truly equal [to men]." This is an odd statement considering the fact that a women's complete control of when and whether to reproduce does not make her equal to a man in this sense, it makes her greater than him as it pertains to reproductive control.

Contraception puts women and men on an equal playing field. Both have an opportunity to use it to prevent pregnancy. However, if contraception is not used (or fails) and a woman becomes pregnant, a man, at that instant, loses his control over whether he reproduces. A women, on the other hand, still has the option of abortion (or not) despite what the man may want. And that's fine. But it should not be touted as necessary for reproductive parity.

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