Each time the abortion issue is raised, it is either about the rights of the woman or trying to define when life begins. We go around in endless circles, the right and the left screaming at each other as if saying the same thing over and over and louder and louder will help us move the discussion forward.

The time has come to change the discussion. Instead of talking about the rights of women as if their rights took place in a vacuum, let’s talk about everyone’s rights and everyone’s responsibilities. And instead of trying to end abortion by changing the definition of the beginning of life let’s talk about placing restrictions on abortion, a topic now open for discussion because of the blowback from those who are opposed to sex-selection abortion. It is nigh on impossible for women’s groups who say they are against female genocide for fear they open that door to the slippery slide to be taken seriously. We have to get away from this fundamentalist Manichean thinking.

Today, women have the right to control their bodies. Then they must be held responsible for preventing pregnancy. Which means they must be held responsible for getting pregnant. It is now written in stone that when a woman who becomes pregnant, she has the right to abort without consulting the father. Why, because it is her body. He has no say on this because of our concretizing a woman’s right to choose.

Now, if the woman chooses to carry the child to term and raise this child, the father is responsible for child support, even if he did not want to be a father or if he found out months later as a result of a paternity test that he had become a father. He is a reluctant sperm donor with financial responsibilities. As a society we get annoyed with men who walk away from their children while at the same time we refuse to give men the right to be a parent. This is hypocritical.

Why should a potential father be excluded from the decision to bring his child into the world? That he cannot carry a fetus is not his fault. In the beginning he donated the same amount of DNA as the mother. At that point they are equal partners. We place responsibilities on men without giving them any rights. We give women all the rights without any of the responsibilities. If I were a man I would be screaming at the injustice.

The idea that having an abortion is a private or personal decision is either wishful thinking or delusional. Choosing to abort just as choosing to carry to term affects more than the woman. Why are the feelings and desires of the father not considered worthy of attention, while extended family is ignored. Grandparents have a stake in the future life.

When does a blastocyst become a person? When the being that is born can live ex-utero. Modern science has moved the date back from the eighth month, to the seventh month to the end of the second trimester. There is something very wrong with a society that devalues life so much that it would give anyone carte blanche to end a potential life after 24 weeks except for extreme emergencies because there is always a black swan. This question, “when does life begin?” causes the greatest angst because of religion. We are a secular society. No one religion has the right to dictate the answer. But religion has the right to speak especially when it reminds us of the sacredness of life. We need to be reminded.  Secularists are also in no position to dictate policy because their definition of life excludes the fetus; it is only about the life of the woman.

We are capable in the 21st century of having a discussion about abortion and when life begins. We are facing new cultures in the West that have brought with them  sex-selection abortion and that makes it necessary to question unfettered abortion. We have science to explain when viable life is possible, when abortion should not be allowed-just because. And we have religion to remind us that life is sacred; we are not commodities, yet. I question any group who refuses to even look at this issue. What do they fear?