By Melissa Ohden
Editor’s note. Melissa survived a saline abortion in 1977. A published author, she has spoken all over the world, including many times at National Right to Life’s annual convention.
“When I heard you talking tonight about how often coercion and force happen in abortions, it really hit me. That was my experience. It was my mother.”
I hear circumstances like these time and time again, but this time it was different.
“My mom took my girlfriend for an abortion without giving me any say. Without giving either one of us a choice.”
Although it’s women that I often hear from regarding coerced and forced abortion, the reality is that many men have experienced it, too. Yes, there are men who are responsible for coercion and force, but we need to acknowledge that there are also men who have experienced the coercion and force of their girlfriend, wife, sister, or other family member or friend’s abortion.
And typically at the hands of one of their family members.
“It was just so good to hear from someone else who gets it. Who knows that I didn’t want this.”
The man that I spoke with after an event supporting his local pregnancy center struggled to find the words to describe what it was like to hear about my birthmother’s forced abortion, but we settled on the word validation.
Men have been told over the last 46 years now since Roe v. Wade was passed down, that abortion is none of their business, that they have no place to say anything.
And although, unfortunately, there are men who exert their say to pressure a woman to abort, there are men who have been either covertly or even overtly placed in a position that they can do nothing, or say nothing, to save the life of their child.
I look back upon my birthfather’s life, and wonder about how he felt, not having any say in what happened to my birthmother, what happened to me. My birthparents were engaged to be married—they had dated for four years before my birth mother became pregnant with me.
I’m sure he had protected her from many things in their years together. I’m sure he planned to honor her, live her, protect her throughout a lifetime of marriage. But then, my grandmother stepped in.
I think about him a lot, as you can imagine. Who he was, what my birthparents lives would have been like if they had stayed together, what my life would have looked like if my grandmother wouldn’t have forced the abortion.
But I wonder the most about how he dealt with all of this over the years. I wonder if my birthfather thought he was somehow alone in this experience, that he was the only man who seemingly failed in protecting his child…in protecting his fiancée? He mentioned once to his family that he had done something (around the time of the abortion) that he was so ashamed of, he would never tell anyone about it.
Whether it was the unplanned pregnancy or the abortion, we will never know, but from the experiences of so many men that I meet, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if his feelings of shame came from the forced abortion and his inability to intervene on our behalf.
Forty-six years into legalized abortion, I can’t even begin to imagine how many men live in similar shoes to my birth father. In order for future generations to be saved from abortion, current generations MUST HEAL.
Men need to hear that abortion affects them, too, and yes, men should have a say in what happens to the life of their child.
Men need to hear that the pain of abortion often has a lasting effect on the long-term physical, emotional, and mental health of their girlfriend or partner.
Men need to hear that there are resources and supports to exist their partner and their preborn child, even if their family or families are refusing to support them.
Men need to hear that even if their own father was absent and they don’t have an example to draw from for fatherhood, there are classes they can take to receive that information and experience.
Men need to be told that there are countless men, like my biological father, who know what it’s like to be placed in the position of coerced or forced abortion, and they don’t have to feel ashamed or embarrassed by their experience.
Shame and embarrassment often weigh us down, silence us into submission, hold us in a place of being incapacitated to do something with our experience that will result in good for others.
Men, here is your validation.
I may never have had the chance to tell my birth father face to face that he is loved and forgiven, and I’m so terribly sorry that he lost my birth mother and me in the forced abortion.
Take this validation as yours. And allow it heal and transform you.