Pro-life men can help women — lecturing and hectoring won’t work

Alveda King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, is in the forefront of the pro-life movement.
Alveda King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, is in the forefront of the pro-life movement. AP

Recently, another man who claims to be pro-life made an incredibly insensitive and stupid comment.

Although Donald Trump has since reversed his position, he said women who obtain an abortion, if illegal, should be punished in some fashion.

This ridiculous statement is right up there with former Missouri Sen. Todd Akin’s claim that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant. But there are three ways that pro-life men can actually help:

▪ Let women take the lead when talking to other women about pro-life issues. Women can understand what other women with crisis pregnancies are going through.

Unfortunately, men like Trump and Akin help perpetuate one of the abortion debate’s greatest myths: that pro-life supporters are just a bunch of old white men who want to control women’s bodies and keep them down.

But if you take a close look at the leadership of the pro-life community, you’ll find a large number of extraordinary women.

Let’s start with Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the active in two pro-life organizations. Another prominent pro-life leader is Abby Johnson, a former award-winning clinic director for Planned Parenthood. And there are many more. King and Johnson both acknowledge and regret their own past abortions — they are speaking from experience.

▪ Offer support, rather than criticism, for women facing crisis pregnancies. Criticizing a woman who is already under stress with an unexpected pregnancy comes across as arrogant and insensitive. The most dedicated people in the pro-life movement have incredible compassion for women experiencing unexpected pregnancies, and only seek to help them.

Up to three-fourths of women who seek abortions do so because they lack the financial means to support a baby, or because they believe having the baby will disrupt their education or career.

Many crisis pregnancy centers offer adoption referral services, childbirth and parenting classes and material help such as diapers, formula and clothing.

Feminists for Life works to bring daycare centers to college campuses so that women don’t have to choose between completing their education and having their children.

Finally, if you want to support women in crisis pregnancies, don’t make harsh cuts to government programs that provide a safety net for poor single mothers. Pro-life men, please put your money where your mouth is on this issue.

▪ Promote a culture of responsible fatherhood. Studies show that women who believe they cannot rely on their partner to help care for their children are more likely to have abortions. Not only that, some studies indicate that up to 70 percent of men facing unexpected pregnancies will pressure their partners to obtain abortions.

The widespread use of birth control, the availability of abortion, and changing cultural expectations about premarital sex have allowed men to take the position that crisis pregnancies are strictly women’s problems. Men can speak to other men about making responsible choices to avoid unexpected pregnancies or providing support when their partners become pregnant.

Of course, I know many pro-life men who are extremely compassionate and who offer support to women in crisis pregnancies by their actions as well as their words. And women undoubtedly bear their share of responsibility when an unexpected pregnancy occurs.

But if you claim to be a pro-life man, yet seem to offer only criticism to women in crisis, don’t expect anyone to listen.

Michelle Daniel Chadwick is an attorney and writer who lives in Dallas.

©2016 The Dallas Morning News