How Does Abortion Affect Men?
When we talk about abortion, it’s almost always in terms of women’s rights or how women are affected. Of course, this makes sense because the woman is the one who is pregnant for forty weeks and has to deliver a baby. But men are affected by it as well. And we think there’s room in the conversation to talk about that.
First, let’s talk about the men who’ve just found out about an unexpected pregnancy and how the abortion decision could affect you. Then we’ll talk about men who’ve already been impacted by a decision.
If you’re facing a surprise pregnancy, your partner might be considering ending the pregnancy. What can you do? Legally, you do not have a say. The courts have decided that, because the stakes are higher for women, and pregnancy and abortion affects a woman more directly, the woman has the sole choice in the matter. She doesn’t even have to notify you. So legally, you don’t have a part in the decision. But practically, you do have a role. If your partner tells you she is pregnant, you have an opportunity to be a part of the decision. So what can you do?
Listen in a way that honors your partner, and be honest about your own feelings. If you’re opposed to the option of ending the pregnancy, speak up in a kind and respectful way. Have all the hard conversations with honesty and integrity so that you won’t have any regrets later. Say everything you need to say. Offer everything you have to offer. This is the moment to step up and take ownership of the situation and be as honest as you possibly can be. Often, women say that if their partner is supportive and willing to co-parent, it makes a difference in their choice. So your words and actions can definitely impact your partner’s decisions.
Talk through your options with people who can give wise advice. Talk to a medical professional, but also talk to a counselor or to someone who has been in a similar situation. Consider all the options and listen to their experiences and advice. Perhaps some concern that frightens you the most will be calmed or eliminated through those conversations.
If you and your partner choose abortion, it doesn’t magically make the entire situation go away. True, she won’t be pregnant anymore, and you won’t have a child to raise. But there are lingering effects. As with any medical procedure, your partner could have medical complications. And it’s common for couples who’ve had abortions to experience grief. Some men and women experience depression, anxiety, and even PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The emotional side effects can be especially stressful on a relationship because it’s easy for blame or resentment to take root. Many couples make this choice thinking they’ll preserve their relationship, but oftentimes it increases problems and leads to their relationship ending.
If you’ve already been involved in an abortion decision, you may have some feelings about that. Because it’s is such a controversial issue, many people don’t talk about their abortion experiences. This leaves people to handle it all alone. Men may especially feel like they don’t have a right to talk about it because it’s primarily a woman’s issue. You might feel it’s not your story to tell.
But you have been affected. And it’s OK to feel whatever emotions you’re experiencing.
Some men coerce women into ending her pregnancy and then feel immense guilt or shame later on. Some men pay for the procedure and then feel solely responsible for the decision. Some men withdraw or abandon a partner to make the choice alone and then feel regret for not stepping up. Some men don’t want an abortion, but your partner has one anyway. And you grieve.
All of these emotions are OK. Abortion can be a traumatic event. It’s normal to feel grief, guilt, relief-then-grief, shame, fear, regret, and a loss of control. An unexpected pregnancy and an abortion are life-changing events. They change your relationship with your partner, and they change you.
If you’re feeling the impacts of a past abortion experience, it’s important for you to know you don’t have to navigate those emotions alone. If you call or email us, we’ll connect you with resources and help.
If you and your partner are currently faced with this decision, it’s also important for you to know that you don’t have to do this alone. If you contact us, we’ll connect you with resources and help so that you can make the most informed decision. No matter what you decide, you’ll be impacted — it’s important you know all the information before you choose.