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“We Believe That Access to Abortion Is a Basic Human Right”

The gutting of Roe is a galvanizing moment in American history—and one that urgently requires men to speak up. The Roe Project gathers the diverse perspectives of men united in the belief that access to reproductive health care is essential. We hope that by sharing their experiences and their points of view, we can mobilize more men to fight for abortion access.

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Illustration by Vanessa Saba; photographs by Getty Images

In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion in America. Since the initial ruling, trigger laws have gone into effect in many parts of the country, criminalizing the procedure for millions. Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill this month that would fully ban abortion after 15 weeks on a federal level.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, I heard from women who pointed out that most men weren’t affirming support or otherwise acknowledging that this was their problem too. And as we approach the midterm elections, the stakes are high. I took that feedback seriously. We always talk about GQ as a community platform—a platform that we invite others to stand on so that they have the opportunity to be heard. The Roe Project is our way of giving the men in our community the opportunity to speak out in support of abortion rights.

On a personal level, one of the many reasons this issue is important to me is that my wife, Heidi, and I are childless by choice. In order to make that choice and to live that choice, we rely on access to health care—and believe that access to reproductive health care is a fundamental human right. When you follow the debate around abortion, you often hear people say things like, “If you don’t want to become pregnant, don’t make the choices that would lead to pregnancy.” Heidi and I have been married nine years. Can you imagine how that sounds to us? And how it sounds to people who are in far more complex or disempowered circumstances? When you’ve been married nine years, and you’ve chosen not to have kids, and somebody’s telling you not to make decisions that would lead to a pregnancy—and legislation and judicial rulings are echoing that perspective—that opinion has invaded your bedroom. It has invaded the most intimate conversations and biggest life decisions between you and your partner. It has invaded your freedom.

So I’m sharing my perspective because these decisions affect Heidi and me. They affect us and everyone we know and everyone we don’t know.

I want to add that I respect the opinions of people who believe that abortion is wrong. It’s easy for me to put myself in someone else’s shoes and understand that point of view. I respect people who, if faced with an unwanted pregnancy, would feel morally obligated to have the child. I believe that choice is fundamentally theirs and theirs alone to make, and I have no opinion whatsoever on what they should decide.

The important thing, however—and what’s at stake politically right now—is that everyone in America deserves the same respect. The same fundamental freedom. Everyone deserves the right to choose. —Will Welch, GQ Global Editorial Director


“My 81-year-old mother is somehow going to enjoy more reproductive freedom for the majority of her life than my daughter.” 

By Douglas Emhoff

This is one of the only times in our history that a fundamental, well-established right has been taken away by an activist court. It’s just completely inappropriate on so many levels. It has angered me from the time the draft opinion came out. I’m trying to channel this anger into action, but the first thing I thought about was my daughter Ella, who’s 23, and her grandmother Barbara, who’s 81. Think about it: My 81-year-old mother is somehow going to enjoy more reproductive freedom for the majority of her life than my daughter. That’s just not okay. And I’m going to do everything I can for as long as I can to make sure that gets rectified.

Now that I’m in this position, I have a microphone and I have access to talk to some folks. I’ve spoken with doctors and leaders in the medical profession, and you realize it’s not just about abortion, it’s about health care in general. Because of the absurdity of this Dobbs decision, it has wreaked havoc on the medical profession. You’ve got doctors with women on operating tables having to call risk management or a lawyer or an insurance company before they can move forward with lifesaving care. It’s just completely, completely inappropriate.

My wife, the vice president, was on Air Force Two flying to an event when the news hit. She was able to watch it and she was able to call me. She said something like, “Dougie, they actually did it.” And I gotta tell you something, she was incensed. Almost immediately after, I got a text from my daughter, who was also outraged, that said, “Dad, you need to do something about this.” I just want to channel the rage that they’re feeling and the rage that I’m feeling into action. Not only as a lawyer and as second gentleman, but as a dad and as a husband, as a son, as a brother, for all the very important women in my life.

