It’s often said that if men could get pregnant, abortion would not even be an issue. Why? Because politicians (especially those of the GOP) would state that it is 100% the man’s decision to do as he wishes with his own body. Republican Senator James Lankford goes one step further. He says it’s his right to decide what is done with a woman’s body.

Women are the ones who must deal with the consequences of a pregnancy, planned or unplanned. The decision to end a pregnancy is almost always painful, and not one that a woman makes lightly. Well, according to Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford, abortion is a man’s issue – because, to quote a song from an old Monty Python film, “Every sperm is sacred – every  sperm is great.” According to Lankford’s logic, men have every right to control women’s bodies, since they “had something to do with the birth” at least for a few seconds.

While debating whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood, Lankford said on the Senate floor:

I’m a dad of two daughters…I had something to do with the birth as well, and was also there. I was there during the sonograms. My wife and I are extremely close…this is important to us as well…This is not just a women’s issue, this is a  men’s issue as well. Because this is a family issue. And the family is extremely important to all of us.

He added that our “culture has been wrong” in permitting women to have abortions. He believes it is “entirely reasonable” to transfer funding for Planned Parenthood to “organizations who do full women’s health.”

Now, it is admirable that Senator Lankford is so devoted to his family – and apparently, supports “full women’s health” services.  In a perfect world, every woman who winds up carrying a child would have such a support system.  She would have no problem accessing prenatal care services. She would have the assurance that her child, once born, would be fed, sheltered and cared for.  Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect – and the issue of abortion is far more complex than men like Lankford can comprehend. Politicians such as Lankford, who use emotional issues for their own political purposes, see abortion not as a “life” issue, but rather as a “control” issue. If they were truly pro-life, they would ensure that women were able to get prenatal care, and they would stop shredding the social safety net. They would be making certain that the child grew up in a safe and healthy environment.

They aren’t, of course. Randi Rhoades was right when she said that as far as most “pro-life” conservatives are concerned, “Life begins at conception and ends at birth.” Or, in the case of Lankford, it begins the “moment Dad came” (to quote another line from Monty Python). Lankford opposes any kind of guaranteed, government-funded health care (which would reduce the number of abortions). He doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about the environment, nor women other than his wife and daughters (he voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act). He’s against gun control. He’s also voted in favor of providing public schools $110 million a year for the teaching of abstinence.

Based on his voting record, Senator Lankford is concerned only with controlling women’s personal behavior – specifically, their sexual behavior.  If he feels that culture in the US is so wrong, perhaps he’d be happier in Saudi Arabia.

We at the Ring of Fire are in agreement with Senator Barbara Boxer’s response to Lankford: “Keep Uncle Sam out of my private life and my children’s and my grandkids’ and yours. Families will make these decisions with their God, [and] with their doctor.”

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.