There is indeed a gender divide on the abortion debate in Britain…. [O]f the 37% of Britons who favoured a lowering of the 24 week limit (34% supported the status quo) the majority were women. In total, twice as many women as men (49% as opposed to 24%) wanted to see a lower limit. There was also an interesting age difference: among the younger age group (18-24) support for a lower limit stood at 43%, whereas in the two older age groups it was 35%….

This gender distinction seems to be consistent. A… poll in March found an even more dramatic difference, with 35% of men favouring a reduction below 24 weeks and 59% of women doing so….

Pro-choice feminists… almost never acknowledge the perhaps counterintuitive fact that the majority of those who support their position on abortion time-limits are men, and the majority of those who want a reduction are women. Why are men more “feminist” than women, at least in this one area?

Women who favour further restrictions on abortion might well deny the assumption that a pro-choice position is a feminist one, claiming instead that a liberal abortion regime benefits men. If women have easy (and socially unstigmatised) access to abortion, then men may feel less responsibility for the women they get pregnant or for any resulting child.

Men are likely to feel less pressingly the physical and psychological consequences of abortion. So they will be only too happy to concede women’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, and fear the implications for themselves of more legal restrictions.

Such a view is not unknown even in radical feminist circles. Catherine McKinnon once wrote that “abortion facilitates women’s heterosexual availability” and “frees male sexual aggression.”

~ Nelson Jones, pointing out how “the majority of those who want a reduction in abortion time-limits [in the UK] are women,” New Statesman, October 6

[Photo via New Statesman]

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