I think by and large, it’s a topic men just don’t like to think about or talk about. But even more importantly, many men don’t believe it’s an issue for men. They think it’s just a quote-unquote women’s issue. And I couldn’t disagree more. It’s one of the things I really try to get out there and advocate for. Not only abortion, but a lot of issues that men traditionally wouldn’t think impact them: whether it’s pay equity, childcare, or family leave. They’re human issues. They’re American issues. They’re issues that men need to care about because everything is related. Everything impacts something else. Lastly, it’s the right thing to do. We just need to support each other.

Douglas Emhoff is a lawyer and, as the husband of vice president Kamala Harris, the second gentleman of the United States.

“My wife, Amanda, had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured while we were playing a show in Texas a year ago. She could have very easily died. It was a very, very frightening situation.”

By Jason Isbell

I grew up in a very religious place around very religious people who were very much against abortion in all forms. And over time I came to my own conclusion that I think a woman should be able to make those decisions for herself.

The root of the issue is: Do you believe that a fertilized egg is a human? I don’t believe that. I think that it’s part of a woman’s body. And so I think that a woman should be allowed to make decisions based on that information.

My wife, Amanda, had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured while we were playing a show in Texas a year ago. At that point in time, she was still able to go to the ER and have the procedure done without having to wait for the doctors to contact a lawyer and make sure they could legally take this thing out of her body that was very clearly not a viable pregnancy by any means. She could have very easily died. She was very close to death because it ruptured and she had a lot of internal bleeding and she was in a whole lot of pain. It was a very, very frightening situation.

I think if people would just tell the truth, that would help a whole lot. Because a whole lot of us men have benefited from women having the right to choose. And if you don’t know that you’ve benefited from that, the reasons could either be that a woman was too kind to tell you or that she was afraid to tell you. This is the privilege of ignorance. If by some chance we could reveal all the men who have benefited from an abortion, it would become very clear and obvious just what a woman’s right to choose does for society in general.

Jason Isbell is a Grammy Award–winning musician who lives in Tennessee.

“This is a frightening movement toward dehumanization.”

By Michael Imperioli

The recent Supreme Court ruling takes away important human rights that have been fought long and hard for. This is a frightening movement toward dehumanization. Removing human rights is what they do in oppressive regimes to dominate, control, persecute, and eliminate opposition in people who don’t think the way that the ruling powers do.

Abortion is an important aspect of reproductive health care. And the decisions that you make in regards to one’s own health should be left to the individual. I don’t think men, trans men being the exception, should be involved at all in the legal decisions concerning abortion: not as judges, lawmakers, or even as voters.

I also think it’s very scary when people want to impose their religious beliefs on a nation. This is not an exclusively Christian nation. We have people with all different kinds of religions. And people with no religion. We are a nation founded on the separation of church and state. If you have a philosophical, ethical, or religious belief that abortion is wrong, I can respect that. But that doesn’t mean your belief has to dictate what everyone else has to do. If you are against abortion, then don’t get one.

Michael Imperioli is an actor, a writer, and a director.

“We’re endangering people’s health. We’re traumatizing people. We’re doing unnecessary and irreparable harm.”

By Saeed Jones

I was raised by a single mom and I always felt like we should trust women to make decisions about their own bodies. But from that introduction, I really did have to grow into a deeper understanding of what reproductive health is really about. It’s about being able to control your body, being able to make decisions about your own destiny and how you want to live. As a gay Black man, I should be able to make decisions about my sexuality and my relationships. That’s absolutely connected to someone with a uterus being able to make decisions about whether or not they want to be pregnant.

I was reading that there’s an abortion clinic in Dayton, Ohio, which is about an hour and a half from where I live. They might have to close depending on a law or policy that’s currently being contested in the courts. You realize that the people that this will impact most are the people who don’t have as many means. Do you have the time to take off from your job and drive? It used to be a 20-minute drive. Now you’ve got to go to another state and stay overnight. We’re endangering people’s health. We’re traumatizing people. We’re doing unnecessary and irreparable harm.

