Opinion: Men shouldn't vote in an abortion referendum

OPINION: Forty years of New Zealand women ducking the law to pursue healthcare could soon come to an end.

The Abortion Legislation Bill was announced on Monday, and with it, the news that terminating a pregnancy will be taken out of the Crimes Act. 

If it passes it will be a historic step toward granting women full bodily autonomy, but there's a way it could go even further to right the wrongs of the past.

Our male MPs should abstain from debating and voting on the Bill throughout the entire process. And if it does go to a referendum, as New Zealand First has hinted, men shouldn't be allowed to vote.

'No uterus, no opinion' is a stance so uncontroversial, Rachel from Friends was saying it in 2002. Why not put that sentiment into political practice, take it to its logical conclusion and make abortion a women-only decision?

Example: If a woman gets pregnant and doesn't want a child, and the man who impregnated her does, most people would acknowledge the two opinions don't hold equal weight. He can make his feelings known and she can take those into consideration, but the ultimate decision is hers and hers alone. 

We all understand that men's views have no relevance to a woman's right to bodily autonomy in a personal context. Why then do we feel they deserve some sway at the national level?

Ever since that bitch Eve got her man thrown out of the Garden of Eden, men haven't really trusted women. The female kind is either too stupid to make their own decisions or too cunning for those decisions to be accepted at face value.  

Men have acted as the self-appointed guardians of women's bodies since the dawn of time, exerting their political and physical power through the imposition of both official laws and extrajudicial practices - genital mutilation for pubescent girls, stoning for women accused of adultery. 

Attitudes toward the morality of abortion have waxed and waned across different cultures over time, but the one constant has been absolute male control over a decision that only affects women.

The US has been particularly restrictive: until 1992, women in Pennsylvania were refused abortions until they notified their husbands first. 

Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, Republicans have been steamrolling ahead with their ultimate goal of reversing Roe vs. Wade - stacking courts, passing restrictive bans and lying through their teeth to people who value emotion over facts. 

Alabama's blanket ban on abortion was passed in May by a group of 25 Republicans - all white, all male. Grey-haired, greasy-smiled men, their own seed curdling inside their withered testicles, relishing their ability to punish women.

If New Zealand's abortion law changes to do come down to a referendum (which are a whole lot less democratic than we might think, experts warn), men will be choosing whether women deserve complete freedom based on their own interpretation of whatever simplified question is written on the ballot.

The problem is men don't tend to have much of a grip on the facts, neatly illustrated by National's Chris Penk who expressed his dismay at the "extreme" ("/cruel?" the coward hinted parenthetically) changes to abortion legislation.

His chief concern is "liberalising abortion right up to birth", betraying a childlike ignorance of the many life-threatening fetal abnormalities that can go undetected until late pregnancy. Penk seems to think that under the new laws, women will get themselves knocked up, wait around for nine months and then "cruelly" decide to abort at the last possible minute for no reason.

It's the same nightmarish vision of infanticide conceived by famous thought leader Trump who, in a particularly addled moment, claimed Democrats support "executing babies after birth"

Of course, if men like Penk and Trump saw women as fully capable human beings, they wouldn't make comments like this because they'd realise its absurdity immediately. But in their minds women are unpredictable, irrational and heartless. Who knows what some crazy broad might do?

Men are generally rather stupid when it comes to the choices women make. Why do you take so long to do your makeup? Why don't you speak up more in work meetings? Why are you scared to walk by yourself at night? 

Stupidity, or an avowed refusal to consider women multi-faceted entities? We may never know, but it doesn't bode well for the male population's ability to make an informed decision on major legislation. 

New Zealand has a rare opportunity to send a radical progressive message to the world. 

We're leading the west in resisting the pull of populist nationalism that has infected the US, the UK and Australia. Our government set a global example when they banned semi-automatic weapons days after the Christchurch massacre. 

It's time for us to lead the way again by recognising the iron grip men have had on women's anatomy, and choosing to let that go.

Sophie Bateman is a digital producer at Newshub.