Should men have a say in abortion? Well, even if they don’t realize it, men do have a say.
Men and Abortion: The Greatest Influence
According to a national survey of women who had an abortion, women are most likely to discuss their decision to terminate with the father of the baby. The father of the baby was also the top selected answer for who had the greatest influence on the decision, far outweighing the influence of medical professionals and the woman’s mother.
I had the opportunity to discuss this influence with hundreds of clients in my role as Men’s Services Director for three urban pregnancy centers. It was my job to welcome and connect with men who accompanied their partners for pregnancy test and ultrasound appointments, many of whom were on the fence about abortion.
Most of the men I met were trying to do and say what was expected of them without anyone to encourage or support them. Few understood the true impact of their words, or lack thereof, within this conversation. Seeing this, I always made a point to ask, “Do you feel your input matters?”
Whatever She Chooses
Often, the men would reply that their partner had asked for their opinion, but they knew they weren’t supposed to give it. “I’ll support whatever she chooses,” was a phrase I heard over and over. Before I joined the team, the center staff had talked with countless clients who were considering abortion precisely because of this response from the father of the baby.
It’s a response that is often well-intended but can actually make someone in a difficult decision feel very alone.
I asked each man if we could talk more about his response. If he said yes, I would ask if he had taken part in creating the pregnancy and if he would have a part to play in the child’s future if his partner chose to carry to term. He would almost always say yes to both questions. “Would you consider that your input might be pretty valuable at this point, then?” I would offer. After discussing his thoughts, I would encourage him to be honest and open with his partner.
When this communication began to happen, the woman often responded with relief. She wasn’t “in it” alone anymore. Now they could discuss and make the decision together with all their fears and dreams on the table. I saw many men who engaged in this early decision process grow into truly supportive partners and dedicated fathers. It was an honor to encourage and equip these men throughout their partner’s pregnancy and I’ll never forget the pride and tenderness I witnessed in their eyes with their newborn child in their arms.
I also saw the impact abortion decisions had on men when they passed up the chance to contribute their thoughts and feelings. I saw otherwise promising relationships fall apart and realized how harmful it really is for men to believe they shouldn’t (or don’t) have a say in their partner’s decision. When it comes to this decision, silence from the father of the baby is “a say.”
An Interview With A Post-Abortive Father
Men and Abortion: Who Has a Say in the Issue?
If men whose partners are considering abortion have a say, what about men in general? Should they have a say? Working now for Care Net to support men’s programs at hundreds of pregnancy centers around the country, I’ve been thinking more and more about how Christian men should engage with the abortion issue. . . and about how we’ve engaged so far.
Care Net recently commissioned a national survey of 1,000 men whose partners chose abortion. The findings matched the women’s survey mentioned above, with men recognizing they were both the top-consulted person and the single greatest influence on their partner’s decision. But the most shocking thing I learned from the survey was that more than half of the men were attending church at least once a month at the time of their partner’s first abortion, yet only 5% sought advice from anyone in their church. This has profound implications for Christian men.
As we consider our say in the abortion issue, each Christian man should ask:
Are the things I’m saying (or posting) sending the message that I would be a compassionate and trustworthy source of help and support to someone facing an unplanned pregnancy?
Am I promoting a culture of grace within my church, or a culture where people would rather face hard decisions alone?
The Best Say
The pro-life “say” of Christians extends far beyond politics. It involves the daily words and actions of the whole body of Christ. As men, our say in abortion should start with a renewal of discipleship in our families and our churches. As men, our say in abortion can include not only supporting, but also our serving with the pregnancy centers in our communities. When we all minister to this issue together, we can use our say to bring the transformational power of the gospel to women and men considering abortion, reaching individuals and building up families through discipleship and church fellowship.
I know many Christian men are told they don’t deserve a say in the abortion issue because they don’t have a womb. I understand how frustrating this can be, especially as a devoted and protective father. But I would say the same thing to both the Christian man in the church and the expectant father in the pregnancy center:
You do have a say, and the best, most loving way to have that say is by listening, by serving, and by laying down your life.
The expectant father has the best say when he tells his partner, “I am with you in this, and we can do this. I am with you today, and tomorrow, and you won’t go through this pregnancy alone.” Every Christian man can have the same say by living out this message for those considering abortion in his church and community.