I haven’t talked about this much before, but my mom, who died about a decade ago, died of heart disease. She struggled with heart disease her entire life. I learned that when I was two or three years old, she was pregnant with what would have been a sibling. She was very enthusiastic about the pregnancy, but ultimately had to have an abortion to save her own life. Her heart couldn’t take it. That was the medical advice. I’m told that it was very, very difficult. She was really looking forward to having a second child, but that was the decision that had to be made, and she was able to make that decision. Over the course of her life, my mother lived in the states of Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia. And so, I can’t help but think about how the politics of those states would have impacted her ability to make decisions about her own health care.

There’s something about other people being able to control those levers of power that’s so condescending. Do they think people who are having to make vital decisions about reproductive justice in their own bodies are taking this lightly? No, these are really thoughtful, important decisions that are being made. Our country’s relationship to the patriarchy assumes that if you have a uterus you’re not capable enough to make these decisions for yourself. To think about my mom being in one of these situations where she would be forced to go to term with a pregnancy that she wouldn’t survive? That’s a death sentence. And we know, of course, Black women in particular already are really struggling to get the health care they need so that they can survive pregnancy.

Saeed Jones is a writer, a poet, and the author of How We Fight for Our Lives.

“I was raised to understand the right to reproductive health care as foundational for all of us.”

By Alexander Chee

My mother, a registered Independent, turned her back on the Republican Party over their changed stance on abortion in the late 1970s, after a fundraiser at the Bush family compound—we lived in southern Maine then. She spoke to Barbara Bush about her concern over the Republican Party’s embrace of evangelicals and their new anti-abortion stance, and the future first lady apparently said, “It’s just to get elected,” which offended my mom. A lifelong feminist, she had a friend who died in the early 1960s from an illegal abortion, and had helped another friend escape her marriage because her husband would not use birth control. After my younger sister’s birth, my father got a vasectomy—my parents had three children by then and that was all they wanted. I was raised to understand the right to reproductive health care as foundational for all of us.

Alexander Chee is a writer and the author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.

“It shouldn’t ever be a thing, where we have to justify why a woman’s getting an abortion.”

By Tremaine Emory

I believe access to abortion is a basic human right. It’s a perilous journey, having a child. That’s something a woman needs to feel good about, whatever her reasons are. Also women should not have to really answer why they want to have an abortion. It’s their bodies.

We live in a patriarchal world. So on top of that, men are going to decide what women should do with their bodies? It’s just nuts. It should be a nonissue and it should be a choice of each individual woman. Not her community, not her family, not her boyfriend, not her husband, not her father.

It shouldn’t ever be a thing, where we have to justify why a woman’s getting an abortion. I feel like that’s a thing that happens too much: “This is why she needs to get an abortion.” “This is why it’s justified.” It’s justified because the woman wants to. That should be where it starts from.

I think there’s a severe lack of education about what women go through as far as childbearing, miscarriages, and abortion. All the complications that can come with having a child, getting pregnant, trying to get pregnant, raising children. Breastfeeding, physically having a child. When people don’t have education, they lack empathy and compassion and understanding. The key to compassion and empathy isn’t just being a loving, good person. It’s having education and knowledge of what someone else is going through that you don’t go through.

Men have to hold other men accountable and hold themselves accountable. And educate themselves about this abortion issue. Learn. Just actually learn. And also know that you’re not a woman. I’m not saying my opinion doesn’t matter, but I’m not a woman. I’m never going to have a baby, so maybe my opinion doesn’t matter.

Tremaine Emory is the creative director of Supreme.

“I don’t go to a rabbi for a colonoscopy. In the same way, I don’t go to the Bible for jurisdiction over abortion.”

By Josh Gondelman

Every person who can become pregnant should have the option to have an abortion, if that is their choice. And it should be within geographical and financial accessibility for them. I think it’s a subset of health care, and health care is a right that people should have.

