“Most of the men I talk to think about the abortion years after it is over.
They feel sad, they feel curious, they feel a lot of things; but usually they have talked to no one about it. It’s a taboo” – Sociologist Arthur Shostak
Although abortion has been legal in Australia for more than 45 years very little has been written on the impact it has on men who have been the husband, partner or friend of the women who have had an abortion. This page contains reasons why men should not be silent about abortion, and how men are affected by it.
Should men be silent about abortion?
By Graham Preston (pictured below)
Recently a friend and I were protesting against abortion outside Parliament House. I was holding a placard which read, “Abortion: The Silent Holocaust” along with an enlarged photograph of an 8 week old preborn baby. A woman in a car waiting at the traffic lights saw me and began shouting something. As the car went past she screamed, “How dare you! How dare you have an opinion!”
It would appear that she believes that men should remain silent about abortion. Well, at least those men who oppose abortion.
Of all the comments made in opposition to our protesting against abortion – and several of us, mostly men, go out regularly – the most common criticism refers to the fact that men are speaking out against abortion. “What would you know, you’re a man!” “Have you ever had a baby?” etc.
Are the critics correct? Should men be silent about abortion?
Clearly, by virtue of the fact that I still go out protesting against abortion, I do not agree with the critics. A number of reasons are involved.
1) As already indicated above, it is usually only if men are opposed to abortion that any objection is made to their being involved in the abortion debate. If men say that abortion should be allowed, then few if any “pro-choice” women will tell them to be silent just because they are men.
If it really should be the case that abortion is such an issue that men must not comment on, then it would be necessary that all men be silent, not just the critics of abortion. (In passing, it is worth noting that the vast majority of abortionists are men – yet “pro-choice” women don’t seem to have much problem with them being involved!)
2) Secondly, men are just as essential for the commencement of new life as are women. It still remains the case that without the provision of sperm, a new human life cannot begin. Perhaps some sad day in the future should cloning of human beings be achieved, male involvement in pregnancy may not be necessary, but that is not possible at present.
If men are required for new life to begin, why should they have no say as to whether or not that new life is destroyed?
Not many women have any problems accepting that men should be required to provide child support for the children they father, even if the man leaves the family home. Yet some women say that men should be precluded from even having any say about whether a child makes it to birth.
3) Approximately half, although somewhat less in some cultures, of all preborn babies that are aborted are male. It is not just the female babies that the “prochoice” women want to be able to abort, so why should men not be allowed to comment on the killing of male preborn babies, at the very least? How can it be just a women’s issue when male babies are being killed too?
4) In some respects though, all the foregoing comments are just peripheral to the issue. The heart of the matter is that it is true men should be silent about abortion . . . if and only if the act of deliberately aborting a baby is morally equivalent to having an appendix or tooth removed. No men go around picketing hospitals or dental clinics saying that women, or anyone else, should not be allowed to have their appendix or teeth removed. Even if they did, no one would take any notice of them.
Clearly, the difference is that in the instance of the appendix or teeth, what is being removed is universally acknowledged to have no inherent moral value, while in the other instance there are strongly differing views as to the moral status of the unborn child.
Unborn child 10 weeks conception
Photo by drsuparna CC-BY-SA 2.0
If any man believes that there are justified grounds for accepting that a preborn baby is morally equivalent to a born person, why should he, how can he, remain silent about the destruction of such a person? Would not the silence of such a man make him as culpable as those who remained silent when one section of humanity was brutally enslaved or another group was a victim of the holocaust?
While a man remains convinced that every abortion kills an innocent human being, how can he be silent?
The issue really comes down to, not whether men have any right to speak against abortion, but rather, does abortion involve the taking of a human life? If abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, then it is irrelevant as to who it is that says that such behaviour is wrong.
Everyone should say that killing innocent people is immoral. To exclude men from saying so just because they are men cannot be justified. Should only black people say that slavery is wrong? Should only Jews say that the holocaust was wrong?
It is of course obvious that women are much more directly affected by pregnancy than are men.
Women carry the growing child and go through the birthing experience. Unless though it can be shown that these factors are such that they can outweigh the preborn child’s right to go on living, then men, and women, should speak up on behalf of the preborn who cannot speak for themselves.
Clearly some women do argue that their carrying of the child does give them the right to be able to choose to end the child’s life, but this is disputable – just as the claim by the slaver owners that they had the right to enslave others was disputed.
