Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion

The Daily Mail UK: Abortion and the Men Haunted by Regret

by Kevin Burke, LSW

Femail. Image shows Paul O'Callaghan who is telling the story of how he felt when an ex-girlfriend fell pregnant 12 yrs ago. He wanted her to have an abortion, despite her being 37 and without other children. 11/04/2014 Stephanie Schaerer 07878466804I was surprised and encouraged to see an article in the Daily Mail Abortion and the Men haunted by Regret featuring a number of fathers sharing openly about their abortion experience.

One father, Tony shares about his state of mind at the time he learned of an unplanned pregnancy. His partner Jenny was set on termination even as Tony pleaded with her to give birth to their child:

“My mind was all over the place…You are experiencing such conflicting thoughts and emotions. On one hand, you’re trying to get your head round the fact you’re going to be a dad when you didn’t plan to be and preparing to be emotionally connected to this child. On the other, you’ve got to disconnect, because there might never be a baby.”

“You got to disconnect…because there might never be a baby.” The social sanctioning of abortion, the context of “choice,” attacks the heart and soul of what it means to be a father.

The reality of the child’s existence is calling this young father to embrace his vocation, no matter how challenging the circumstances. Yet the legal reality that he is powerless, and his partner’s rejection of their baby, necessitates disconnection.

Fortunately Tony reached out for help and saw a counselor to help him cope with the natural anger and grief that flowed from this attack upon his manhood and fatherhood.

Charlie Conner serves with the Rachel’s Vineyard abortion healing program in the United Kingdom. Charlie shares in the Daily Mail article about some of the challenges men face after abortion:

“It’s natural that there is guilt and shame — a mourning process is meant to happen…Guilt will be greater if the man was the driving force in the abortion. Even if they are not religious, they can feel punished when there are other difficulties in their lives. If they have other children, there can be the fear something will happen to them as a result of what they did.”

The article touched on a number of important themes:

  • The role of contraceptive failure and intentional contraceptive failure in unplanned pregnancy
  • The damage to men of being both passive and powerless to prevent the abortion or active agents in the child’s death.
  • The same sex identity embraced by one man 3 years after the procedure
  • Some men can experience symptoms associated with emotional trauma after abortion
  • The delayed onset of grief, regret etc. for some men and the need for counseling and other support.
  • The common relationship termination following the procedure
  • One of the men featured remained single and childless 15 years after procedure
  • Anniversary reactions to the date of the abortion or around the time of the child’s due date

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