Forgotten Fathers: Men and Abortion

Forgotten Fathers: Men and Abortion

Research has always focused on abortion and women, while men have been legally, psychologically and medically forgotten. At a time when men are changing rolls and are becoming increasingly involved in the lives of their children, they are systematically denied the right to be involved in life-or-death decisions affecting their unborn children. This powerlessness takes its tole not only on the male self-image, but can bring on roll conflict, excessive guilt, depression and more often than not the end of the relationship with his partner. Abortion is said to be a simple surgical procedure which produces little or no psychological impact on the mother or the father. In fact, most fathers, as well as mothers, deny any negative emotional consequences from abortion. Men who choose to accept their feelings, rather than deny them, often describe the abortion experience as bewildering and painful beyond their coping abilities.

Empty Feeling

Three out of four males said they had a difficult time with the abortion experience. Some have even reported having persistant day and night dreams about the child that never was, and considerable guilt, remorse and sadness. For men and women alike, the feeling of emptieness may last a lifetime, for parents are parents forever, even of a dead child.


Emotional resolution is nearly impossible because there is no conclusion-just a memory. The unborn child was denied life and as a result he or she is also denied a grave or marker which leaves the grieving process unfinished. Beyond the emotional effects on men, the relationships suffer as well. 70% fail within one month of an abortion.

Tangible Results

Clinical experience shows that men become hostile when they have been excluded from decision making and when they discover that they have been deceived and manipulated. Men, like women, are human and far from perfect. In the abortion decision, all too frequently the father's role is marginal and passive. He is usually bypassed by the mother, ignored at the abortion clinic, and helpless in the act and aftermath of the abortion istself. This role conflict may well be responsible for the increase of male sexual dysfunction.

The Male Role

A recent national pole found that 87% of the population thought that the ideal male should "stand up for his ideas." Yet, in the abortion decision, the male's input is insignificant because of the absolute autonomy provided his sexual partner under law. Nowhere is the abortion experience more painfully felt than in the area of a man's role expectation to be responsible and to protect his lvoed ones. The results of a national poll indicate that three out of four respondents still believe that the ideal man is one who will fight to protect his family. Yet how can one protect, when one is not allowed by law to be involved in a life-or-death situation?

Dealing with the Grief and Guilt

It is a strong belief (personally and otherwise) that once an abortion has taken place, it is just as important to councel the father as it is the mother. It does not matter if it is the mother or the father, the loss of a child is like no other. Guilt and grief can be tenacious, and they cannot be willed away. One of the best remedies for guilt is the bright lights of self-disclosure. Talking about your feelings helps clear up guilt and has been known to generate small miracles. Another aid to resolving guilt is to simply acknowledge that there is unfinished emotional business. The act of acknowledgement itself lightens up the individual considerably because it lets him stop pretending. He can then also acknowledge the pain felt at the time. Resistance of feelings, not the feelings themselves, is often the major portion of the problem. When feelings are opened up and allowed to be felt deeply, they can bring knowledge. Reconciliation of the death of one's unborn child ultimately involves the act of forgiveness. Forgiveness for abortion flows from being willing to know the truth and to tell the truth. To grow is to be able to forgive oneself no matter the degree or the nature of the mistake. Unfortunatley, people often get stuck in trying to forgive before they accept their own feelings exactly as they are. Thinking that they should or must forgive, and attempting forgiveness, prevents them from actually experiencing it.

No Forgetting

To forgive oneself is not the same as forgetting an abortion. The child can never be returned. Memories will remain, but the negative feelings towards oneself can be reconciled. Abortion is a far greater dilemma for men than researchers, counselors and women have ever begun to realize. Many men (fathers) are victims of abortion along with women (mothers) and unborn children. For now they are often silent sufferers, bewildered and frustrated by their responses to abortion. With time, perhaps a true equality of the sexes will provide for more democratic decisions, more love and less pain and the realization that abortion is no solution at all!

The above information was taken from
Forgotten Fathers: Men and Abortion published by
Life Cycle Books