Men and Abortion: Do they have a say?
We live in a society that teaches women that they are in charge of their body. Whatever decision they make is absolutely their choice.
Many feminists have fought for that choice on one of the most controversial issues – abortion. Similarly, other groups have fought against such a decision. Debates on pro-choice and pro-life have become a never-ending battle.
Contemplating to terminate a pregnancy could never be easy on a woman, who has to make the final decision about whether or not she is going to have a child. While she is taken on an emotional roller coaster, and faced with many thoughts and doubts in this scenario, there are times the other person is easily forgotten in this case – the man. Yes, the man.
Some people may think that he isn’t an important factor in this case, because, let’s face it, he isn’t the one carrying a child, or who’s going to have to put his life on a standstill to accommodate this new life, and all the additional trauma that pregnancy may bring. In fact, because of stereotyping, one may think that he is the instigator, prodding the woman to have the abortion, or threatening to leave her if she doesn’t.
“There are instances when the man happens to not agree with the woman’s choice to abort their child.”
However, there are instances when the man happens to not agree with the woman’s choice to abort their child – because he’s genuinely excited about becoming a father, abortion goes against his religious beliefs, or a combination of both. Since the woman is often the focus, as the situation deals with what is happening within her body, it is sometimes overlooked that the unborn child also belongs to him. While he isn’t the one to carry a full-term pregnancy, he is the child’s father.
Yes, there are the men who may seem less interested in whatever the woman’s choice is. This may be a result of the current state of that relationship. But there are those who are genuinely interested in the well-being of their child, and encourage their partner to carry through with the pregnancy. So when their partner decides to go through with an abortion, they have to deal with their own emotions.
I went to my male friends, and asked them to share their views on this issue. One adamantly objected to the thought of not being able to voice his concern.
“Well, I would definitely have a problem with not be able to voice my opinion in the decision process,” one said. “It is my sperm that created this being and it’s my child.”
Another noted: “Yes even though the woman is the vessel that carries the seed, the man still has a part to play. I say have the child and let the father take care of it. Society has it that men are mostly deadbeats, but the reality is that most men handle their responsibilities even more so than most young ladies of today.”
While another added: “In my view, a man should have an opinion, because it took two to tango, ultimately the end result would be the woman’s.”
These guys also noted that while they might have an opinion with respect to their partner’s decision to abort the child, the ultimate choice would in fact be the woman’s. Even if they pleaded and supported the woman, she still has the choice whether or not to have the child. As a result, men could feel helpless in this scenario, and in addition to the impact on each individual, there’s no doubt that it affects the relationship as well.
Now, the responses so far may sound idealistic to those who’ve actually had this experience. So, I got feedback from a guy (let’s call him Dre*), who’s in his late 20s, who actually experienced this… twice. According to him:
“From my experience, being with someone who chose to have an abortion, it was ultimately what caused us to break up, because we did not work together to help deal with it. Even though I told her I didn’t want her to have the abortion, she went ahead. She did her own thing, and I handled it in my own way. Then, a few months later, she thought I was over it, and so did I. But things started happening that made us realize that I hadn’t, and we spoke about it, but did not know how to figure it out on our own.
“Now I’m going through it again with someone else who has chosen to go ahead with the pregnancy, against my wishes. It’s kind of f*cked up because part of me does want her to have the baby, because in my previous relationship I actually wanted a child with that person. Either way, the male is taken for a ride.
“It’s a serious, emotional rollercoaster for both parties, and although I am upset that I did not get a say in this second instance either, I am glad that I am going to have the opportunity to have the fatherhood experience that I wanted, even though it’s with someone I’m not in a serious relationship with and would have preferred to not have a child with. This is also why people close to me do not understand why I am allowing myself to be ‘trapped’ by this person.”
“Ultimately, the woman has more of a say.”
Either way, Dre’s both experiences show that, ultimately, the woman has more of a say.
While silence, uninformed responses, and even wisecracks are still the norm on this issue, the general stigma against abortion often keeps men and their partners silent – even with their closest of friends and family. In the same way that contemporary men are still searching for ways to be honest with each another about all things sexual – abuse, orientation, and dysfunction – they just don’t seem to have the language to talk about their abortion experiences. Societal influence of moral and ethics also has a major part to play in decisions here.
The man’s response to such an issue may not be necessarily like that of his partner. He may display anger, resentment, place blame, or even become verbally abusive toward his partner, simply because he has no channel of expressing his hurt, or he may feel that he doesn’t have a chance to voice his opinion on how he truly feels about his partner’s decision to abort their child.
Research shows that men also experience guilt, shame and trauma. They grieve. They may obsess about the child they wanted. Some even live in denial about the emotional torture they’re experiencing.
While there are many views on the issue, when it comes to dealing with abortion within a relationship or consensual ‘hook-up’, each couple’s situation varies, and the decision may not seem as straightforward as one may think. There will always be those for and against abortion. However, remembering that the man’s role in this decision is important, and should be considered, is imperative. Being able to communicate his issues with the woman fosters a healthier relationship between these two people, so that – whatever the final decision may be – there is a mutual understanding.
What do you think? Should a man have an equal say in a woman’s decision to have an abortion?
* Name changed to protect identity.
Image credit: ght.org.uk
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Jolisa Brewster is a south girl, who is still adapting to her adopted town life. She loves to talk as much as much as she loves to write, and is currently pursuing a degree in media and communications. She also happens to be an avid foodie. When she isn't talking her family to death, you can find her eating her way around Trinidad and writing about it. She is learning to not take life too seriously and plan so much. God does laugh! Especially at her.