From the moment a man becomes aware of a pregnancy, an emotional bond begins to form between him and the fetus, a bond that will remain whether the pregnancy ends in miscarriage, induced abortion, or a live birth. To say a man should not love, grieve for, or possess any legal rights to his own flesh and blood—a new human being whose genetic makeup is half his own—is as illogical as it is insensitive. How could the loss of his child not affect his emotions?
More Information For Men:
- What Is Post Abortion Stress/Trauma?
- Testimonies from Men who have agreed to Abort their Baby
- How Does Abortion Hurt Men?
- Symptoms of Post-Abortion Stress/Trauma in Men
- The Healing Path
Since the U. S. Supreme Court issued the ruling that legalized abortion be available on demand on January 22, 1973, over 47,000,000 abortions have been performed. That means there around 95,000,000 parents that have undergone the death of a child. As you can imagine, the eventual emotional fallout of such numbers is incalculable.
Post-Abortion Stress/Trauma (PAS/T) is a recognized condition which results from the unresolved psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of a past abortion. You may begin to see some of the effects of your stress or trauma as you struggle to work through conflicting thoughts and feelings regarding the past abortion of a child you had fathered. Through either denial or rationalization, many men block the natural grieving process which is triggered by the loss of a loved one.
Some men may deny their responsibility for the abortion or rationalize the decision as the "right" or "best" move at the time, considering the circumstances. What at first seems like a helpful psychological defense to feeling pain or experiencing guilt or loss, however, actually hinders the healing process by preventing recovery.
Psychiatrist Dr. Kyle D. Pruiet of Yale University says that many men do not have any idea of how much they are hurting and "then, whammo, they feel very guilty. Counselors recognize 'post-abortion syndrome' that is felt by men as well as women: loss, sorrow, depression, and anger, often lasting many years after the event." 1
In fact, studies have shown that men are more likely than women to blame themselves for a pregnancy and more likely to feel guilty. Because our culture sends the message that it is less acceptable for men to express their emotions and grieve the loss of a child than for a woman to do so, men will often stuff their emotions or feel even added guilt and shame for having them at all. Psychiatrist Richard Epstein writes that "a man may feel deeply rejected by the destruction of the most important thing he can give to the woman he loves and, if so, he may undergo a profound depression." 2
"My life has changed dramatically from this experience . . . I have had nightmares, dreams that I could see the doctor coming up to her and ripping the fetus out of her. I used to wake up at night sweating . . . I just cried and mourned. The nightmares always come—they still come."
-Bill Thomas, African-American, age 26, Fireman
"She told me that people were coming up to her and asking her, "What happened to Burt? He's changed." Everybody knew that something profound had happened to me and that I wasn't talking about it."
-Burt Mueller, Caucasian, age 28, Musician
"Not only is there a loss, but you are also a failure. Your primary function in life is to provide for and protect your family. And those [aborted] children are my family, and I failed. They're dead and I'm not."
-Bill Hitchings, Caucasian, age 36, Cabinet maker
The far-reaching effects of abortion are not limited to just the men who father aborted babies. Grandfathers, siblings, other relatives, and certainly men who marry women who have had an abortion are also affected by the pain and loss that accompany such a tragedy.
It is always healthy for men who have been affected by an abortion to grieve the loss of their child and to experience closure and healing from wounds which frequently go unidentified. The good news is that healing and forgiveness is available to everyone.
Here are some ways that men are hurt by abortion that you may not have considered:
- Abortion takes the life of a developing baby in the mother's womb and so ends the process of procreation between a man and a woman. It thus destroys the seed of a man, severing his lineage.
- Abortion violates and betrays a man's true heart, which is made to sacrifice, protect, commit to, and provide for another, especially one that is in a state of weakness or helplessness, such as an unborn child.
- Abortion is a conscious decision that significantly violates the value of life. The decision to reject and destroy life instead of uphold it as valuable is eventually more psychologically burdensome than any "problem pregnancy" could prove to be.
- The guilt and fear which result from abortion can hurt a man's ability to trust God, himself, or women in the future.
- Abortion may leave deposits of anger, anxiety, or doubt inside a man that, if left unidentified or unresolved, will grow and damage his ability to function as he should in relationships, especially as a father or husband.
- Abortion may cause a man to fear that God will not accept or forgive him for what he has done, or that God will not bless his efforts to live a good life. These doubts will most certainly affect his confidence and ability to perform.
- If a man unsuccessfully opposed the abortion or learned about the abortion only after it was done he may feel betrayed and angry.
The symptoms listed below, though common, are not exhaustive or all-inclusive:
- Instability in relationships with women.
- Instability in bonds with children.
- Sleeplessness and/or nightmares.
- Avoidance behaviors or addictions.
- Reluctance to accept proper responsibility for things.
- Sexual dysfunctions.
- Lack of confidence or unexplainable anxieties.
- Depression, fear of failure, or fear of rejection.
- Uncontrollable rage.
- Loneliness or emotional numbness.
- Sense of loss or lingering grief.
Here is a list of positive results your particular healing path should lead toward and expect:
- Identification of where and what the hurt inside of you is.
- Clarification of wrong ideas about God, self, and others.
- Grief and mourning of loss.
- Recognition of accountability in decision to obtain an abortion.
- Exposure and processing of anxiety, rage, doubt.
- Rebuilding of confidence as a protector, provider, and preserver of family.
- Rebuilding of trust in God and others.
- Formation of positive support structures in life.
- Experience of forgiveness and acceptance from God and others.
- Extension of forgiveness to self and others.
- Formation of tools for rebuilding relationships.
- Experience of freedom and empowerment to again be the man God created you to be.
1 Jacoby, "Doesn't A Man Have Any Say?" Newsweek, May 23, 1988, p. 74.
2 Thomas W. Strahan, "Portraits of Post-Abortive Fathers Devasted by the Abortion Experience," Association for Interdisciplinary Research Newsletter, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Nov./Dec. 1994), p. 1.
3 Found in Lindy Pierce, "Hidden Tears" (Jefferson City, MO: Easton Publishing Company, © 1986, 1998).