Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there's been talk across the nation and globe about how this removal of rights will impact people who can get pregnant ... especially young women and teen girls. However, these new laws will impact more than just young girls, making it more important than ever to talk to young men and teen boys on sexual health — and what abortion may mean to them.
"Contraception, safe sex, consensual sex and all things sex must absolutely be talked about with our teen girls — and boys — more now than ever," says author, teacher and authority on the subject of sexual abuse prevention, Kimberly King.
How to talk to young boys about abortion rights
As a survivor of sexual assault turned advocate and educator, King started her work with sexual abuse prevention as a women's health peer counselor and human sexuality teaching assistant. She shares that all couples should be discussing sexual activity beforehand.
"Young men and women need a plan A, B and C," says King. "Couples need to become very familiar with the laws of their respective states. Both young men and women need to have some pretty serious backup plans for young love."
Kings shares that abstinence-only education is not realistic and could open young people up to additional risk due to a lack of knowledge. Instead, she encourages parents to shift to educating and empowering their teens.
"Perhaps it's a really good time to take this situation as an opportunity," King tells Yahoo Life. "It's way past time to teach boys about the female body, sexuality, sex, pregnancy, love, respect, chemistry and communication. I don't know any teens who actually intend to get pregnant or have an abortion — or who understand what an abortion reallyis either. Many young women and men are unfamiliar with the entire process, especially for late-term abortion."
In the past, much of the responsibility and trauma of an unwanted or non-viable pregnancy has fallen completely on the young woman. In King's opinion, it's never been more important to educate young people, regardless of their gender.
Why abortion education is important
"We have to educate our teens on contraception ASAP," she says. "Age-appropriate sexual education has never been more important. Parents can play an essential role here based on trust, respect, responsibility, health and safety."
Emma Gordon, a Los Angeles-based mother of three kids ranging in age from 7 to 17, shares that because sex is a natural part of life, it's always been important to her and her husband to prepare their teenage son for this next step in his life by creating an open and safe environment for him to talk about the changes in his body, physically and emotionally.
"It is natural for growing teenagers to exhibit hormone-addled tendencies," Gordon says. "This is because of all the changes they begin to experience in their body and their newfound sexual attraction toward each other." She explains that, more than ever before, she feels compelled to prepare her sons for the reality of life as young, growing, sexually-active adults.
"The current reality in America today is one where abortion may not be an obtainable option," she says. "In light of Roe v. Wade being overturned, a better time for parents of teenagers to take the education of their kids on the importance of contraceptives more seriously has never existed. I and my partner have made it a point to make sure that my teenage son understands how contraceptives work."
Perhaps this time in our country will be a teaching opportunity to raise strong, thoughtful, respectful, responsible, informed young men who stand up for the rights of women.Kimberly King
While education and contraceptives are some of the most powerful tools parents can share with their sons, it's still important to teach them about abortion, as even with all of the education and contraceptives in the world, sometimes things do not go as planned.
Ensure your son understands what occurs during an abortion
Linda Larson Schlitz has been a counselor for 30 years and has been seeking to educate others on teen sexuality and the implications of the abortion option for over 40 years. Schiltz says she was inspired to follow this line of work as a result of having experienced an abortion without having adequate knowledge to make an informed choice for herself.
"I have counseled hundreds of men and women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy or who have gone through the abortion option," says Schlitz. "Many of the boys and men I have worked with have great difficulty learning they have no rights [when it comes to their partner having an abortion] and have coped with substance abuse or even suicide."
Schlitz says young people should be prepared for the realities of abortion before they're in a situation where it directly pertains to them. "[Teenage boys] can prevent the whole tough decision-making process if they decide if they are ready to be responsible to raise a child, or have the girl have an abortion, before they have sex, understanding they have no right to decide either way once she is pregnant."
While Schlitz recognizes she takes a non-traditional approach to sharing the realities of what young men might find themselves facing, it's all in an effort to help others to make an informed choice of their own when they are able.
Mo Mulla is a parent and a parenting expert, who founded Parental Questions, a family-run blog where they discuss topics just like this every day. He agrees it's time for parents to discuss abortion with their sons.
Let your son form his own views about abortion
"Talk to your son about his views on abortion," says Mulla. "This is an important issue and you want to know where he stands on it. Explain why you think it's important for him to understand the issue: Roe v. Wade being overturned could have a major impact on his life, and you want him to be informed about it. Give him some information about abortion, as this will help him to understand the issue better."
Mulla reminds fellow parents to answer their sons' questions honestly to give them a deeper understanding of all that abortion encompasses. Give your son a chance to share his opinions and be respectful of his growing views.
King echos that openness is essential, as is ensuring that teens know they can ask for help, no matter what. "Create a culture of communication in your family so if your teen and their partner do get pregnant, they have an open door to a safe judgment-free zone," she says. "You agree ahead of time that if they do have this occur, you will react responsibly and get them the medical care they need."
As abortion is healthcare, the lives of teens and young people could potentially be at risk if there isn't a safe option available to them. "You don't want your teens googling how to DIY abortion by drinking certain things or trying medical procedures on their own," she says. "A safe communication zone will help prevent back-alley abortions and save lives."
King also reminds parents that unsafe sex just became incredibly risky — especially in states where access to abortion is so limited that a woman may experience an unviable pregnancy and still be denied an abortion until a judge approves it — which could have deadly consequences.
"Teach your boys that it is the perfect time to learn more about women, women's rights and the laws of the land," says King. "Perhaps this time in our country will be a teaching opportunity to raise strong, thoughtful, respectful, responsible, informed young men who stand up for the rights of women."