On a Wednesday night in late May, 44-year-old Matt Garbett of Atlanta attended a meeting held by NARAL Pro-Choice America, a prominent abortion-rights group, at the urging of a female friend who is active in the local chapter. A few weeks earlier, both Georgia and Alabama had taken measures to restrict access to abortion.
Garbett had always believed that Americans should have the right to get an abortion, and he’d always voted that way—and until that night, he said, he’d thought that was enough. But what Garbett saw at that meeting startled him. In a “completely packed” room, full of what he estimated to be 80 people, only three were men. Garbett didn’t feel out of place, however; instead, he was “absolutely embraced and welcome,” he told me. “I was, oddly, overly thanked [for being there]. The next day, Garbett voiced his bewilderment in a thread on Twitter. “Last night I attended my first @NARALGA meeting,” he began. “My biggest takeaway: Men... we are not showing up.”
For decades, abortion has been slotted into the category of “women’s issues,” next to other pregnancy-adjacent topics such as contraception access and paid parental leave. Additionally, some abortion rights advocates haven’t wanted men to be particularly involved: A movement focused on women’s autonomy will necessarily prioritize women’s voices. But most pregnancies require a man’s active participation—so it stands to reason that men have a place in the abortion conversation. As the future of abortion becomes more uncertain, some abortion-rights advocates and groups are actively calling for men to join their fight. Where people disagree is over just what men’s place is in the broader debate—and how large it should be.