As a young man Donovan Atterberry may have thought of abortion with some discomfort or a vague memory of the anti-abortion protesters he passed on his way to the park.
He realized it when his girlfriend, now his spouse, fell pregnant with their first child. His stepdaughter had a normal pregnancy, but genetic testing revealed a fatal chromosomal defect in their developing foetus. This would most likely lead to a stillbirth, and possibly even put her life in danger during delivery.
Atterberry, 32, recalls that as a man, he didn't know how she would react or how to counsel her. "I said, "If I had to choose," I would choose you. It wasn't about whether I believe or not in abortion. "I was thinking about her whole life at that point."
Atterberry stated that she chose to end her pregnancy because it "changed my whole perspective...on bodily autonomy, and things of that kind."
He is now a voting engagement organizer for New Voices for Reproductive Justice. This organization focuses on Black women's health, including access to abortion.
He stated, "What I'm trying convey is that it is a human right for an individual to have a choice."
It's not unusual for Atterberry to be a man who supports abortion rights. According to polls, most American men support some degree of access to abortion. History is full of men who played active roles in supporting abortion through organizations and as legislators, or as providers in the case Dr. George Tiller's case. In 2009, an anti-abortion extremist from Kansas assassinated Tiller in church.
Atterberry states that there are still many people who want to be involved in the political debates about abortion access.
Men have played a significant role in pushing for and enacting restrictions on abortion. This has been done as advocates, state elected officials, and, most recently, as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Justice Samuel Alito wrote a draft for a high court ruling which would reverse 1973 Roe v. Wade, which established a nationwide right of abortion. Draft of the high court ruling was leaked to media outlets last month. It appears that the draft had the support of six of the nine men on the nine-justice court.
For obvious reasons, women have always led the fight for abortion rights. They are the ones who give birth, and they are often the ones who care for the children once they arrive in the world.
David Cohen, a Drexel University law professor who specializes in gender and law, stated that no one is asking for this leadership to be changed.
He said, "Men shouldn't be trying to control the movement or remove leadership positions." Men can and should participate in the movement by supporting, listening, and being active.
Oren Jacobson, the co-founder of Men4Choice in 2015, said that the focus is on getting millions of men, who are in theory pro-choice, but who are passive when it comes down to their voice, their energy, and their time in fighting for abortion rights and access, to step up and join the fight as allies.
It wasn't an easy task.
He said that abortion is almost never discussed in male circles, unless it is brought up by someone who has been affected by the topic. "Not only is that, but you're also talking about a highly stigmatized topic in society. Talking about sex, sexuality, anatomy is not something that men feel comfortable discussing.
It is something that they experience and influences the culture in which they live, says Barbara Risman, sociology professor at University of Illinois at Chicago.
She said that "sexuality has become integrated into our lives, regardless of whether we're married." "This is directly related to women's control over fertility, and women don't control fertility in a world that bans abortion. ... Heterosexual sexual freedom depends on the ability to end an unplanned pregnancy.