The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer on a case that could lead to a reversal of its decision 16 years ago legalizing abortion. As abortion proponents and opponents spilled into the streets with protests and marches this spring, it was obvious not all the voices were women's. To better understand the men's view, Times staff writer Dana Parsons interviewed six who have been active on one side or the other of the movement.
Pat Quinn: Quinn, 30, had not given the abortion issue extensive thought until he heard a visiting pastor speak out against it about 3 years ago. It came at a time when Quinn was ready to take a stand on the issue. "Really, coming to grips with whether a fetus was a life or not--that was always my question," Quinn said.
Coming across a 20-year-old Life magazine photo essay helped him decide. It showed pictures of a fetus from the early stages of conception to birth. Eventually, Quinn decided that life began at conception.
"It's a baby. You can't kill the baby. That's just the bottom line to me," Quinn said. "That's what it's really about; it's about life. I don't understand pro-choice. They're talking about the life of the mother. I'm talking about the life of the child. That's what we have--we have two lives here."
Quinn, who teaches sixth grade at Stone Mountain Academy, a Christian school in Laguna Hills, made his first public commitment to the anti-abortion cause when he heard the pastor speak 3 years ago. "He asked for people to commit to saving lives," Quinn said. "So I made the commitment."
He picketed a clinic where abortions were performed. That gave him a firsthand look at the passions involved.
"Here you are picketing, and people come up and are shocked you're doing it," Quinn said. "One of the women came up to me and said, 'Who are you? You're a guy. Why should you be picketing an abortion clinic? This is a woman's thing.' I said, 'No, it isn't. This is an issue about life.' "
Quinn, a San Clemente bachelor, said: "The pro-choice side sees it as a woman's issue--'It's my body; it's my right to decide.' It is their body, and the decision they make is are they going to have sex or not. That's the decision. One of the natural results of having sex is reproduction. You can try to prevent it or not, but it's going to occur. So you already made your decision when you decided to have sex, knowing what the consequences will be. Now you have to face up to the responsibility of that decision."
Mark Hoover: It was a talk with his brother that convinced Hoover, 34, to cross the line and get involved in the fight to stop abortions. He had long opposed abortion from a religious perspective--believing that aborting a fetus was murder--but he had stayed on the sidelines.
That changed about a year ago when his brother in Atlanta talked to him about commitment. "The point at which I turned was when I was challenged by John, who said if I believed it was murder, to really stand up and do something about it. I understood what he was saying, but still to this day, legally you cannot call those people murderers, but scripturally, they are murderers."
Married and with four children under the age of 6, Hoover, an accountant who lives in Orange, said he now spends about 80% of his spare time with the pro-life movement, either organizing or planning strategy. It is a chunk of time that potentially "has dangerous side effects on the family, if you're not careful," Hoover said, but he added that he and his wife are in accord on his commitment. So far, Hoover has taken part in two public anti-abortion demonstrations.
"It was scary the first couple times," he said. "It's not something a conservative normally is involved in. A conservative by definition is someone who upholds the law and tries to conserve what's there." The problem, Hoover said, is that he believes that society is giving away basic values, such as fetal rights.
Hoover said women miss the point when they discuss abortion as a matter of choice. "They're asking for a second chance to make a second choice. The real choice was made when they committed themselves to whatever partner to procreate that child. We would cry loudly, 'Choice, yes, but at the right time.' "
The pro-life side is not trying to impose its religious values, Hoover said. Rather, it is trying to guarantee what it views as already-granted constitutional rights to the unborn. "You've got a baby that's pre-born. It's not animal, vegetable or mineral. It's human. It's alive. It could not exist without the mother, even after it's born. . . . If you believe that, (the question) must go back to conception. Once a life has begun, it has begun."
Mike O'Brien: "I grew up as a Catholic," said computer analyst O'Brien, "and so I've always been against abortion. Probably I was against it because my parents were against it. But as a kid you don't think about things that much. People say things are wrong, and you say, 'Fine,' but you don't think about it much."