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When Daddy's Dream Died, Daddy Died Too.
Men and Abortion
January 22, 2003 marked the 30th anniversary of the US Supreme Court's decision to legalize abortion for any reason throughout the nine months of pregnancy. According to the abortion industry's own statistics, since that time, over 42 million babies have been sacrificed on the altar of "choice". Nearly half (48%) of all the women who abort, are having more than one. It is not that unusual to talk to young women who have had four or more abortions. This means that a significant percentage of the childbearing population in America is using abortion as a means of birth control.
With each passing year, the abortion industry adds to the growing mountain of tiny corpses, leaving in its wake, physical and emotional devastation. Stop for a moment to consider an often-surprising segment of society that has been victimized by abortion.
Brad Draper was very excited about his girlfriend's pregnancy. He had seen ultra sound images of his son and was looking forward to fatherhood, until the mother aborted the baby without telling him.
Devastated, Brad honored Zachary by placing the above obituary in the paper and holding a memorial service. September 10, 2002, Zachary's due date, was more than he could endure. Brad went to the parking lot of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic and shot himself in the head. He died later that night at a hospital.
There has been precious little research done to document post-abortion stress in the fathers of aborted babies. The most comprehensive study to date involved 1,000 men who completed questionnaires in 30 different abortion clinics as they waited for their partner's abortion, after which, follow up occurred. The result showed that eight percent or more have been deeply traumatized by the abortion.
That means we
may have more than 3.2 million walking wounded, men who are struggling with very
serious emotional baggage. Further, this may only be the tip of the iceberg
because there are an untold number who are suffering significantly, but to a
When an abortion takes place, these crucial, God-given instincts are often damaged or totally obliterated. This is typically the reason that we see the onset of symptoms of post-abortion stress. They say that the conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good. The conscience, in a significant number of fathers who lose a child to abortion, kicks into overtime and wreaks emotional havoc.
In May 1996, a young man from Minneapolis was dating a woman with an 18-month-old daughter from a previous relationship. She became pregnant and he was elated. Tragically, without his knowledge or consent, she aborted their baby. Furious, he went to her house where an argument ensued and escalated. He pulled out a gun and said that because she killed his baby, he was going to kill hers. He then shot and killed the woman's daughter in front of the mother. Then, in another act of cruelty, he took his own life. He allowed the mother to live to grieve the loss of her two children - one born and one unborn.
Anger is one symptom that I believe is present in every father who experiences abortion. Further, this anger will cause a man to act negatively toward himself or someone around him, possibly an innocent bystander.
Early pioneers of counseling fathers with post-abortion stress have coined the term "hooking". A man may see, hear, smell or otherwise experiences something that triggers a memory of the abortion. This memory is then often translated into anger, which is usually directed at the nearest person, place or thing. This can be experienced subconsciously, leaving both the perpetrator and victim in the dark as to why this negative reaction has occurred.
In addition to anger, a man might experience grief, shame, guilt and remorse. Insomnia may be a constant companion, as well as an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. He may exhibit poor coping skills or an inability to make decisions. His very core, the ability to provide and protect, has been seriously shaken. As a result, he may have little trust or faith in his other abilities.
Most relationships fail after an abortion, and future relationships are often difficult or impossible. Trust dies - soon after the unborn baby - causing many men to be apprehensive about making themselves vulnerable to another pregnancy with no control of the outcome. Some men develop sexual dysfunctions. He may turn to pornography and sexual self-gratification, which provide physical satisfaction, free of the risk of commitment and pregnancy.
Alcohol and drug abuse are common tools to dull the pain. His low self-esteem may result in promiscuity or being a risk-taker - setting himself up for defeat and getting what he feels he deserves when he fails. He may become a workaholic to either avoid people and protect his closely held secret, or to desperately succeed in an important area of his life, countering his failure of protecting his offspring. Other symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares or self-imposed isolation. Thoughts of suicide are not uncommon.
Generally, it is more difficult for a man than a woman to express his emotional feelings. If a man does not talk or grieve after the abortion, it will be more difficult for him to express his feelings later on. Once he builds a thick wall of secrecy and denial around him, it is harder to reach him emotionally.
Society provides little incentive for a man to grieve the loss of a child to abortion. First, mothers of aborted babies are afforded little sympathy from the professional psychological community. How much more will they refuse to acknowledge post-abortion stress in men? Secondly, society often implies that it is less than manly to cry or show emotions. Therefore, it is very difficult for a hurting man to grieve when there is a built-in bias against doing so.
Most often it is best to have a man counsel a post-abortive father. He needs a safe and minimally gender-neutral environment in which to become vulnerable. He needs to know that he will not be judged or condemned and that everything he shares will be held in the strictest of confidence. Allow him to grieve his loss and shame. Let him cry as much as he needs to. The grief is as real as that caused by the death of a two-year-old toddler. This was his child and, in his heart, he instinctively knows it.
Mark Twain said, "Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." This is truly poignant for post-abortive parents. A crucial aspect of post-abortion counseling is the realization of divine forgiveness. This paves the way for forgiving others and - sometimes the hardest step of all - himself. Several good Bible-based counseling guides are available and should be used.
Not long ago, a man in Southern California seemed to have intentionally barreled his car through the fence surrounding the playground of a daycare center. Among the chaos, he calmly sat behind the wheel of his Buick while children lay trapped underneath, bleeding and dying. Has a past abortion tormented him to the extent of irrationally acting out his anguish? Sadly, abortion most likely will not be considered as a possible mitigating factor. How many acts of violence, great and small, are in reality connected to a past abortion decision?
The grim fact is that fathers of aborted babies are all around us. Many suffer in silence as they struggle to get through each day. They sit uncomfortably in the pews of churches. They are in your church. You and I must reach out to these hurting fathers in love and let them know that, through Christ, there is hope and healing.
Bradley Mattes is a 27- year veteran of the pro-life movement. He is the Executive Director of Life Issues Institute, an international source of pro-life materials and information. Brad counsels and provides a referral system for post-abortive men, and has written and lectured internationally on this topic.
Men and Abortion, by C. T. Coyle, Ph.D. available through Life Cycle Books, www.lifecyclebooks.com
Men Hurt Too, brochure by Bradley Mattes, available through Hayes Publishing, http://hayespub.tripod.com