Years ago, I counseled a young couple, both more aware than most about the risks and rewards of sexual activity. They asked lots of questions. I listened. They both talked. “We want this. We don’t want that. This makes sense to us, but how does that make sense?”

Susan Young, MSEd, MSC, lives happily in retirement and hopes to see more of her grandkids in 2022.

They used the pronouns “we” and “us.” Mature, not impulsive, in love, full of both hormones and caution, they stood in solidarity with each other. After much discussion of values, ethics, love, intimacy, responsibility and weighing wants and needs, I referred them to an agency that specialized in such questions. They went together.

They arrived at the center. The receptionist pointed to a chair in the waiting room and said to the young man, “You wait here.”

The young woman said, “No, I want him with me. This takes two.”

The care person said, “We rarely see the boys. We hardly ever see the men.”

I loved the bold truth-telling of that young woman: “Sex takes two.” She echoed the wise child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” who spoke the facts that others ignored. I loved the care in that young man. I felt the we, the us, the together, the it-takes-two.


This latest round of talks about Roe v. Wade seems partly about punishing women if they “get pregnant.” Can women do that on their own? Not only do women get pregnant; they are also impregnated. Don’t many couples say, “We are pregnant, we are having a baby, we are starting a family”? (I know, women get morning sickness, weight gain, labor pains.) Yet are we ignoring the primary pregnancy-making role of fathering in these discussions?

If we jail women if they end a pregnancy, what does this teach our young men and young women?

Pregnancy takes two. It takes a “we.” And so, why is it women who might be jailed for “terminating”? Why does the “we,” the other accountability – half of the pregnancy – not stand trial, too, if there is one?

Why are men encouraged to “sow their wild oats,” as ads for insurance-covered Cialis and Viagra imply, invited into sexual activity and easily able to prevent pregnancy with condoms sold over the counter? Yet a woman cannot easily prevent pregnancy because all insurance companies do not cover birth control pills, pharmacies often don’t carry all brands and some women can safely take only one kind. It is a thorny maze for women to find coverage and protection. Insurance does not cover morning-after pills, which are not always available and often not legally available. What are we teaching girls and boys? Men get a free pass and move on, unknown? And what happens to the impregnated woman? Do we treat men and women equally in this? Or do we blame women and hold them solely responsible for baby-making?

Perhaps pro-life might not be the best term to describe the anti-abortion movement. Whose life are we “pro”? Which life? The words pro-birth might be better because pro-life would mean pro-life for all of us, wouldn’t it? What are we teaching our children and grandchildren? Amanda Gorman starts a beautiful poem, “When the penalty for rape is less than the penalty for abortion after the rape … ”

Wait! What? Why do the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy land only with the woman? How does that make sense? Why aren’t we treated the same?

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