Many in the media are pushing men to talk about a topic that they had previously branded a “woman’s issue”: abortion.
Just this week, on October 21, men’s magazine GQ and women’s magazine Glamour jointly published a piece with the headline, “12 Men Share Their Abortion Stories.” Abortion activist Amelia Bonow responded by tweeting a video of men interviewed about abortion from The Cut. Three days later, women’s site Refinery29 spread the message with its story, “Men On How Abortion Changed Their Lives.”
The media message seemed simple: men should talk about abortion, and they should talk about it positively.
In the GQ and Glamour piece, 12 men shared “how the procedure has impacted their lives.” But only one challenged abortion as a pro-life man.
“Even as male lawmakers dominate the debate around women’s reproductive health at the highest levels,” the story’s subtitle read, “public conversations about the very real experiences men have had with abortion remain rare.”
That’s because, magazine writer Rebecca Nelson argued, “There is a line of thinking that suggests that since it isn't their body on the line, men should remain quiet.” (It’s a line of thinking spread by her own industry, she might add.)
She pointed to the pro-life movement in comparison: “Men are an active presence in the anti-abortion-rights camp, leading some major pro-life organizations and marching proudly in demonstrations.”
But those were not the men she sought out for her story. Instead, she turned to abortion-friendly organizations.
“I found men through local abortion-rights chapters, online message boards, and organizations like We Testify and Shout Your Abortion,” she wrote. “The men varied widely in age, location, socioeconomic class, race, and ethnicity.”
But they didn’t vary in their ideologies. While some of the men felt torn about abortion and wondered about fatherhood, just one said he didn’t support the abortion of his child.
Diego, a 27-year-old New Yorker, revealed that he found out his girlfriend had an abortion – after the fact.
“[O]ne night she just came out and said, ‘Hey, I had an abortion this week,’” he remembered. “And I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’”
“She thought that I just wouldn’t want to deal with it, which was not the case at all. I was pretty devastated,” he continued. “And I was just thinking, like, Oh my God. I lost my child.”
As a Christian, he said the experience strengthened his pro-life stance.
“Since then, I’ve become more knowledgeable and active in why I believe abortion is wrong, as far as what the Bible says, the arguments for pro-life and for pro-choice, and how we talk about the issue,” he said.
Still, that wasn’t enough.
“I’m hurt that that baby never had a chance. I’m hurt that my girlfriend thought that was the right decision to make, especially without consulting with me,” he urged. “Because even though America says this is a women’s issue, it’s as much a man’s issue because it takes a man and a woman to make a baby.”
He concluded, “I think about that baby—not, like, every day or every week—but I think about that baby a lot.”
In Refinery29’s piece, writer Zoe Beaty spoke with four men – none of whom expressed regret or remorse. Instead, as one man named Jon said, abortion allowed him and his former girlfriend to “move forward with our lives in a positive way and have children when we were both ready – financially, emotionally – and in the right relationship.”
Also chiming in, Amelia Bonow, an abortion supporter and the head of Shout Your Abortion, tweeted on October 21 that “Men need to start speaking up about how their lives have been positively impacted by abortion.” Positively, and only positively.
She shared a video that her organization made, in collaboration with The Cut and Weird Dog Production. More than a half dozen men appeared in the video titled “Abortion Is for Everyone.” None of them identified as pro-life or against abortion.
But those men exist.
Pro-life group Silent No More Awareness Campaign compiles thousands of testimonies from women and men expressing remorse and regret from abortion. Those include stories from fathers.
One of them, named Scott, wrote, “I started drinking deliberately rather than casually at this time, hoping the awareness of the life we had conceived would disappear like the pregnancy had. But it did not. It never went away."
Another man, Paul, wrote a message to his child.
“This year would have been your 25th birthday. I apologize and ask for your forgiveness for the ‘would have been’ in that statement,” he urged. “I know you have forgiven me, and I know you are in the presence of Jesus, who has also forgiven me. I ask for strength from Jesus to find a way to forgive myself.”
A man named Chuck wrote, "I would give up anything to have that choice back; to have had the courage to say, ‘No.’ Instead, I said nothing."
The media are right: Both men and women should speak up about abortion. But in delivering that message, they have a responsibility to listen to the voices that are different from their own, rather than silencing them.