By Robin Keahey
Editor’s note. Father’s Day is this Sunday. For many men who have been a party to an abortion, this will be a grim reminder of obligations shirked and lives lost. The following first ran earlier this year at Pregnancy Help News.
Shock Jock Howard Stern invited former Full House—and upcoming Fuller House—star John Stamos for a sit down Jan. 4. While Stern is known for his outrageous interview questions and crass humor, one question in his interview with Stamos hit especially close to home for many.
Asked if he’d ever gotten someone pregnant, the reputed playboy revealed he had in his late 20s, but the woman had an abortion.
But here is where the conversation took a revealing turn. In speaking of the abortion, Stamos enters some contradictory territory, claiming that, while the decision to abort, “really wasn’t my choice,” it still remained, “sort of a mutual decision.”
Can you remember the last time you had no “choice” in a “mutual decision”? I can’t, but apparently, John Stamos can.
It’s unclear as to how Stamos understands his contradictory explanation for the abortion. He either played a part in the decision or he didn’t. He knows, for example, whether or not he gave the woman money for the procedure. He knows whether he visited the abortion clinic with her. He knows if his words were meant to move her toward the abortion stirrups.
Deep down, John Stamos—and every father—knows whether he encouraged the mother of his child to abort their baby or not.
Justification is a fickle thing. It’s always changing to fit our perception of what we wished would have happened.
Since the abortion, Stamos’ fame hasn’t shielded him from hard times. In 2005, his marriage to actress Rebecca Romijn ended in divorce. The 52-year-old actor was recently arrested for driving under the influence, prompting a stint in a residential alcohol rehab center.
Nor has his role as spokesman for “Project Cuddle,” a non-profit dedicated to fighting child abandonment through life-affirming help and access to adoption services, appeared to have cured Stamos’ conscience.
In the interview, Stamos admits his addiction to alcohol was not the only obstacle he has had to overcome. He has also battled addiction to the prescription sleep aid Ambien, calling the drug, “super dangerous … [It was] difficult to memorize scripts, I couldn’t remember names and faces and things.”
After hearing Stamos’s story, I wonder just how much of his problem with substance abuse stems from his experience with abortion.
We in the pregnancy help community know the pain of past abortions is real. We’ve all heard the stories of grief and depression ravaging the lives of post-abortive women. We all know men and women who bear the emotional scars from a past abortion. In fact, many in the pregnancy help community still deal with the pain and regret of our own past abortions.
And recently, we’ve seen an uptick in the amount of men coming forward to say that abortion has hurt them far more than they ever imagined it would. There are now organizations devoted to helping men heal from past abortions.
One such organization is the National Office of Post-Abortive Reconciliation and Healing, Inc. On its website, men describe their reactions to an abortion loss. From chemical abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc.) and grief over the loss of fatherhood, to increased risk-taking behavior and rage, their reactions are equally devastating as those of post-abortive women.
Fatherhood Forever, the men’s outreach arm of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, pulls together research and testimonies of men who regret abortion on its website, while connecting visitors to help. The site points out six likely roles a man may have played in an abortion, at least one of which sounds similar to what Stamos describes:
You passively left the decision up to your partner. You may have been confused about what to do, or you felt it was entirely her choice.
There is something very familiar—and inherently tragic—about Stamos’ apparent failure to connect the dots between drug and alcohol abuse and what could very likely be at the root of his struggles.
Sadly for John Stamos, art has not imitated life. While the actor has played father roles in several sitcoms—including his current series, Grandfathered—he has no children. That, he told Stern, is “the only thing that’s missing” from his life today.