Men and Abortion: Reclaiming Fatherhood

Catherine Coyle“Men and Abortion: Reclaiming Fatherhood” was the title of the first international conference to focus on the effects of abortion on men. The conference was held on November 28-29, 2007, in San Francisco, California, and was organized by Vicki Thorn, director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, and co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the archdiocese of San Francisco.

The nearly 200 attendees came from seven countries and 28 states and included professional and volunteer counselors, members of the clergy, and men who have personally experienced abortion. Speakers covered a wide variety of topics including:

Andrezj Winkler, MA
Wounded Fathers: Why Do They Come for Help?

Greg Hasek, MA/MFT LPC
Medicating the Pain of Lost Fatherhood

Rev. Martin Pable, OFMCap
Spiritual Aspects of Healing for Post-Abortion Fathers

Warren Williams, MA
The Sociology of Fatherhood

Tom Golden, LCSW (
The Masculine Side of Healing

Vincent M. Rue, PhD (
Men and Abortion: A Review of the Research
Trauma and Abortion: When Men Hollow

Catherine T. Coyle, RN, PhD (
Men and Abortion: A Review of the Research
Forgiveness Therapy with Post-Abortion Men

Fathers sharing personal stories of abortion: Jason Baier, Mark Morrow, Craig Jennings, Chris Aubert

The speakers provided information concerning a much neglected group in our society, that is, men who have lost children by elective abortion and have suffered as a result. While there is little research by which to definitively characterize the effects of abortion on men, evidence presented made it clear that post-abortion men may experience intense grief, anxiety, helplessness, anger, guilt, and confusion about what it means to be a man.

In addition to the loss of his child, abortion may result in the loss of a man’s relationship with his partner and a loss of faith in himself. These accumulated losses can contribute to both interpersonal and sexual difficulties in his relationships. Some men may engage in self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse or other risk-taking activities in an effort to smother their emotional pain.

The most powerful and persuasive speakers were, without a doubt, the four men who shared their personal experiences with abortion. Their stories were heartbreaking, inspiring, and challenging. These men are to be admired for their courage and willingness to be vulnerable for the sake of truth.

Ultimately it will be through such personal accounts that awareness will be raised and hearts will be healed. As other men come to view their grief as valid, they may be encouraged to seek counseling and/or to disclose their own stories. One by one, these men can and will change our culture.

May this historic conference be the first of many. Hopefully it will inspire further research concerning how abortion impacts men, a greater inclusion of men in the ministries of crisis pregnancy centers, and an increased appreciation men’s post-abortion grief.

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