Ramirez: Men need to talk about abortion
Silicon Valley residents stood up for women's reproductive rights at a May 2022 rally in front of San Jose City Hall. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

Men, let’s talk about abortion. For some of us, this may be a difficult and uncomfortable subject, but we do not have the luxury to remain silent.

The Supreme Court’s cruel decision to overturn Roe v. Wade affects every woman, girl and person capable of becoming pregnant in this country. Millions will suffer medical and economic damage. Many will die from complications arising from pregnancy and from unsafe, illegal abortions. These deaths will be needless and preventable.

The court’s opinion goes even further, signaling its intention to roll back other constitutional rights, including rights to contraception and to gay marriage and relations. The first and foundational right they are attacking, however, is abortion.

I have been profoundly moved hearing the stories of women who required essential reproductive health care and abortion services—and the testimonies of those who were denied access in a pre-Roe nation. Many of these experiences were tragic and traumatic, and all were intensely personal.

Women are under assault by powerful institutions, including their own government, and women are bearing the burden of defending constitutional rights. Abortion and reproductive health care decisions are private, deeply personal decisions that must be left to women and their health care providers.

We witnessed the first major test of what it means to live in a post-Roe nation on Tuesday, Aug. 2. By a 2-1 margin, Kansas voters defeated an amendment to their state constitution that would have removed abortion protections and allowed the state Legislature to institute a full ban. This important victory demonstrates the widespread support for the right to abortion, even in very conservative states. We must work hard to sustain this momentum. This will require the participation and support of men.

As men, we must respect the decisions women make about their bodies and not seek to intervene or interfere, particularly where our input is not requested. As family members and friends, we should be their allies, confidants and strongest supporters as they make these difficult decisions. Now is not the time to impose our own personal views on women.

We, as men, and particularly those of us in positions of power, must stop expecting or demanding that vulnerable people prove to us they are suffering. This is our call to action: to stop watching from the sidelines and to join the fight for justice and equity in any way that those communities ask us to support them. We must no longer place the burden on women and on communities under attack.

To the women who trusted me with their personal experiences: I am amazed by your courage and resilience, and I am honored to stand with you in this fight. To fellow elected officials, and particularly to other men in power: listen, without judgment, to the afflicted communities you represent. Govern with compassion. Stand in solidarity with women and with LGBTQ+ and nonbinary individuals. This is our fight, too.

Lucas Ramirez is mayor of Mountain View.

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