"My body, my choice." "Abortion is a women’s issue, if you don’t have a uterus, you don’t have a voice." Pro-choice advocates have done their level best to silence the voices of men in the abortion debate, stating that the only person who matters in this discussion is the one who is pregnant. Only women are allowed to voice their opinions, after all, it only affects her. It’s her body so, ultimately, she gets to make the decision.
Where does this leave men? It leaves them minimized, overlooked and excluded from the discussion. As a society, the conversation about abortion primarily surrounds women and on the surface, this makes sense. We are the ones who will carry the pregnancy, we are the ones who will endure the abortion, and we are the ones who will deal with the aftermath. All of that is true, but it is disingenuous to say the abortion decision doesn’t have an effect on men. The moment the child is conceived, the woman becomes a mother, and the man becomes a father.
A 2021 Care Net study of Men and Abortion conducted by Lifeway found that 63% of men whose partner had an abortion after he made her pregnant believed having the abortion was her choice, and 40% say society thinks men should neither encourage or discourage their partner in any way. The pro-choice arguments have been taken to heart, and men have remained largely silent on the issue, even though the father of the baby has the most influence on her decision.
Support After Abortion published a white paper in April 2023 titled Study Shows Long-Term Negative Impact of Abortion on Men. Most men (71%) reported some negative impact from their abortion experiences including depression, anxiety, and anger. According to the National Survey of Family Growth one in five men will experience an abortion before the age of 45. Couple the one in five statistic with 71% saying they experienced an adverse change in themselves, and we are surrounded by the walking wounded. Their emotions have been invalidated and they are dealing with “disenfranchised grief”, which is grief that is not openly acknowledged, socially accepted, or publicly mourned.
Most men don’t know where to go for help, and quite honestly, there hasn’t been much available to them. But organizations like Save One, Support After Abortion and Care Net are working to change that. In March, Care Net released its’ men’s abortion recovery study, Reclaiming Fatherhood. This biblically based study is anchored in the work of Fatherhood Aborted and was heavily influenced by the four post-abortive men who spoke into every page. Their lived experiences – the devastation the abortions brought into their lives, the anger and shame that were their constant companions, were all overcome by the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
When asked what helped them the most, they all had the same answer: when another man shared his abortion experience. They saw were not alone in their struggle and that there was HOPE! Jim W. said “Guys like us (with a past abortion) have learned, over many years of isolation and pain, to be alone. We are outwardly good at being alone but secretly despise the fact that we have no real friends. Anger and pride keep us isolated when what we really need are other men who will walk with us. We are stronger together.”
It is that willingness to walk alongside another man, to help him navigate the very messy emotions that underlie the anger and pain, that will bring about healing. We need men who will say yes to mentoring another guy. One of the interesting things that came out of Care Net’s study is that almost 50% of the men were attending a Christian church at least once a month at the time of their partner’s first abortion. That says something about the desire for God in their lives. We need to tap into that and let our churches know that there are resources for men! Women are not the only ones silently suffering in our pews.
Support After Abortion’s research showed that almost half of the men in their study wanted a secular approach to healing. In providing care, it would behoove us to have both a secular and a biblically based study available. Please hear me say, as a post-abortive woman who knows the saving grace of Jesus Christ, I know that true healing will only come through Him. That being said, Support After Abortion has a secular men’s version of Keys to Hope and Healing that might act as an easy on-ramp to healing for a guy. I would recommend this as a first step in a man’s healing journey. It could be a way to build trust and open the door to more substantive spiritual discussions.
The bottom line is we have to engage the men, both in our pregnancy centers and our churches. I truly believe abortion will end in this country when the men are healed. Then they will be able to take back their mantle of leadership and raise their voices in support of their unborn children and the women carrying them.
Jill Marquis is the Director of Abortion Recovery and Care for Care Net. She has worked in abortion recovery and pregnancy center ministry for more than a decade. She can be reached at email@example.com"