Men and Abortion
It is astonishing that although abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973, very little has been written for, or about, the many millions of men who have been the partner or friend of the person who has had an abortion. Much has been written about the legal, medical, and religious aspects of abortion itself and numerous studies have been done outlining the effects on women. But almost nothing about the men! (Here’s a recent article on why abortion matters to men.)
The creators of the former site MenandAbortion.com, Art Shostak, PhD a sociologist and Claire Keyes, an abortion provider, have written the few articles that have been published about men and abortion. The Abortion Conversation Projects has been asked to save this domain; the primary content of that site is now here:
Factual Frequently Asked Questions
1. “How can I find a quality provider?”
Not all abortion providers are alike, just as in any field. The first thing you might want to do is to get a referral from someone you trust, such as your doctor or family planning clinic. Next, be certain that the provider is a member of one of the national organizations, such as the Abortion Care Network or the National Abortion Federation. A high internet listing is not a guarantee of quality service. You can do a web check on the facility. Call the clinic. Are their fees suspiciously lower than the others? How does the staff respond to your questions? Are they knowledgeable, friendly, willing to take their time with you? Do they offer counseling afterwards if you or your partner want to come in to talk? Are partners included in the process?
2. “Can I be with my partner during the procedure?”
Being with your partner during counseling, the procedure, or recovery is an option that some clinics offer. If this is important to you, be sure to call and ask before making your appointment. Keep in mind, though, that your partner has the final word on whether you can be present. Clinics have their own policies based on their own experience, but there are ways to be involved and supportive.
Emotional Frequently Asked Questions
1. “What about feelings afterwards?”
There are many possible emotional responses after an abortion. Remember, all feelings are normal. Often the first reaction is relief that the crisis of this situation is over. But it is not unusual to also have feelings of sadness, guilt, anger, or feeling “bad.” Assuming this was a mutual decision together, you can both try to remember the reasons you chose not to continue the pregnancy. Remind yourselves that you are good people who made the best decision you could for your lives. As time goes on, most people experience more relief and less sadness. This is a perfect time to be good listeners. If either of you is not coping well after an abortion, get someone to talk to. Learn about practices for healthy coping.
2. “What are the warning signs of poor emotional coping?”
If either of you is having sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, or an inability to concentrate, it could be a sign of trouble coping. If either of you feel sadness or guilt that is not going away, or if you are continuing to worry if you did the right thing, call your provider to see if they offer or can refer for post abortion counseling. Check out these resources.
Spiritual Frequently Asked Questions
1. “We both made the decision together to have the abortion, and we did not treat it lightly. It was not something that we just blew off. Are there some things we can do to acknowledge that this would have been a child? We don’t want to pretend that it never happened.”
Many people, both individuals and couples, do create some personal way to acknowledge a pregnancy loss. Whether you think of it as a child or not, you probably still want to treat the pregnancy with respect. You can do something as simple as lighting a candle to something more involved like creating a whole ceremony. Our own diverse culture in the U.S. has a variety of loss rituals and borrowing from one of them may be just what you are looking for. On the other hand, you may want to create your own way of saying good-bye. The section called Helpful Healing Ideas in this workbook may be of help or this section which includes some rituals from other cultures as well as some personal rituals that other people in this situation have told us about.
2. “I do not believe in abortion, but I am not trying to prevent it from happening? Does God look at me as a sinner too?”
First of all, you may be surprised to know that not all—or even most-- religions consider abortion a sin. If you think your religion does consider it a sin, then you can make peace between you and your God through prayer or through consultation with clergy. Sometimes an issue like this one feels like so important that you cannot work through it without professional help. Both pastoral counseling and relationship counseling can be helpful for couples wanting to work this out together. Remember that in most religions, compassion and forgiveness are available through prayer, repentance, penance, or good works. For example, in the Christian faith, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was for the forgiveness of ALL sin and the salvation of all sinners. For Muslims, fasting is a way to express penance. Typically, self forgiveness is hardest for many people. If you find yourselves blaming yourself or each other, do consider getting professional help. Visit: faithaloud.org • cath4choice.org • rcrc.org
Advice for Dads (from the “Mom, Dad, I’m Pregnant” Project an early ACP initiative)
Disclaimer: Parenting is parenting and there is much more crossover in “mom” roles and “dad” roles these days. Here is some parenting advice.
1. “Are there ways of being that are special to fathers?”
It is likely that you represent something different to your child than their mother. This may mean you have an opportunity to be more present, or, it may mean you have to overcome some obstacles to be truly helpful in this crisis. A rush to action may not be the most helpful in developing your daughter or son’s ability to make good decisions.
2. “I can’t tell my father.” “They would be… so mad.” “…or disappointed.” “…or they would kill me.”
These are some of the things we hear young people say; in other words, how they see you makes it seem impossible to communicate what is happening to them. It’s terrible to think that you will be the last to know or will never know about a big crisis like this in your daughter or son’s life just because of this fear about your reaction. Now is the time to affirm your relationship: “You’re my child and you always will be.” “I will love you no matter what.” “I want to be there for you.” You have an opportunity to play an important role now that could be critical in your relationship for the rest of your lives.
Talk with us about your experience.