Gabrielle Blair says she titled her book Ejaculate Responsibly “because I’m trying to shift the conversation about abortion away from controlling women’s bodies and legislating women’s bodies, and instead focus on the fact that men are not held accountable for causing unwanted pregnancies.”
A mother of six who describes herself as a prochoice Mormon, Blair told NPR, “I know that people will be more likely to listen to me that might have differing political opinions” knowing those facts about her. “I’m comfortable identifying with both of those.”
For Blair, the thesis of her book is unassailable. “[W]ho wants men to ejaculate irresponsibly? Who’s going to argue for that?” she asks. As a society she says we should be placing more emphasis on “men understanding that they are causing these pregnancies. That sperm causes pregnancy. That ejaculation is voluntary, while ovulation is involuntary. If you’re sincerely interested in reducing abortion…there is nothing in this book that you wouldn’t be cheering about.”
What follows is an excerpt from Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion.
If a man ejaculates irresponsibly and causes an unwanted pregnancy, he faces zero consequences. He can walk away at any time, and our current culture doesn’t really do much—or anything?—to discourage it.
It’s All on the Woman
If the woman wants to take Plan B to prevent a pregnancy, it’s on the woman to procure it and pay for it—from her own funds, or by asking for money from someone else.
If the woman decides to have an abortion, the man may never know he caused an unwanted pregnancy with his irresponsible ejaculation—and it’s still on the woman to make arrangements and pay to get one (again, from her own funds, or by asking for money from someone else — and that’s assuming she can get herself to a state where it is legal).
If the woman decides to raise the baby but doesn’t tell the man, or relinquishes the baby for adoption, he may never know that there’s now a child walking around with 50 percent of his DNA.
If the woman does tell the man that he caused an unwanted pregnancy and that she’s having the baby, the closest thing to a consequence for him is that he may need to pay child support. But our current child support system is well known to be a joke.
Men are responsible for almost all child support
Men make up 85 percent of child support providers, and only 43.5 percent of parents report receiving the full amount of child support due. And, an estimated $10 billion in child support payments go uncollected each year. In cases where men won’t pay to support a child, theoretically, women have legal recourse and can force a man to pay child support, but, again, the system makes it extremely hard. It is up to the mother to pay to prove paternity, pay a lawyer, and fight for child support in court.
Keep in mind these court battles are unreasonably hard to manage for someone who just had a baby—a baby whom they are trying to feed and care for. And ultimately, even if she puts in the time and pays the years of legal fees, most women never collect all the money anyway. If she does manage to collect, the average child support order is $400 a month, which is obviously not even close to what it takes to house and clothe and feed and educate a child—to say nothing about the temporal, emotional, and physical costs of raising a child.
Our society is set up to protect men from the consequences of their own actions. Our laws and policies could not be better designed to protect men who abandon the pregnancies they cause.
I had a conversation with a long-time social worker about this, and she listed eight ways that men face no consequences and are not held responsible for their ejaculatory actions.
- There are no laws that require the father to pay child support without a court order. It’s not automatic.
- In many states, credit scores are not affected by failure to pay child support.
- Fathers aren’t fired from their jobs for impregnating a woman.
- Fathers are not billed for any medical expenses for the pregnancy or the child. In at least two states, fathers can be legally required to pay for at least 50 percent of pregnancy-related medical costs.
- Fathers don’t have to take unpaid weeks or months off work for pregnancy complications or childbirth.
- Fathers don’t lose a cent in wages for impregnating a woman.
- Fathers aren’t generally required to pay any funeral expenses for a deceased child. At least two states consider it the responsibility of both parents to pay.
- If fathers choose to walk out at any point—before or after the child is born— there are no societal consequences for abandoning the child.
There are little to no repercussions for skipping out. So, many men keep going along, causing unwanted pregnancies with irresponsible ejaculations and never giving it a thought. When the topic of abortion comes up, they might think: Abortion makes me uncomfortable. Women should not choose abortion. And they never once consider the man who caused the unwanted pregnancy.
Excerpt adapted from Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion by Gabrielle Blair. Workman Publishing © 2022.
Men: It’s in Your Hands
Men have full control of whether or not they cause a pregnancy in that only a man can decide whether he’s going to release sperm and where he’s going to release the sperm. That’s always his choice. And so if men didn’t want to cause a lot of pregnancies, they could easily stop causing unwanted pregnancies. They could reduce or eliminate abortions out of unwanted pregnancies simply by ejaculating responsibly. They could do this without touching abortion law, without even mentioning women. They could do this completely, just by again choosing to ejaculate responsibly or legislating… responsible ejaculation, if that’s what they want to do. They choose not to. They choose to focus on women.
If you included free vasectomies among all the birth control choices and made them free and easily accessible that would be huge…I think the other thing we need is a social campaign that talks about the reality of vasectomies. They are much safer than tubal ligations, which is the comparable form of [permanent] birth control for women. Vasectomies are much less risky, but there are far more tubal ligations performed in our country than vasectomies, because there are a lot of myths and stigmas around vasectomy. Men really worry that they’re not going be able to feel the same during sex, that their erection won’t feel the same, that their orgasm won’t be the same, and they don’t want to risk that.
I get it. But when you talk to an actual urologist, when you talk to men who have had vasectomies, these concerns really dissipate quickly…I think it could become an assumption that men are going to ejaculate responsibly, they’re going to have a vasectomy, they’re going to use a condom—that this is just a given that they’re going to ejaculate responsibly. And I think we can get there. I know we can.
Excerpted from an interview with NPR.