“My girlfriend is pregnant, and she wants to have an abortion.”
Jason called us early one Friday morning. He was 19 years old. The tone in his voice told us he was upset, distressed, and confused.
“I tried to talk her out of it. I want my baby. But she scheduled the appointment. What can I do? What are my rights?”
This is not the first time we have had a young man call our office in this situation. Sadly, calls from young men and fathers are some of the most heartbreaking we get.
In our country today, a father does not hold any legal rights over his unborn child, nor does he have any legal say in the mother’s decision to have an abortion.
It’s undisputed scientific fact that both a man and a woman are equally involved in the creation of a human child, and they are equally biological parents of that child. However, in 1976, the Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood of Missouri v. Danforth eliminated a man’s legal right to be involved in the decision to abort that child. Father’s don’t even have to be notified, should the mother decide to receive an abortion.
So without any legal help, what is left for a father like Jason to do?
Fathers are only able to offer their love, support, and encouragement to the mother, hoping she’ll change her mind. But for men like Jason, if the woman decides to have an abortion, there isn’t much else they can do.
This is a tragic reality that many people, even pro-lifers, often forget.
Abortion hurts men too.
Estimates show that around 55 million men in this country have been impacted by abortion at some point in their lives. These men bear the scars of abortion, and they often suffer in silence.
That being said, one thing is important to note: not every story is like Jason’s.
The National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, Inc., founded in 1990, works with a variety of researchers and psychotherapeutic professionals in the U.S. and abroad and to develop post-abortion support services. From their work and research, they have found that the role of men in an abortion situation can be varied, but these are the typical scenarios:
- I knew she was pregnant and I tried to stop her, but I couldn’t.
- I knew she was pregnant, and I didn’t want her to have the abortion, but it’s her body so I went along with it.
- I completely supported her decision to have the abortion.
- I forced her to have the abortion, even though she really didn’t want to have it.
- I had no idea she was pregnant, and I didn’t find out until after she had the abortion.
The different roles men play in the abortion experience often affects if, when, and how they are impacted by the abortion. Sometimes the suffering is immediate – and other times, it manifests itself years later. One thing, though, is for sure: abortion hurts men too.
How do we know this?
Although there are not many published studies on the impact that abortion has on men, the few that have been conducted have interesting results.
According to a report published by Dr. Catherine T. Coyle, from the University of Wisconsin Madison, a review of 28 published studies on the side-effects of abortion on men revealed:
- Men are more inclined to repress their emotions during the abortion decision. Some men have stated that they feel they should support their partners and this what they “should” do. Because abortion is portrayed as a “women’s issue,” the decision is often left up to the woman.
Known pro-choice sociologist and emeritus professor at Drexel University, Arthur Shostak, affirmed this in an interview with U.S. News, focusing on the effect of abortion on men. He said,
“One of the most difficult sentences that I know of in the English language is this: ‘Honey, I have just learned that I am pregnant, and we are going to have an abortion.’ It brings astonishing information – and also resolution – in just a sentence. And it’s not, ‘Honey, I’m pregnant – what are we going to do?’ So, it’s a double blow for men, and I think that’s got to change. I’m arguing we can redefine an unwanted pregnancy more usefully as a couple’s challenge – not a woman’s problem.”
- Relationships suffer following abortion. Results from studies on relationship failure following abortion range anywhere from 25-75%.
- Many men have expressed a need for counseling, with most men agreeing the abortion was not an easy experience at all.
- Some men deal with grief, anxiety, guilt helplessness, and anger, leading to substance abuse, risky behaviors, and depression following an abortion experience.
One study published in 2000, in which researchers recruited over 300 women and men involved in first trimester abortions, found that being involved in a first-trimester abortion can be highly distressing for both women and men. Among the results were the following:
“Before the abortion, 56.9% of women and 39.6% of men were much more distressed than their respective controls. Three weeks after the abortion, 41.7% of women and 30.9% of men were still highly distressed.”
Despite the sparseness of research, there is still plenty of evidence to suggest that men suffer in the aftermath of abortion, just like women.
The Personal Stories
It takes immense courage and emotional strength for a man to share his personal experience with abortion, especially when modern society and the media push the notion that a man has no place in the abortion decision, that it’s a woman’s issue, and he should be silent.
But many such men have come forward, and their stories should be heard.
These are stories from men who’ve played different roles in the abortion experience and who bear painful wounds because of it, whether they are mental, emotional, or spiritual.
A Hollywood movie producer, Jason Jones, is well-known for his pro-life films such as Bella and Crescendo. What is the motivation behind his work? Jason shares his powerful story that started when he was just a teenager who found out his girlfriend was pregnant and later had an abortion. You can watch his testimony here.
You can also watch four fathers unveil the impact abortion had on them in this video.
The Healing Ministries
If abortion didn’t hurt men or impact them in some way, then they would not need post-abortive counseling, therapy, or healing.
But the fact of the matter is, counseling and healing for men after abortion does exist…
Because men are hurting and there is a need.
If you, a family member, or a man you know is suffering in the aftermath of abortion, whether it was recent or long ago, please know you are not alone. These fantastic organizations and ministries exist to help guide men (and women) through their journey of grief to peace and healing.
877 HOPE 4 ME (877-467-3463)
Confidential email service – click here.
For General Inquiries:
Please contact Sheppard Tucker: [email protected]
For Retreat Inquiries:
Please contact Jacque Murphy: [email protected]
Several pregnancy resource centers (including many in Illinois) offer post-abortive healing/counseling for men and women as well. If you need help finding a local resource for post abortion counseling, or if you would just like someone to talk to, please call us or email us: