Let me borrow a slogan from the feminist pro-choice movement: “Keep your laws off my body!” The idea behind it is that a woman should not be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term; that a pregnancy deeply affects her body, and no one else has the right to dictate what happens to her body.
This school of thought sees choice in pregnancy as an integral part of freeing women from the oppression of centuries. Male pregnancy is simply the other side of the coin. If we already have sexual reassignment, in which a person born in a man’s body can have it changed into a female body, or the reverse, then clearly the boundaries between genders, and more importantly gender roles, are not so cut-and-dried as was once thought.
Add to this the increasing recognition of intersexed people – that is, people with both male and female physical characteristics – and it no longer makes sense to insist on rigid gender divisions. Most intersexed people function only as one or the other – a boy affected by the former anti-miscarriage drug Depo, born with female genitalia, is still a boy.
Likewise, a girl affected by in utero exposure to androgens, with vestigial testes, is still a girl. But in extremely rare cases, there are born fully-functional hermaphrodites, that is, intersexed people with two complete sets of reproductive organs, one male, one female.
On one of my online forums, I read a post written by such a person. Although she identified as female, during her puberty, she had several “virgin” pregnancies – that is, her male reproductive system spontaneously impregnated her female one. Those pregnancies all ended in miscarriage, but they do show what is possible.
Would we debate whether a fully intersexed person “should be allowed” to get pregnant? Sadly, I fear many people would – those who fear whatever is different from what they are used to. That, I am convinced, is the only reason there are so many more articles written on the “no” side of this debate: people experience a visceral shock reaction, and form opinions accordingly.
One would think that in these times, when the role of fatherhood is being re-examined, there would be more enlightened thought about this. We are coming to recognize that a man can be as nurturing with his children as a woman. Many children have warm, close relationships with their fathers, or with suitable father-substitutes.
That leaves the question of breastfeeding. Even if we did not have infant milk replacement formula, it is known that with the proper stimulation, men are capable of lactation.
Ever since I was a child, my mother used to tell me the story of a man lost in the Australian outback with his baby; he pacified the baby’s crying by putting it up to his breast and letting it suck, and by the time they were rescued, he was producing milk.
So the only remaining obstacles are
(1) that men lack a uterus and ova, and
(2) that men’s pelvic bones are not wide enough to allow a baby’s head to pass.
But the second problem is solved by the straightforward expedient of Caesarian section, a common enough procedure even in female pregnancy. So if a viable uterus could be surgically implanted, I see no reason why he should not be allowed to use it for its intended purpose. So, all you men out there who would like to get pregnant, join the pro-choice feminists in their battle cry, “Keep your laws off my body!”