Men and Abortion: Locked out of the Decision

Abortion has effectively turned a whole segment of the male population into a moral ambivalence, yet some men are victims of abortion abuse and suffer grief, anger, and a general sense of impotence about their lives.
  • Men have no legal say when it comes to abortion.
  • Men are denied the right to be involved in decisions affecting their unborn children.
  • Abortion should be a couple's issue but only a woman's rights are protected by law.
  • Men are denied a say in abortion but are required by law to support their children.
  • Beyond its emotional effects on men, abortion affects relationships as well, 70% of relationships break up within one month following an abortion.
Although men have, at least in theory, the right to beget children, no man (married or otherwise) has any legal way to secure that right. This, it is claimed, has had the effect of turning a whole segment of the male population into a moral ambivalence.

Men are denied a 'voice' regarding a woman's right to 'choose,' even though the 'choice' is whether or not their child will be aborted.

This disenfranchisement, stripping men of what is seen by many as a fundamental right to protect their children, has led to many men feeling betrayed and hurt. Some men suffer grief, anger, and a general sense of impotence about their lives.

Many people, including some who work in the field of post-abortion healing, are reluctant to admit that men can be considered victims of abortion, but Arthur Shostak, a Professor of Sociology at Drexel University, says that one of the largest shocks that sexually active young men encounter is the shock that comes from hearing their sex partner say: "The test is back and we're pregnant and I'm going to have an abortion."
Shostak's interest in the subject started with his own personal involvement with an abortion.

Shostak's interest in the subject started with his own personal involvement with an abortion. He defines himself as being "unswervingly pro-choice," and his 1984 sociological study with Gary McLouth ‘Men and Abortion: Lessons, Losses and Love’ is regarded as the first serious research on how men are effected by abortion.

Relationship fallout
Dr Vincent Rue, a leading psychologist who deals with post-abortion issues among men, was the person who first proposed post-abortion syndrome, as a variant of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in 1981.

In researching his book Forgotten Fathers: Men and Abortion (Life Cycle Books, 1986), Dr. Vincent M. Rue found that, when the man objected to the abortion, up to 75 percent of the relationships between married and unmarried couples fell apart within one month.

Jim Benefield, a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor (MFCC) in San Diego, who holds workshops for "Men Saddened by Past Abortion Pain," says that a study of 400 couples by researcher Emily Milling, puts the one-month break-up figure at 70 percent.

Powerless
One reason men avoid dealing with abortions is their reluctance to get involved a situation where they are virtually powerless.

While many women say "It's my body so it's my decision," the pregnancy is the direct result of receiving genetic material from a man which comprises half the DNA code of the developing child. Many men, who are excluded from the abortion decision, claim that they should have a right to be heard.

When a woman and a man disagree about abortion, there is a battle of inequal 'rights' with the only the woman's 'right' protected by law. Critics contend that it should be a couple's issue.

Although mren are required by law to support their children, they are denied any say when it comes to abortion.

Although men are equal participants in procreation and required by law to support their children, they are denied any say when it comes to abortion.

Guilt and remorse
When a woman tells a man she is pregnant and asks "What do you think we should do?" the most common instinctive reaction is for the man to throw the decision onto the woman with "whatever you want to do, I'll support you in the decision."

Manhood is a matter of rights and responsibilities. As time goes on, many men regret what they see as a moral 'cop-out.'

When men feel that they were not a full partner in the abortion decision, they have a sense of seething discontent. Shostak says that there is also "a sense that the next time this happens or something like it happens, such as some family planning decision, they are not going to be given a role."

These men may become reluctant to trust, and reluctant to commit, and Shostak speculates that some of the male's notorious reluctance to commit may have as a component men who have failed to work through a prior abortion experience.

Dr Jean Garton, who is strongly opposed to abortion, tells of a letter written by a male prisoner. He wrote:
"It seemed to me a strange kind of truth that required deception to promulgate it."
“I am at Trenton State Prison as an inmate having been found guilty of murder. But I have more guilt feelings about an abortion I paid for many years ago than for the crime I am now in prison for. I know God has forgiven me for that killing, but I have never been able to pray away the guilt feelings I have about my part in the death of an unborn child.”

In the early 1970s Garton was "pro-choice." As she wrote later, she was "seduced" by the word "choice." Garton says that she was instructed always to use euphemisms and misleading rhetoric, which led her finally to comment, "It seemed to me a strange kind of truth that required deception to promulgate it."

A crisis of conscience apparently ensued and she says, "I realized I either had to change my mind or continue to change reality by disguising the truth."

Men denied rights
Dr Rue says that many men are silent victims of abortion. "At a time when men are changing roles and becoming increasingly involved in raising their children, they are systematically denied the right to be involved in life-or-death decisions affecting their unborn children."

When men promote abortion they are being selfish, when women choose abortion they are affirming their rights.
Shostak observed in The Family Coordinator that 3 of 4 male respondents studied said they had a difficult time with the abortion experience, and that a sizable minority reported persistent day and night dreams about the child that never was, as well as considerable guilt, remorse and sadness.

Rue wrote in The Forgotten Fathers: Men and Abortion:
"When men promote abortion for their partners it is typified as coercion, lack of caring, insensitivity and selfishness.

When women choose abortion it is the exclamation of women’s rights, an affirmation of the right to health and freedom from male, oppression, and a confirmation of sovereign territoriality over the female body and reproductive functions."

Read also Taboo Grief: Men and Abortion