… Once I saw a bumper sticker, “Having an abortion doesn’t make you un-pregnant. It makes you the mother of a dead baby.” The same could be said for a father whose child has been aborted.
Little attention is given to men when the topic of abortion is raised. Many believe since men don’t have a uterus they don’t have the right to an opinion on the matter. But a pregnancy doesn’t involve just the pregnant woman. Many people are involved – a child yet born, future and/or existing siblings, grandparents, and yes, a father.
Not only does abortion hurt women, it ruins the lives of men as well. It robs them of the fatherhood and effects the way they see themselves as a man.
Let me introduce my friend R. We met about 3 years ago at a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. He allowed me to share his story.
R. admitted how profoundly he’d been changed after an abortion his girlfriend, now ex-wife, underwent when they were teenagers. They both felt crushing parental pressure to have an abortion. As scared teenagers they went to their parents for help. Instead they got sermons and statistics thrown at them.
“Young parents have a lower success rate of finishing college. The odds were insurmountable. It would be cruel to bring an unwanted baby into the world that would just burden everyone. Think of the cost. Think of the delayed or abandoned plans and dream. Abortion is the best thing”, they rationalized.
R. shared with us how he and his girlfriend never wanted to end the pregnancy but neither had the courage to stand up against their parents, who they trusted to know better.
He vividly recalled his ex-wife, then a terrified 18 year old girl, staring at him with desperate pleading eyes. She wanted him to stand up and firmly say “This is my child too. You will not have an abortion. We can cope.”
Instead he looked away.
The decision was made by their parents and the following week they drove her to the clinic. It was done.
They eventually got married and had several more children together but from the moment he looked away from his pregnant girlfriend’s gaze and surrender his responsibility as a father he lost a good deal of his manhood and a great deal of her respect.
He also lost the ability to make decisions. He didn’t trust himself to make the right choices and second guessed himself at every turn. So he stopped making them altogether.
Not only did R. lose his first child to abortion, he also lost his manhood, his fatherhood, and his self respect.
He and his ex-wife no longer speak and the children are grown and estranged to him. He’s never met his two grandchildren.
One single abortion, with promises of a better future, was supposed to solve all their youthful problems. Ultimately it destroyed two generations of his family and caused endless heartache.
Abortion is a horrible evil. We often say we want better for our daughters, but we should also demand better for our sons too.
Men need to know the lifelong effect abortion can have on their psyches. When men are tested by life and found wanting it ruins their self worth and can potentially damage all their future relationships.
R.’s situation is more than just an anecdotal accounting of abortion. It’s backed by psychological research into the subject.
Masculine identity may be damaged when men fail to keep those they love from harm. Role confusion or a sense of emasculation may occur if men are not allowed to act on their healthy instinct to protect or when they judge themselves to have failed as guardians. In an attempt to fulfill their perceived role as one of stoic support to their partners, men tend to contain their own emotions and put on a brave face.
Ironically, men’s efforts to be strong for their partners by repressing their own emotions may lead to complicated or unresolved grief or to clinical depression. – Men and Abortion: Psychological Effects by Catherine T. Coyle, RN, PhD
Anything that promises a quick fix to life’s challenges always has a higher price to pay in the end. Make sure your sons know that and know that they can come to you for love and support should they ever find themselves in R’s position.
Resources for men to find healing:
If you know of other resources, perhaps your local parish or diocese offers something, please leave a comment and I will post the information here.