At Word of Hope we see how important it is to not overlook the needs of men. For every woman who participates in an abortion, there is a man. Although men are less likely to seek recovery, they suffer many of the same emotional feelings as women.
Jason was 19 years old. He had just joined the military when his girlfriend wrote and told him she was pregnant. “I was scared but excited, I wanted to marry her.” When he returned home after basic training, Jason was informed by his girlfriend’s father that he had taken his daughter for an abortion. Kate’s father told him he would no longer be allowed to see his daughter. Jason left. That was ten years ago and he still cannot stop thinking about her and his child. Jason says, “When I see a young pregnant woman I think about her, I let them both down, I was not there to protect her or my baby.” Jason sought counsel from Word of Hope, where he learned about God’s forgiveness. He then returned to his childhood church.
Tom was a struggling college student when his girlfriend told him she was pregnant. Tom did what many in his situation have done, he convinced her to get an abortion. “Neither of us wanted to be parents,” he explained, “But I made the appointment for her. I will never forget how her face looked when she came out of the abortion clinic. She looked like she died along with our baby. I still remember going to McDonalds afterward. It has been twenty years and I still think about her and our baby when I pass there.” Ultimately, guilt and shame led Tom to Word of Hope for counsel, where he learned about God’s forgiveness.
In both cases, the men say what followed was regret, sorrow, and conviction. Both are permanently scarred.
They have been called forgotten fathers, men stripped of their fundamental right to protect their unborn children. Their grief is not validated by a society that paradoxically demands accountability from the deadbeat dad but scorns the one who wants his child to live.
“Abortion rewrites the rules of masculinity,” says Dr. Vincent Rue, one of the nations leading psychologists in post-abortion issues. “Whether or not the male was involved in the abortion decision, his inability to function in a socially prescribed manner leaves him wounded and confused.” Society is not sympathetic to abortion survivors in general (Post-Abortion Syndrome is still not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association), and men are virtually ignored when it comes to abortion. Men are also bypassed legally. Like Jason, most men do not realize until they face an unplanned pregnancy that they have no rights and no legal recourse to protect their unborn children.
The are two “abortion rights” lies: Abortion is a woman’s issue only and the death of the unborn is not a real death. Men neglect their own healing to console the woman, rather than express their own feelings of anger, hurt, or betrayal.
What prevents men from dealing with their past abortions? First, men often don’t know they are suffering because the symptoms of post abortion stress seem unrelated to the abortion itself—inability to form trusting relationships, difficulty bonding with children, anger, risk taking, depression, suicidal feelings, panic attacks, and addictions. It is not uncommon that it may take up to ten years before men make the connection between their unhealthy behavior and an abortion.
Word of Hope offers help for men. For men to heal from an abortion they must:
Grieve: Men have been taught not to show their feelings. They need to cry and acknowledge that they have lost somebody who is dear to them. The result is that grown men have a difficult time expressing their own emotions. Many have never seen their fathers cry. Some have never seen another man cry. Combined with their fragile ego and lack of “emotional” role models, it is understandable why men don’t seek recovery. However, men feel pain just like women. Men grieve the loss just like women.
Forgive: It took Jason ten years and Tom twenty years to fully grasp what had happened and to accept God’s love and forgiveness.
Reconcile: After an abortion, 70 percent of relationships end shortly thereafter. Many men seek some sort of reconciliation with those involved. Tom contacted his former girlfriend and apologized for his role. Jason still has a strong need to find his girlfriend and tell her he is sorry for not protecting her.
Acceptance: I am a father. My child would have been ten or twenty by now. Until men begin to acknowledge that abortion has damaged their lives and do something about it, society, families, and the Church will continue to suffer. For men and women alike, the feeling of emptiness may last a lifetime. Parents are parents forever, even of a dead child.
As we come to Jesus we are in truth no longer separated from our God. We are completely forgiven as if we never sinned. We have the privilege of experiencing how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18).
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