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Men and Abortion


Project Joseph is a new outreach of the Healing after Abortion Ministry by and for men suffering from abortion. It offers Days of Healing in both English and Spanish for men.

To find out more about Project Joseph, visit www.projectjosephdallas.org.

For confidential assistance and to register for a Day of Healing, contact 
469-720-2273 (CARE) or (English)
469-605-7262 (SANA) sanacion@projectjosephdallas.org (español)


The Male Experience and its Effects

The prospective father is likely to play an important part in the decision for childbirth or for abortion. It is well recognized that attitudes of the husband or male partner towards a pregnancy can strongly influence a woman’s abortion decision. If there is sufficient practical-emotional support, studies show that over 80% of women would choose not to go through with an abortion1. When a woman is pregnant out of wedlock and receives no help from the father of the baby, or the husband or partner doesn’t want the baby she is carrying, she will most likely feel subtly, or expressly, coerced or pressured to consider abortion as the best or only option. 

The scenarios for men are many and varied. Each carries with it a potential legacy of hurt and pain. Fathers become involved in an abortion in one of five ways:

  • They encourage or support the woman to have an abortion: "I knew she was pregnant and I supported her decision completely."
  • They pressure her to abort: "I knew she was pregnant and I encouraged her to have the abortion. She wanted to have her baby."
  • They abandon her to make the decision alone: "I knew she was pregnant but I abandoned her. It was her responsibility, not mine."
  • They unsuccessfully oppose the decision: "I knew she was pregnant. I didn’t agree with the decision to abort, but went along with it because it was her body and it’s what she seemed to want. I knew she was pregnant and I tried to stop her having an abortion but I couldn’t."
  • They learn about the abortion only after it happened: "I did not find out about the pregnancy and abortion until it was over. I had no say it."4

Some men are passive and do not say anything or reveal what they really think or feel. This may be partly due to a belief that the decision for childbearing or abortion lies with the woman, or they consider that their legal status (or lack thereof) dictates the context for such an approach. They may then, sometimes mistakenly, convey an attitude of indifference or abandonment to their pregnant partner. 

The thought of having a baby can be perceived as a threat, and it can feel easier to have an abortion than have a child. Some men struggle to, and perhaps cannot, accept the pregnancy. If a man is psychologically overwhelmed by the pregnancy of his partner, he may attempt to escape the angst the situation generates and avoid or detach himself from the decision making process. 

Men may have their own needs neglected during the early stages of the pregnancy, when a woman may become more inward-looking and thus less attentive and responsive. Some men experience resentment and anger, which may be expressed by the withholding of interest and affection, or playing on her vulnerabilities (e.g. concern about body shape and need for reassurance she is loved)5.

Historical experiences for a man can impact on his attitude to sexual relationships and his readiness for the life-responsibility of paternity or for long-term relationships. Significantly more abortion husbands compared to childbirth husbands reported poor relationships with either or both parents, a more unhappy childhood, more psychiatric illness in their family, and a higher incidence of alcoholism, drug dependency, neurosis, and compulsive gambling7
Some men have difficulty seeing themselves as a father. Other factors such as career or life goals, financial situation, feeling too young, fear of commitment, etc. may feature in his rejection of the co-responsibility of parenthood. His relationship with his sexual partner at the time may not be secure or long-term. In other situations, there may be conflict in the relationship, which may involve third parties; for example, if a man is not sure he is the father of the child, or if there is unfinished business with a previous partnership or relationship for either the male or female, or an extra-marital affair responsible for the pregnancy. This can produce huge dilemmas for a man.

There is a general misconception when it comes to abortion that men don’t care. In reality, some men care immensely, and abortion is more stressful for men than is publicly admitted. Research shows that the majority of men in clinic waiting rooms feel isolated, angry at their partners and themselves, and/or concerned about the physical and emotional damage the abortion might cause their partner. According to the law, men have few rights to protect their offspring, and this for some is cause of anger. Propaganda that talks about abortion being “a woman’s choice” effectively excludes men from the decision-making, and many men isolated from the decision feel emasculated and powerless, especially if they are opposed to the abortion8. Some men do offer and seek to provide both financial and emotional support to their partner/wife and child, but she may have a low attachment to the unborn child, and has possibly placed other considerations ahead of having a family or another child at this time. This can be hurtful for a man and very difficult to deal with.

Many factors influence how a man will respond to an abortion, e.g. his background, values and beliefs, the part he has played in the decision and the actual process, or current situation and ambitions. Thoughts and feelings before or after an abortion depend on whether or not he allows himself to get in touch with his feelings surrounding the pregnancy and abortion, and realizes what the abortion means in real terms. This realization may not happen until later in life, when his situation and circumstances change, for example, to include a family. 

Men can be affected by abortion in similar ways as women, and many have reported post-abortion problems such as:

  • feelings of grief and helplessness
  • feelings of guilt and shame
  • depression
  • sexual dysfunction
  • substance abuse
  • self-hatred
  • self-esteem and confidence problems
  • fear of relationships
  • increased risk taking and suicidal behaviour
  • greater tendencies to becoming angry or violent
  • a sense of lost manhood9

Click here for additional common effects of abortion on men

It must be understood that talking about abortion is an even greater taboo for men than for women. If a man wants to shed a tear, he had better do it privately. If he feels that the abortion had denied him his child, he had better work it through himself10. Typical male grief includes remaining silent and grieving alone. In the silence, a man can harbor guilt and doubts about his ability to protect himself and those he loves. Some become depressed and or anxious, whereas others become controlling, demanding and directing. Still others become enraged and failure in any relationship can trigger hostility from their disenfranchised grief. A guilt-ridden, tormented man does not easily love or accept love11.

If you are hurting because of an abortion, we can help.
469-720-2273 (CARE) or or visit projectjosephdallas.org

Above information from www.postabortionpaths.org.nzReferences:


Aborted Women: Silent No More, David Reardon, Loyola University Press, Chicago, 1987
2. A Study of Abortion in Primitive Societies, George Devereux, The Julian Press, New York, 1955,
3. The Effects of Abortion on Marriage and Other Committed Relationships, Teri Reisser, Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change, 6(4):1-8, 1994
4. Restoring Fatherhood Lost, Warren Williams, Post Abortion Review, Vol 4, No.4, Fall 1996
5. Expectant Fathers, Sam Bittman & Sue Rosenberg Zalk, New York:Ballantine Books, 1978, 1980
6. Sixty Battered Women, Elaine Hilberman, Victimology 2:460, 1977-78
7. Husbands of Abortions Applicants: A Comparison With Husbands of Women Who Complete Their Pregnancies, F Lieh-Mak, Social Psychiatry, 14:59, 1979
8. Men and Abortion, Losses and Love, Shostak, Arthur, Praeger 1984
9. Men and Abortion - A Path to Healing by C.T. Coyle, Ph.D. Life Cycle Books, Canada 1999
10. Portraits of Post-Abortive Fathers, Devastated by the Abortion Experience, Strahan, Thomas, Assoc. for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change, 7(3), Nov/Dec 1994 
11. The Effects of Abortion on Men, Rue, Vincent, Ethics and Medics 21(4):3-4, 1996
12. Psychosocial and Emotional Consequences of Elective Abortion: A Literature Review, in Paul Sachdev, ed., Abortion: Readings and Research, Toronto: Butterworth, 1981, p65-75
13. The Abortion Choice: Psychological Determinants and Consequences, God, et al., 1984,
14. Identifying High Risk Abortion Patients, Post Abortion Review Vol 1, No 3, 1993



“Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward. . . . There is hope for your future.” — Jeremiah 31:16-17