In a society where unplanned pregnancy is largely considered a “female issue” and most of the focus is on the woman, her feelings, and her plans, abortion and men seem like almost contradictory terms.
Yet, many men report having very strong feelings on the subject – and being significantly affected by it when they experience it.
And yes, men experience abortion. They are the male partners of women going through elective abortions. They have emotional ties with their partner. They may not be the ones going through the procedure, but they do feel the impact. Even though men aren’t typically thought of as being affected by abortion, they are.
Impact of Abortion on Men
The discussion of abortion and men is an emotionally charged and controversial one. So much of the focus has been on the woman’s right to choose, that men tend to get lost in the shuffle. Some studies have been conducted exploring men’s responses to abortion.
One report about men and abortion explored this topic by reviewing a number of studies. Most of the studies showed a side of men that we don’t typically see when it comes to abortion. While many of the men did express feelings of relief, they also expressed feelings of powerlessness and grief as well as a conflicted conscience. In at least one study, more than half of the men surveyed reported that they still experienced grief and guilt a year after the abortion was performed.
Another interesting finding that was consistent in many of the studies in this report was that men have a desire for some type of counseling about abortion to help them process their experience and emotions. Social scientists are only beginning to step into this largely unexplored territory.
Abortion and Men’s Feelings
Abortion presents an unbalanced experience and men often are not encouraged to express their feelings or are directly instructed to keep their feelings to themselves. In some cases, men are even criticized for experiencing grief or feelings of loss after their partner has an abortion.
While most fetuses are jointly conceived, often men do not get the chance to talk about options with their partners in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Most abortion clinics don’t have any literature for men and often don’t have training to help them with counseling men.
If you are a man whose partner is considering an abortion or has had an abortion, you could feel conflicted, anxious, powerless, grief, guilt, and yes, even relieved. There are many benefits to seeking counseling to help you process an abortion, the loss, and your feelings. Often, talking with an objective third party, like a counselor, can help you work through those feelings so that you aren’t experiencing them months or years later.
It may even be a good idea for you and your partner to go to counseling together. Women often experience those feelings as well. Pregnancy Care Clinic can refer to local counselors. Make an appointment today.
Grief Tied to Abortion and Men
There are numerous studies on the mental health risks that abortion presents for women and the grief process certainly ties into that, but when it comes to men, the number of studies are fewer.
Men do grieve over abortion though.
The messages that we receive from our culture and society are one sided. We often hear of men who don’t want to be a parent and men who are supportive of abortion. We don’t see the man who is ambivalent to abortion or even opposed to it yet goes along to support his partner. We don’t see the man who opposed the abortion and begged his partner to not go through with it. And we don’t hear of the grief, the pain that these men go through.
By including your partner in the abortion experience you can make informed decisions together.
Strategies for Support on Both Sides
When an unplanned pregnancy occurs in a relationship, both partners need to support each other. Here are some ways you and your partner can support each other.
- Discuss your options together. This does not mean that one person monopolizes the conversation and tries to force their desires on the other. It means that one person talks and the other one listens – really listens. This is not necessarily a decision making exercise, it is just looking at all your options before you decide.
- Discuss your feelings. Both partners’ feelings matter and it is important that you know how your partner feels about the situation, options, and abortion.
- Listen to what your partner is telling you. Words are powerful and very telling. Is there a word that they would not be using otherwise, and what is the significance of this word in your life?
- Sometimes communication is more than just words. Look at your partner’s expression, tone, and inflection. What is their body language saying? What they do with their hands (wringing them, fidgeting, etc.)?
- Be affectionately supportive, like a hug, holding hands, and loving touch. Affection while talking about a difficult thing can communicate volumes. It says, “I love you and I’m here for you, no matter what.”
- Go through it together. You may feel like isolating yourself, but that can have dire consequences on your mental health as well as your partner’s. Come together and go through it together. Support each other. Cry together if you have to. Let it be an experience to make your bond stronger, not destroy it.
If you are a man who has experienced an abortion, you don’t have to go through it alone. At Pregnancy Care Clinic we offer peer counseling and information on all aspects of pregnancy and pregnancy loss. We are here to support both mothers and fathers so schedule your confidential appointment today.