Author's note: This piece is co-authored by Jeanne Monahan.
This Father’s Day will be a celebration for dads all over the country, an opportunity for children to thank and honor their fathers. Yet for many men, the memory of involvement in a past abortion, of “cards they will not receive,” will be painful and palpable.
In a debate where the primary focus is a woman’s body and a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry a child to his or her delivery, the “other partner,” the father of the baby, is rarely given consideration, and is often completely disregarded altogether. The question of abortion is myopically women-centric.
Abortion advocates often mock pro-life men. Men are told they shouldn’t speak out because they can never become pregnant. Yet, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to acknowledge that two women cannot a baby make.
Less acknowledged is the fact that this decision deeply impacts the dad, too.
This year three Father’s Day cards will stand prominently on Jerry’s kitchen countertop, telling the wonderful story of the lives of his three grown children. But there is an empty space next to the cards which tells another story that continues to grieve Jerry and his wife, Dayna. Over thirty years ago, Jerry and his then high school sweetheart, Dayna, chose to abort two of their children.
Jerry deeply empathizes with any man who has taken the life of another human and lives daily with that burden and emotional trauma. The negative psychological impact of abortion on women has been well publicized, but less so have been the effects of abortion on men.
In researching the topic, we found a variety of books, websites and support groups dedicated to male post-abortion trauma, as well as a number of studies on the issue. One study reported that 82 percent of male parents of a recently aborted baby (ranging from two days to 37 months) experienced depression. Another study found that men experienced anxiety, helplessness, guilt, and a dual sense of responsibility and regret during an abortion. An additional study reported that many biological fathers need professional support in dealing with abortion and its impact on relationships.According to Guy Condon and David Hazard, authors of Fatherhood Aborted:
The Profound Effects of Abortion on Men, post-abortive men suffer from a whole host of problems, including relationship struggles, inability to trust friends, rage, addictions and sexual compulsions, sleeplessness, bad dreams, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, depression, fear of failure, fear of rejection, and loneliness.
Fortunately, Jerry and Dayna’s story did not have a negative ending. They married after high school, but continued to be haunted by the unspoken grief and burden of the two children they had aborted. Ten years and three children later, they came to a crisis in their marriage where they needed to honestly confront the lingering effects of the two abortions. There were unresolved issues but they found helpful resources to successfully work through them and make peace with the past.
Having found hope in their grief and regret, they deeply wanted others to avoid making these same mistakes. They felt the best way they could do so would be to support young people facing similar tough decisions, and decided to start a pregnancy resource center in Prattville, Ala., in this effort. Having opened its doors in 1992, “Grace Place” PregnancyResource Center continues to thrive and serve young mothers and fathers experiencing an unplanned pregnancy even today.
An estimated 50 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. For each of those 50 million babies, there is a father. Even adjusting those numbers to allow for men who father more than one aborted child, the count of post-abortion men in America is easily 30 million. This Father’s Day let us honestly engage men in the conversation about abortion and its impacts on everyone involved. There remain significant, long-term consequences of Father’s Day cards that will not come this week … all across America.