How Do Men Cope After Abortion?
Post-abortion syndrome among women is widely recognised in the pro-life community, but less well-known are the effects of abortion on fathers. According to information found on the Men and Abortion website, fathers experience a range of negative emotions after aborting a child, not unlike those suffered by aborting mothers.
Their symptoms may include: substance abuse, anxiety, depression, conflict of conscience, longing for the lost child, grief, hopelessness and guilt. Men often have no-one to confide in, and do not receive adequate counselling before or after the procedure. Some men don’t agree with the decision to abort, which introduces another dimension into the grief. And, as we know from the experience of mothers, many relationships do not last after an abortion.
The Men and Abortion Network
An organisation known as the Men and Abortion Network – MAN – was founded in the US in 2005, to help men come to terms with their abortion involvement. (You can visit their website here.) The MAN website is full of useful resources to help men deal with their fatherhood that was damaged by abortion. Many of the resources are in free, downloadable format, including this great church bulletin insert, which offers hope to those in the congregation who have been involved in an abortion. You can find the free resources as well as books for sale, here.
Crisis pregnancy centres are finding that post-abortive men are just as much in need of counselling as post-abortive mothers, and the MAN resources specialise in teaching men to counsel other men. There is an emphasis on using Scripture to open the way to forgiveness and healing.
Recognising the Differences:
The role of fathers in abortion is distinctly different from that of the mothers. This extract, taken from the MAN website, delves into various scenarios that allow abortion to be chosen by mothers as a solution to their crisis pregnancy:
Men and Abortion: Decision-Making
Some men actively encourage their partners to abort. Some abandon their partners or threaten to do so and therefore indirectly encourage abortion. Although the stereotype of the callous male abandoning his partner continues to be promoted, there are frequently other circumstances leading to abortion decisions. For example, there are men who are not aware of a partner’s abortion until after it occurs. Still other men offer support of some kind which may or may not include a commitment to a long-term relationship. Some men oppose abortion and make their views clear but, ultimately, they are at the mercy of their partners’ decisions. Finally, many men concede to the often promoted view that abortion decisions belong solely to women and so defer those decisions to their female partners.
Regardless of one’s position on the issue of abortion, it seems fair to say that abortion decisions are painful and difficult decisions which bring lasting consequences. In spite of the gravity of such decisions, choices need to be made within a short time period and often with limited information.
While abortion providers have frequently been criticized for failing to adequately inform their clients, that is not the only failure in communication. Too often, the men and women themselves do not adequately communicate their fears and desires and, as a result, an abortion decision is made which neither partner is satisfied with. Men tend to withhold their thoughts and desires concerning pregnancy outcome and, instead, yield the decision entirely to their partners as they perceive such behavior as “supporting” them. While the research on men and abortion is limited, a consistent observation is that men will repress their own emotions because they believe that is the most appropriate way to care for their partners. Ironically, many women report that had they received an assurance of support from their partners, they would have chosen to carry their pregnancies to term. Sadly then, the decision to abort is often not what either party wants but is the result of a failure of communication between men and women trying to cope with the crisis of unplanned pregnancy.
(From the downloadable pdf, “Men and Abortion: Finding Healing, Restoring Hope” by Dr. Catherine C. Coyle)
If you are suffering after involvement with an abortion, please call PREGNANCY COUNSELLING AUSTRALIA on 1300 737 732 (24-hour hotline). The friendly, non-judgemental staff waiting for your call.