By Dave Andrusko
It came as no surprise that with the United Kingdom release of “Obvious Child,” a Daily Mail columnist would share her own abortion story and—like the lead character in this abortion “rom-comedy”—would declare that eliminating her unborn child was “no big deal.”
More of a surprise is that a columnist for the Daily Telegraph would pen a very thoughtful piece based on his abortion experience and counter that it was a big deal for many whose voice is not often heard.
Abortion is “also a choice that has an impact on men as well as women, even though the media rarely presents the experience of abortion from a male point of view,” wrote Tony Perry.
We’ve written about men and abortion many times, but it also would be accurate to say even NRL News Today and NRL News New don’t give this side of the abortion triangle the attention it warrants.
Perry writes about the girlfriend he once had who, it would be fair to say, never seemed to be as much into him as he was into her. When she began to feel nauseous, Perry writes, she called him. He counseled her to have a pregnancy test.
“Jenny rang me as soon as she had a chance to take the test. ‘I think I’m pregnant,’ she said. Those words hit me like a sledgehammer. Her next words left me trembling: ‘I’ve decided to have an abortion.’
“I offered to come over so that we could talk things through. ‘There’s nothing more to say,’ she said icily. I tried to reply but she cut me off. ‘I don’t want this baby and it’s my choice to make. Do you understand me?’”
Much of the remainder of Perry’s column is a recollection of his hopes and fears (mostly the latter) as he tried to convince her not to have the abortion. I was especially impressed with this terribly poignant insight:
“Becoming a parent is supposed to be one of the most exciting – and of course scary – moments in the journey of life and losing a child is said to be one of the worst. Now, I found myself tasting both sensations at once. I had quickly come to terms with the prospect of parenthood, before fighting in vain to save the life I helped create. Nothing can describe the profound sense of powerlessness that comes with watching someone terminate a life that you helped create. I felt alone in a sea of pain, desperate to keep afloat.”
No pro-lifer would ever suggest that most men, when a girlfriend becomes pregnant, fight as hard as Perry did to save his baby. But that is not just because many men are not man enough to acknowledge and fulfill their responsibility. It’s also because most “everyone assumes” whether to carry that baby to term or to end the baby’s life is her decision alone.
But that overlooks entirely that most women will be looking for cues from the man in her life. If he is resigned to this being “her decision,” he sends a message of indifference, or lack of support, even if an abortion is the last thing he wants. A lethal spiral quickly gets established.
And contrary to most media accounts, Perry’s anguish is not rare, let alone unique. This haunting question will, doubtless, never go entirely away for many men like Perry: “I couldn’t help but question myself, wondering what I could have done or said that could have made her feel differently.”
Near the end, Perry writes
“Wounds do heal over time – even deep ones – but scars remain. Eight years later, I find myself incredibly blessed with a beautiful, bright and loving wife, a 19-month-old son and a daughter due in January. At times, I can’t help but look into my son’s deep grey-blue eyes and wonder what his older brother or sister might have been like.”
Perry is absolutely correct: “Men should have a chance to be heard.”