Another victim of abortion
By Anne Reed
It is a simple fact that conception of a child requires the equal biological participation of a female and a male counterpart – mother and father. The baby is obviously the first victim in abortion. Moreover, the pro-life community has leaned toward spotlighting the mother as a victim – and rightly so. But often down-played or even ignored is the fact that the baby’s father is also a victim of the lies of a culture that advocates abortion.
The Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973 violently opened the door for widespread legalized abortion in the U.S. The court focused on the woman’s right to privacy while the personhood of the child in the womb was disregarded. So were the rights of the father.
In the immediate years following this decision, 12 states adopted laws protecting the rights of some men by requiring the husband’s consent before his wife could follow through with an abortion. Unfortunately, in 1976, the Supreme Court evaluated those state laws, and declared them inconsistent with the basis and decision of Roe v Wade and, therefore, unconstitutional.
Confusion and research
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 often 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.
Catherine Coyle, Ph.D., has done extensive research on the subject of men who have been harmed by abortion. In her book Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing, published in 1999, a man called Dan recounts the inner turmoil he experienced in accompanying his future wife during an abortion (excerpt above). Helplessness and confusion were two common themes expressed by men interviewed in Coyle’s research.
State laws related to abortion disregard the father, thereby communicating that the father has no final influence or authority. He is, therefore, denied the paternal instinct that motivates him to care for his family. One post-abortive father who now counsels post-abortive men wrote, “As I reflect on God’s purpose and role for men found in the Word, I see that because of my choice of participating in this offensive sin of killing my unborn child, I quit life. I taught myself to shortcut life in all decisions in the future (husband decisions, father decisions, job decisions, etc.).”
What makes things worse is that men are more likely than women to go forward in denial about negative emotions profoundly affecting their lives. Vincent Rue, Ph.D., a forerunner in researching the effects of abortion on men, wrote, “Men do grieve following abortion, but they are more likely to deny their grief or internalize their feelings of loss rather than openly express them. … When men do express their grief, they try to do so in culturally prescribed ‘masculine’ ways, i.e. anger, aggressiveness, control.”
Post-abortive men are likely to experience tendencies toward angry and violent behavior as well as an overall sense of lost manhood. Common consequences include broken relationships; sexual dysfunction; substance abuse; self-hatred; ever-increasing feelings of grief, guilt and depression; and dangerous or even suicidal behavior.
Confession and repentance
King David describes the body’s reaction to secret sin: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). John’s first epistle stressed the importance of confession: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). James 5:16 takes confession even farther: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
One has to wonder what would happen if widespread confession of this sin swept across the nation. What would happen if mighty warriors, expressing strength through weakness, stepped into the front lines creating a massive wave of confession and repentance? How would marriages be affected in the here and now? How would this culture be affected as a whole? Would the hearts of the fathers be turned back to the children?
What if, rather than hiding the truth of past and present sexual impurity, confession and repentance became an igniting fire in our churches? What about those men living inside a fortress of unforgiveness? How many hearts are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, self-justification and resentment? Shame, guilt and blame can be so deep-rooted that these wounded warriors more often than not need fellow soldiers and armor bearers to come alongside them in battle.
Perhaps the real question is, “What would happen if men fought back?” Not with weapons of the flesh, but as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
For a post-abortive father, these steps can light the way out of darkness and despair:
1) Acknowledge your responsibility.
2) Confess to God and at least one other person you can trust.
3) Seek out and use available resources for post-abortion men.
A man struggling with any sin is inclined to keep it secret. However, biblical wisdom tells him not to give in to fear, pride and shame. Forgiveness and healing are attainable. Be a warrior; go after the victory.
An expanded version of this article appears in Patricia K. Layton’s new book Finding Freedom: Healing and Hope After Abortion. It is available at www.surrenderingthesecret.com