Recognizing Men and Lost Fatherhood in the Era of Women’s Choice

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Is Pro-choice Ignoring Men? 

Save The Storks-Fatherhood - by Stephan Spassov

Photo by Stephan Spassov- Unsplash

Recognizing Men and Lost Fatherhood in the Era of Women’s Choice 

Since its legalization in 1973 the abortion debate has mainly focused on women’s rights: her right to choose; her body; her choice. But what about the fathers? In a society that celebrates abortion and a woman’s right to choose, how do we recognize the men who have also experienced the heartbreak of abortion 

While it isn’t publicized as loudly as the post-abortive struggle for women, men do often experience the same abortion trauma as women. A 1982 article from The New York Times expresses the fault in the pro or anti-abortion debate: men have been left behind and left out of the abortion debate. Men continue to be left out despite their role in the conception of a child. The New York Times has since changed their narrative, but the truth remains that men are still silenced in the abortion debate. Oftentimes men are left with a lifetime of pain because of their partner’s choice.  

 What about a man’s voice in abortion law? 

Despite the fact that it takes a man to conceive a child, their female partner does not legally need his consent in the abortion decisionIn 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that when an abortion decision is being made, requiring consent from the male partner is “unconstitutional.” In Planned Parenthood v Danforth, the court sided with women saying that if both partners disagree on the termination of pregnancy, only one of those decisions can prevail. According to this ruling, “since the woman actually carries the pregnancy, ‘the balance weighs in her favor,’ preventing the husband from vetoing her choice.”  

A similar ruling in 1992 had the Supreme Court again siding with Planned Parenthood in the Planned Parenthood v Casey case. This law states that a woman does not even need to notify her partner if she has an abortion. The decision came after it was decided that it would place an “undue burden” on the woman to tell her male partner that she was choosing to have an abortion. The example was brought forth of women in abusive relationships not wanting to tell her abusive partner to protect her safety or the safety of her children. In doing so, many men have been left in the dark about their lost fatherhood.  

Save The Storks - Fatherhood Alone - by Noah Silliman

Photo by Noah Silliman – Unsplash

Men Often Experience Many othe Same Post-abortion Trauma Effects as Women 

These two rulings by the Supreme Court have subsequently shut the mouths of many men around our country who want to be fathers. Though society doesn’t often talk about (or report) it, men often experience many of the same post-abortion trauma effects as women. The voices and stories of postabortive men are typically drowned out by the voices of “my body, my choice” and abortion as a form of empowerment. Because of this, very few studies are available to see how abortion affects men.  

In a 1997 studyCatherine T. Coyle, RN, Ph.D. created a support program for men who had previously experienced abortion. In this study, Coyle was able to identify many mental disorders. These mental disorders often arise for fathers hurt by their partner’s abortion decision. Several disorders are identified in the study. “The men were observed to have high anxiety, anger, and grief levels prior to intervention.” The study also mentions “significantly decreased levels of these variables after treatment as compared to control participants.” 

Unfortunately, because of the prominence of the “my body, my choice” narrative, the stories of these post-abortive men are not told. When a woman does become pregnant, it isn’t just her body that creates the new life inside of her. The truth is, many men do experience the pain and heartbreak from abortion as well – even if their post-abortive partner does not. 

We Hear Your Voices

Save the Storks is, and always will, turn up the volume on the voices of these men. We will give a voice to the men who have lost fatherhood.  A voice to the men who wanted their baby despite the mother’s choice to abort. Men who didn’t know about their partner’s abortion decision until it was too late. Men who pressured their partners to get abortions only to later regret their decision. We hear your voices and we see your hurt.  

There is help after abortion. To find post-abortive help and counseling, visit: 

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Katie Doryland
Katie Doryland
Katie is on the Awareness and Marketing team at Save the Storks. When she isn’t shipping out store orders or writing blogs, she is with her husband walking dogs and chasing a toddler around. Her favorite titles are “mommy” and “wife” and her favorite adventure is motherhood.