By Dave Andrusko
It’s no secret that men’s role in abortion is under-studied. The brunt of it is how their “signal” to women is interpreted. Intuitively, we know that many women decipher a “neutral” answer on whether to have an abortion as a sign the guy wants her to go ahead and abort–that men don’t care–even in those cases where the guy passionately (but silently) wants her to carry their baby to term.
But what is the impact of men when their partner has an abortion?
Prof. Michael J. New wrote a piece for National Review Online last week titled “A New Study Shows That Men Are Adversely Affected by Abortion.”
It’s a thoughtful commentary on “Abortion’s Long-Term Negative Impact on Men,” a white paper from the group “Support After Abortion.” The white paper is only 16 pages long [including four pages of footnotes] so I would encourage to read Greg Mayo analysis.
“Support After Abortion commissioned a national survey of 1,000 men over the age of 18,” New explains. “Of those, 100 men met the criteria of having experienced an abortion at some time and were willing to participate in the survey. The study found that the role that men often played in their partner’s decision to have an abortion was small. In the study, about 45 percent of men reported that they had no voice or choice in their partner’s abortion decision.”
For starters, whether they are pro-life or pro-choice, “some men are deeply impacted by abortion, regardless of their personal views on abortion or whether or not they had a voice in the decision.”
A study commission by Support After Abortion “shows that the majority of men experience some negative impact from their abortion experiences including depression, anxiety and anger,” Mayo writes. However “because the society conversation surrounding abortion is primary about women, men’s grief is often disenfranchised.”
Most men said they had tried to find help or could have benefited from talking to someone (again, whether pro-life or pro-choice). “However, a lack of healing resources for men and a lack of their preferred options for care present obstacles to finding the type of support they desire. Further, while most wanted help, very few knew where to go to get support.”
A few summary conclusions. “71% of men said they had experienced an adverse change in themselves after their abortion loss.”
“While some men expressed relief (one man said ‘she did me a favor,’ and another man said ‘there was no loss’), the majority experienced some negative effect and men were deeply impacted, often for years.”
Another key finding, New noted, “was the sort of assistance that men would find helpful. Slightly over half of men said that they would prefer a licensed counselor. About 70 percent said that they would value anonymity when seeking help. Finally, nearly half of all men would prefer a secular approach to healing. Only 7 percent of men said they would reach out to a clergyperson for help.”
The report ends on a note of optimism.
“The Support After Abortion study was commissioned to understand men’s experiences with abortion to provide emotional healing. The knowledge gained from the research will help Support After Abortion to promote compassionate, non-judgmental care that can heal hearts and spirits, empowering people impacted by abortion to live with dignity, strength, and joy.”