Until it is absolutely established beyond doubt that it can ever be right to deliberately take the life of an innocent human being, men can, indeed should, speak up against abortion.
Graham Preston is founder of Protect Life
The impact of abortion on men
When people think about the role of men in abortion, it seems that they usually think about the stereotype of the man who forces the abortion or the male who abandons. However, there are many roles the man may have played in the experience. One man may have been involved in several abortions, each with a different scenario. The impact on fathers is mitigated by the role they play in the abortion. They fall into separate categories.
Read more click HERE
Men, abortion and suicide
Only a few studies have been carried out examining the impact of abortion on men. Counselors who work with men after abortion say that men have reported a large number of problems that they claim were a direct result of their abortion experience.
Read more click HERE
My journey through Abortion
When I was around the age of 19 my girlfriend, Sophie, came to me one day and told me we were going to have a baby. We had been together for a couple of years and this was a topic we had discussed more than once, should something like this happen.
Sophie refused to tell anyone especially her parents at that stage, which made things very difficult. I finally convinced her we needed to see a doctor and we went to my doctor to confirm the pregnancy and ensure she was ok. I’m a bit hazy on whose idea it was whether it was my Dr’s or ours but we ended up at the local Hospital being assessed by a Social Worker from the Pregnancy Support Unit.
After many lengthy interviews both together and separately we were seen as a young couple that could successfully raise a child. And we were ok with that. Due to the social workers decision it was not an option for Sophie to have a legal abortion from the Hospital’s criteria. This was one of the options discussed in the interviews. I believed at the time we could make this work for our child even if we didn’t live as a couple.
I finally convinced Sophie we must tell her parents. I asked her mum to come on a walk with me and we got no more than 20 yards from the house and she turned and looked at me and asked how far on was Sophie. She’d known all along. This was at the 3 month mark.
It was out in the open. I was sure I was going to get dragged out the back of the woodshed but instead Sophie’s father informed me they were worried Sophie would destroy my life. That was definitely not what I was expecting.
After 27 years some of the exact sequence is lost but some where around this time a third party became involved, a woman with an extremely strong personality and her husband.
The next thing I was being informed that Sophie was being taken to Auckland by this third party to the only illegal abortion clinic in NZ at the time. I don’t remember being referred to in the process, it just happened – Sophie and our baby were gone.
Sophie returned a few days later, I went to see her, we just sat, what could you say? I was numb. We stayed together as a couple, as I wanted to be there for her as best I could but the strain grew too much between us and we began to push each other away.
During this time I had to do something with all the feelings churning inside and as I had no one to talk to about it, I was suppressing it all. Who does a young guy talk to about this kind of situation? Talk to the wrong group of friends and you get told you were lucky – you’ve got a second chance at life – that’s not how I saw it at all. I was concerned what the trauma of the situation would do to my own immediate family so I just buried it deeper. I would only really speak of it when I was drunk or under the influence of other substances and with people I felt safe with.
At that time I was a keen outdoorsman so I went to a picturesque lake I knew and had spent many happy hours there. It was and still is a special place. I paddled to the most remote section of the lake and on a small hill I made a little grave and placed a simple cross for our daughter. Since becoming a Christian some 22 years ago and becoming aware of the grace of God, I’ve given my daughter the name Jasmine.
Eventually we ended our relationship. I moved 1,000 km away and began a new life. I returned to my old town about a year later for a family occasion and as I walked down the street and rounded a corner I walked straight into Sophie. She was heavily pregnant.
We just stopped and stared at each other. We didn’t say a word. Slowly we moved off still staring at each other.
I later found out Sophie gave that child to her sister to raise.
Approximately 18 months later I received a phone call very late one night. It was my Mum. Sophie had taken her life.
There is a road I can drive down whenever I return to that area, and from it I can see Jasmine’s lake and hill. The entire area has since been set aside as a wildlife sanctuary not to be disturbed.
I’ve only just started to tell my story and it stirs up a myriad of feelings. Some of the strongest ones are the anger, frustration and sheer grief that I didn’t want anyone to die and I couldn’t protect either of them. Also I wasn’t permitted to be with Sophie when she was in one of her darkest moments in her life. Other times I stop and wonder what would Jasmine be like if she were here now.
Many different feelings and levels of pain still sit just under the surface. But I’m working them out piece by piece. I’d like to thank my beautiful wife and our 5 children, without their support and encouragement I wouldn’t be standing before you. I’ve only just begun the next part of my journey through abortion.
* Richard has spoken publicly and to individuals about his experience with abortion.