Abortion, the intentional ending of the life of a baby in the womb, is not just a woman's issue, regardless of the widespread belief and practice that the only contribution from the father is to support the mother in her choice. This has left thousands of fathers confused, broken and angry with virtually nowhere to turn for help. There have been over 10 million abortions since the introduction in England and Wales of the abortion act in 1967, and the effect on the bereaved fathers has been underestimated and largely ignored.
“Forty years later, millions of men have been affected by abortion. Many knowingly participated through a wide range of approaches, from passivity to coercion. The men who make up these grievous numbers are boyfriends and husbands. In other cases, the pregnant girl or woman was faced by pressure from her own father, relatives or friends to “get rid of the problem.” Some men abandoned the mother and crisis pregnancy situation altogether. Others responded with indifference, leaving the mother confused and feeling helpless. Others who were uninformed or deceived came to learn about the abortion after the fact. Still other men fought unsuccessfully for the lives of their unborn children” - AFA Journal
Below, you have some scenarios. You may feel that one is similar to the situation that you are/were in. Please read them, and the prayer response if you feel it is for you.
It’s a good choice for me
Pregnancy often comes as a total surprise to a young man who believes that sex is a leisure activity that does not need to be tied to commitment. Pregnancy raises many questions:
Is it your baby?
Why wasn't she taking better precautions?
How can you commit to financially and emotionally supporting a child when you hardly know the mother?
Surely you should finish your education and wait until you are independent?
For these reasons, and many others like them, the knowledge that abortion is legal, free, confidential and the mother has right to choose, means that you can consider your duty limited to supporting the mother in her decision to abort, and being there when she goes to the clinic.
“He can move on with “HIS LIFE” unhindered by family or child. He knows that he has lost a child, but for now that is perceived by him to be a blessing.” Warren Williams Fathers and Brothers Ministries, International
Yet in later years you find it hard to repress the regret and shame at your selfish behaviour, you recognise that you hardly gave a thought to the death of your child. You pushed away the distress the mother went through as not important, or even relevant.
A man who saw pictures of an aborted baby shared that he had encouraged his girlfriend to have an abortion when they were in their teens. The relationship ended soon after, and the girl had a lot of problems which he was afraid to admit might have had anything to do with the abortion. It was only years later when he had a wife and children that he was able to recognise how unfeeling and callous he had been, he expressed how horrified and ashamed he was of his behaviour then.
There is no excuse for me Lord, I was a father and I did not protect my baby or the mother of my child. I am ashamed, it has taken me so long to look honestly at what happened. I accept that I cannot really understand what suffering I caused by my selfishness. It is painful for me to admit these things, but I don't know how to continue knowing that I behaved so harshly to those I should have protected. Please forgive me. My involvement with that girl caused only harm – take pity on me Lord and give her blessing and healing. I have never looked on my baby's face, but I have to trust that you are keeping my little one safe. I'm reaching out to you, please have mercy on me.
I wanted my baby to live
You were told that you had no right to speak even though you had been in a loving relationship with the mother for years. You found it hard to have a conversation with her, she only seemed to listen to her pro-abortion friends. You were sidelined, your thoughts and beliefs discounted. You thought you had the same views, wanted the same things. After she had the abortion everything changed. You tried to continue to be supportive but you are no longer together. You feel afraid of allowing yourself to get close to anyone again.
A woman aborted her partner's baby against his wishes, she gave the reason that her mother would be angry with them if she knew she was pregnant without being married.. He felt so guilty and thought he should marry her and have another baby to replace the one who had died. However, she didn't want another baby, and the marriage didn't last. It took many years before he could talk about what had happened.
The instinct of every man to protect the vulnerable, in this case your own baby, is not acceptable, and the need to deny your feelings and support something which you didn’t agree with causes a sense of emasculation and role confusion, often masked by anger.
I have failed as a man, as a father and as a husband. I am so ashamed – where can I go for help? I feel frustrated and angry, yet also guilty and depressed. I've tried to be strong and sort things out myself but truthfully it is beyond me. There is so much confusion in my mind, do you understand God? Would you have pity on a failure? I can appear successful to the world but Jesus, you knew what it was like to be betrayed, I will trust in you.