I try to be pretty vocal about the topic. I’m always trying to figure out, in any given instance, whether it is more helpful for me to use my own voice or to amplify the voice of others and decenter my own point of view. But I also don’t want to feel like a loser coward retweeting someone, and then letting people be like, “die,” to them. That doesn’t seem right either. Figuring out what the lane is that we want men in is helpful. I think abortion funds are probably some of the forms of aid that I donate money to most frequently, and spotlighting those is really helpful.

This is not breaking new ground, but it’s so hypocritical when religion dictates what other people can do with their own bodies. First of all, the Jewish religion says that people should have access to abortion in many, if not all cases. Also, we’re talking about medical advice. I don’t go to a rabbi for a colonoscopy. In the same way, I don’t go to the Bible for jurisdiction over abortion. The people who are making laws based on this are doing so in that rich tradition of American theocracy under the banner of “Judeo-Christian values.” Well, who said those are everybody’s values here anyway? And keep the Judeo out of your Christian values.

Josh Gondelman is a comedian, an author, and an Emmy Award–winning writer.

“I think the idea that something has to affect you personally to be relevant or important is kind of how we got here.”

By Thomas Page McBee

I was washing dishes when I heard that Roe was struck down. I knew it was coming, but it didn’t make me feel any less sick to hear about it. I thought about my mom, who died a few years ago and was really involved with feminist causes, and I thought about how I was raised. I thought about how blatantly this felt like an attack on everybody I know. And about how we can be living in a time of expanded awareness and conversation about gender and the history of gender-based violence and, at the same time, be in a moment where that expanded awareness seems to be creating such a disgusting backlash.

In the grandest sense, we all have a right to control what we do with our bodies. And we are dealing with a group of people who have consolidated power around trying to make sure that some people have control and some people don’t. From the most basic sense of the term, I think access to abortion is a human right because access to bodily autonomy is a human right.

Of course trans men and nonbinary people can become pregnant and are often erased from the conversation and from protection. I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are trans men and non-binary people who are affected by this. And simultaneously, I try to hold the reality that when people are attacking the right of women to access abortion care, it is part of the legacy of wanting to make sure these women in particular don’t have access to care.

I’m a man with cis-passing privilege and I move through the world with the benefits of that. And I just don’t understand how, as a man, one can see this happen and not feel such an urgent sense of responsibility. I think the idea that something has to affect you personally to be relevant or important is kind of how we got here.

I also think there’s a masculinity issue more broadly. It’s okay to be a man who defends the women in your life because it upholds a kind of patriarchal sense that your duty is as a protector. But when it comes to standing up for women and people who can give birth, there’s something that’s also a little bit fragile, masculinity-wise: that by taking that stand, it aligns you with women and the feminine. And that’s something that’s not typically rewarded in masculinity broadly. I think plenty of men probably are thinking, “I shouldn’t be raising my voice. I should let women do it.” I don’t know. I think you probably need to do a little soul searching.

Thomas Page McBee is a writer and the author of Amateur: A Reckoning With Gender, Identity, and Masculinity.

“The writing’s not just on the wall. The wall is caving. The wall is falling down. There’s no time right now to not be vocal about it.”

By Isaac Fitzgerald

I one hundred percent believe that access to abortion is a human right. And I believe that for a myriad of different reasons, the main one being that I believe in science and I’ll always be a big believer in science. It’s a fundamental part of living one’s life to be able to do family planning. And that does not just benefit the individual. It benefits society as a whole.

This is not a new thing. Abortion has been around since the dawn of humans. What is new is that it has been politicized. What is new is that it has become a fundraising tool. The fact of the matter is that abortion has always been here.

