Taboo Grief: Men and Abortion
Michael "Chico" Goff was an honor student and a talented athlete headed for the pros in baseball when a knock on his door the summer after high school graduation changed his life. It was his girlfriend. She was pregnant.
Chico did what many in his situation have done he convinced her to get an abortion. Neither of us wanted to hassle with parenting, he explains. But I was the one who felt stronger about it. So I did what I thought was the responsible thing to do: I took her down to the clinic, and she had the abortion.
It wasn't until the following fall that the impact of what he had done crashed down on Chico. I would walk into a grocery store and hear a baby crying, and it would totally spook me. Ultimately, guilt and shame led Chico to seek counsel from a local pastor, where he learned about God's forgiveness and became a Christian.
Another man was faced with the same situation when someone knocked on his door. I was about 24 years old when I began a relationship with a woman at work, Don [not his real name] said. The relationship fell apart, but a few weeks after it ended, she informed me she was pregnant.
When Don, who had backslidden from his faith, learned she was considering abortion, he protested. I was in sales at the time, and I used every sales tactic I had ever learned to persuade her not to go through with it. Don lost the battle. Though he refused to pay for the procedure or even accompany her to the clinic, he agreed to pick her up afterwards. When he was driving her home, they were both traumatized by the sight of a mother at a bus stop, holding a newborn.
In both cases, the men initially felt a sense of relief, followed quickly by regret, sorrow and conviction. Both are permanently scarred.
They've been called forgotten fathers, men stripped of their fundamental right to protect their unborn children. Their grief is not validated by a society that paradoxically demands accountability from the deadbeat dad but scorns the one who wants his child to live.
Abortion rewrites the rules of masculinity, says Dr. Vincent Rue, one of the nation's leading psychologists in post-abortion issues. Whether or not the male was involved in the abortion decision, his inability to function in a socially prescribed manner leaves him wounded and confused. Society is not sympathetic to abortion survivors in general (Post-Abortion Syndrome is still not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association), and men are virtually ignored when it comes to abortion. Men are bypassed legally as well. Most men do not realize until they face a problem pregnancy that they have been stripped of all legal recourse to protect their unborn child, says Wayne Brauning, founder of Men's Abortion Recovery Ministries in Coatesville, Pa.
There's a sense that this is not your issue, says Chico. You've donated something to the process, but the process really happens outside of you.
Abortion rights come neatly packaged with two lies: Abortion is a woman's issue only, and the death of the unborn is not a real death. By accepting both lies, men who have lost children to abortion already have two strikes against them when they are confronted with their loss. Strike three is called when men neglect their own healing to console the woman, rather than express their own feelings of anger, hurt or betrayal.
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