I didn’t know until later
You didn’t know until much later. You still feel angry and shocked. You thought you knew her, that you could trust her. You loved her and would have loved your baby. It changed everything. You found yourself hating her. You still find it hard to talk about. Not many people know.
Sadly, abortion can be carried out without reference to the father, and without his knowledge. Even when a couple is living together or married it is not uncommon for this to happen, sometimes the truth emerges during an argument when it is used to hurt him. It is always cruel and very damaging. It is a deep wound that is very difficult to recover from. The shocked and angry reaction may result in an order to leave the home and have no further contact with the mother – especially if there are children involved who could be deemed at risk. He is cast in the role of aggressor, is too ashamed to share what has happened, has difficulty continuing with employment and may turn to drink or other substances to cope with the pain. A recent case study (Holmes, 2004) highlighted the effects of abortion on a young father who only learned that his partner had obtained an abortion nearly six months after it happened. Holmes describes the effects of worthlessness, emasculation, voicelessness, and the threat to the man's belief system as a result of the abortion.
God, are you there? Is there any hope for me? Who can I trust, who knows what I am going through? They see a failure, a fool, someone who is not worth anything, someone beyond help. Sometimes that's how I see myself as well. But where there is life there is hope, and I'm still alive! The confusion, the horror of what I've been through, of what my little baby went through, how can I continue – what do you know of suffering, God Almighty in heaven? I'm not even sure you exist. Yet I do know that Jesus lived, and suffered, and they say he came back to life. That he loves us and has the power to forgive and give peace. Oh Jesus if you can hear me, please help me!
I imposed my choice on her
It happened so long ago, and it’s only recently that you’ve seen the pictures and allowed yourself to think about those days. You have begun to realise that you were not right. You don’t see her any more; you’ve made a good life for yourself. You have heard that her life has been difficult and you hope that it hasn’t been a result of the abortion, but it concerns you that your insistence was harmful to her and to the baby. Now that you’re older you wish you had acted differently.
Men, out of a misguided desire to protect and care for their partner may be so sure that abortion is the most humane way to resolve the problem (especially if there is fear of disability in the baby) that they cannot even hear her concerns and arrange everything, over-riding her protests. It is only perhaps years later as they see the damage done to her emotions and the struggles she goes through that they have to recognise the responsibility they have.
I was so sure that I was right. I only acted out of concern for her, I was trying to protect her. It's terrible to recognise that she was harmed because of me, that she suffered so much and I didn't listen to her, I was controlling and proud. How I wish I could go back and change the way I was. It's difficult to think of what happened to my baby, but I've seen the pictures and it's terrible that I let that happen to my own baby. Forgive me God. Jesus said on the cross that he wanted those crucifying him to be forgiven, Jesus, hear my cry and forgive me!
I have been so promiscuous
In college and at university everyone was doing it. Abortion was just part of the way you lived, you believed not to use the service would have been reckless and foolish. The girls all understood, that’s just how things were. It’s not as though you forced anyone; it seemed they all had abortions, and you don’t know how many were even your babies. You haven’t really thought about what you did until recently, but you’re beginning to see how unhealthy those choices were.
Some men have a promiscuous lifestyle and do not seem to care about the fate of their unborn child or the mother, but display a callous and almost gleeful delight in declaring their belief that abortion is a great boon for them, and for all women. They will probably have encouraged abortion of their child on many occasions, and find it increasingly difficult to allow themselves to honestly face what they have done. A similar attitude is present in some women; this is a vocal and aggressive minority who probably have suffered but not allowed themselves to recover, rather they have hardened themselves until they are in such deep denial it is not possible to reach them without a change in their understanding. However we do not know what is going on in their hearts, the thoughts that they are suppressing. The way to healing is to be honest and take responsibility for their actions. To seek forgiveness.
“In this overriding choice of self-preference over the life of a child comes the guilt that lingers.” Lecrae