Mark Furnari: Men need to step up on abortion rights

This commentary is by Mark Furnari of South Burlington, a semiretired health care administrator, mediator, counselor and leadership development coach. 

Simply, men bear equal responsibility for unwanted pregnancies. 

Since 1973, those pregnancies have been covered by abortion services throughout the nation. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ushers in a new era for the fight for full reproductive services throughout the US. 

My own experience with abortion and reproductive rights dates back to 1970 when I began working at Morrisania City Hospital in the South Bronx shortly after abortion became legal in New York City. As a 23-year-old male with little experience in reproductive health, I accepted the opportunity to staff a new abortion clinic as a patient representative. 

Interviews with patients from throughout the U.S. often revealed a need for representatives to find housing for these patients. Many times, the hospital staff provided housing, especially for young women traveling alone over challenging distances. 

My learning accelerated and I became an abortion rights advocate.

With Roe overturned, I feel strongly that men need to speak up and provide those who have lost access to legal abortion with significant support in terms of money for transportation, housing, medical care and mental health support

Alongside women who choose abortion, men have their own stories, and need to share these stories with friends and in the media. Our stories highlight the other part of the pregnancy equation — without, men pregnancy cannot happen. 

It is common to feel comfortable in Vermont about abortion access because our leaders are not governed by religious ideology and voters support reproductive services. Hopefully, we will always maintain a women’s right to choose. 

However, since this access will be denied in many places in the U.S., I propose that we set up a fund in Vermont, Vermont Men for Abortion. VMA would initially collect a minimum of $100 per quarter from at least 100 Vermont men who know the value of abortion services. These funds would go to proven, carefully vetted organizations focused on providing access to abortion services in states where access is now illegal. 

My assumption is that VMA will need to be carefully connected to other organizations. 

Conversations with other men to date have revealed a growing interest in this endeavor. I believe it is a time for men to take a very strong role to support abortion access with financing, organizing, whatever needs to be done. 

This is a time for all men to stand up and be counted. Are you with us? 

Please contact Mark Furnari here.

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