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We need to break the silence on men and abortion

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When it comes to abortion, men are rarely given a platform to discuss their views. If they try, they are often drowned out by outraged screeches of 'no uterus, no opinion!'.

So when BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme last week called 'It's my baby too', a half-hour segment focusing on how men are affected by abortion, I was pleasantly surprised.

Presenter Aasmah Mir interviewed men about their reactions to their partners' abortions, and later asked women about how they feel men cope with the experience.

The answers were heart-breaking.

Some months ago, I wrote about how the 'pro-choice' argument is betraying women. But it is also betraying men.

'I think of it like a dark cave'

39-year old Tony, now married with children, supported his then-partner through an abortion, when he was in his 20s.

Tony said that after his girlfriend had had the abortion, he felt "empty… at a loss… just, cold, I think is the best word. I think of it like a dark cave, or I thought of myself as being in the middle of an ocean, with waves just towering, like dark shadowy waves, in a thunderstorm – that's what came to my mind… It was very much up and down, as you try to make sense of this, and sometimes you think you're alright. Other times you're just tugged beneath the water."

'Peter', now in his 60s, said that he went through the abortion process three times over a thirty-year period. The loss stayed with him permanently: "Regularly, I think, actually, I could have a 30-year-old. I could have a 25-year-old, I could have a 20-year-old now, I wonder what I'd be doing. It would be a completely different situation because I would have married her, and that I wouldn't have gone through the subsequent events that occurred in my life."

He said he'd wanted a child "hugely", adding that the 8-year-old he now has "is a source of complete and utter joy."

'It's almost as if it's taboo'

He added, pointedly: "I have not spoken to anybody about this, ever. I brought it up once recently but people wanted somehow to sweep it under the carpet with me… It's almost as if it's taboo, you can't really talk about that, whereas I'd quite like to talk about it, I'd be quite willing to talk about it."

'Peter' never told his mother about the abortions, because she'd wanted him to have a child.

Another would-be dad, 'Robert', told Aasmah Mir that there should be "a greater degree of paradigm" for men's mental health to be considered.

The consequences of 'choice'

A counsellor on the show reported that men often manage their emotions well at the time of the abortion, but experience grief later on: "They can become depressed, they can become very angry, they can be extraordinarily upset, sometimes shock can get in there as well," she said."So actually there is a whole range of emotions and sometimes a little bit of shame and disgust can get mixed in there."

Michael Simon, an American psychotherapist working with men, said that men often "give over their right to have feelings or thoughts about it."

But he also said that later down the line, men can experience a number of issues that can be traced back to their partner's abortion, including a loss of interest in sex, addiction to pornography, socialising less often, or turning to drink and drugs.  

The fallout of abortion is extensive. It is destructive to all of us.  

One woman interviewed on the show said that allowing men to discuss abortion with their partner will 'help'. But it's not enough to say "you're allowed to express your feelings but if I want an abortion I will have one regardless."

Abortion grief is preventable

The grief of abortion is preventable. Rather than focusing on helping men process this grief, we should work towards making it unnecessary. Would-be fathers, like would-be mothers, need to be encouraged to choose life, and to be assured that there is support available for doing so.

As the radio segment so powerfully conveyed, this is not just 'baby or no baby'. This is the choice between family; a life-long relationship with a child… or facing the heartbreak of the loss of that possibility. Abortion can radically change the course of a man's life too.

But we've chanted the 'my body, my choice' mantra for a long time(quite literally in some cases, if you've ever seen pro-abortion activists protesting), and to proponents of abortion, this must trump the heartbreak and loss of a would-be father.

A positive step forward

A feminist campaigner on the show, Sarah Ditum, said that men shouldn't even be given the space to talk about this: "The more you involve men, the more you take the focus away from women. You stop talking about this as a decision that a woman has to make… You're involving someone who in the physical sense is very much a 'Junior Partner' in the decision-making process."

Her belittling statement brings hope for the pro-life cause, because it demonstrates fear. Pro-abortion activists are afraid that their argument will be weakened.

If a woman knew that her partner would prefer she kept the child, and support her in doing so, would that change her mind? Would she feel relief at seeing there is another, better way?

Giving men a greater voice in the abortion debate (both on an individual and a wider level) will not end abortion overnight. It will take time for the echoes of 'my body, my choice' to hush. But Radio 4's segment is a positive step forward.

Let's hope others follow suit.

Related Links:
The 'pro-choice' argument is betraying women
"It's my baby too.": Men talk about what happens when their child is aborted (LifeNews)


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