Men love to talk about so much. Oh, we love to talk. But in this one aspect, I do think even those who have the best intentions when it comes to abortion rights get a little nervous. I can admit to that myself. But the more you don’t talk about something—well, then that’s how we get into the situation that we’re in right now. The writing’s not just on the wall. The wall is caving. The wall is falling down. There’s no time right now to not be vocal about it. The more voices are felt, the more people that are showing up to marches, the more people that are putting pressure on their representatives, the better off we’re all going to be.

You don’t have to make a statement and knock it out of the park and say the perfect thing. Just speak up and join the conversation. And it’s okay to then shut up for a little bit and listen as well. But if you’re like, “Well, I’m just not going to say anything. That’s the safest bet.” No. Lend your voice to this cause. And I’m not just talking about performatively on social media and stuff like that. Talk with people in your life.

Isaac Fitzgerald is a writer and the author of Dirtbag, Massachusetts.

“Restricting access to abortion and reproductive freedom is part of how cis men have been able to hold and consolidate power.”

By Chase Strangio

I was assigned female at birth and grew up understanding that I could become pregnant. I have never conceptualized abortion as independent of demands for bodily autonomy and freedom. There’s such a weird political sense of separating reproductive justice from queer justice and this idea that queer people don’t need access to reproductive health care, which is obviously absurd. There are so many trans-masculine people who have sex with cis men and trans women, or have other forms of sex that may result in pregnancy, and there’s so little information in the community around the ways in which people may become pregnant. For a queer community that is generally really on top of information about sexual health, it’s been really shocking, to me at least, to see the gaps in understanding around pregnancy and abortion access.

I don’t think people see the connection between the two, which is in part because the right wing—or people who are opposed to trans justice and queer justice and abortion access—have a very significant interest in keeping our movements separated and to denying the solidarity that we could build with each other. And so we have to overcome a structural imperative that is benefiting from division.

The more critical conversation that cis men in particular need to be having is that restricting access to abortion and reproductive freedom is part of how cis men have been able to hold and consolidate power. I want to see men naming that—all of the structural ways that they have benefited from how difficult it is for people who can become pregnant to control their reproductive freedom.

Chase Strangio is an attorney and transgender rights activist and the Deputy Director for Transgender Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union. 

“Our present, and our future, was made possible by an abortion.”

By Grant Hughes

I grew up in small town Oklahoma, a very conservative state with a political culture that teaches “abstinence first” as the sole curriculum for sex-ed and family planning. My family, however, took a common sense, science-first approach. Nevertheless, when I was younger, and my then-girlfriend ended our relationship, I was still stunned when she called to tell me she was pregnant. Despite the mix of emotions, I took solace in the fact that our right to privacy, and our eventual abortion were all legal, and protected. But if I were that same Grant, in small town Oklahoma today? My reality would be vastly different. In a post-Roe world, thanks to the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, that right does not exist in Oklahoma.

Under these new laws, men bear no consequence for getting someone pregnant while women could face felony charges if they terminate their pregnancy. Yet no woman in this situation gets pregnant on her own. And all of us men receive the equal benefit of abortion care. If not for the rights that my former partner had at the time, to make the best choice for herself then—a choice I supported and benefited from—the lives we are both living now would not be possible. Mine, with my wife—my soulmate, the woman who makes me infinitely happy—would not exist.

Our present, and our future, was made possible by an abortion. One in my past. I never would have been traveling years later, in just the right place at just the right time, where I met my now wife, if that autonomy had been denied. My former partner wouldn’t have met her forever person, with whom she would raise kids and build an incredible life.

For that reason and many more, I’m outraged, in pain, frustrated, and deeply saddened that women are being treated as if they can’t be trusted to make their own medical decisions and as though their lives don’t matter. I want to remind men that it’s our responsibility and always has been—though we’ve perhaps ignored or avoided it—to stand up, to speak up, and to protect women. Both the ones we love intimately and the ones we don’t personally know. It’s their choice, not the choice of a governing body far removed from the individual’s or the couple’s circumstance. I had a choice in my future. I want you to have one too.

Grant Hughes is an entrepreneur and is married to the actor Sophia Bush.

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