Several years ago, I lost an unborn child to an abortion I did not want. I tried to persuade my then girlfriend to keep the baby but her mind was made up. The pain I felt was compounded by my inability to stop it.
All too often, abortion is framed as a ‘women’s issue’ even though men are equally responsible for creating life and are affected by its loss. Men get factored out of the equation altogether, even by other men. For example, Greg Orman, an independent running for Senate in Kansas, argues that, “as a man, there are some choices I will never have to make” and takes a pro-choice position on what he calls “reproductive health.” Such a narrow view misses the fact that men are affected by abortion and leaves many men suffering in silence, ashamed of their loss or afraid of what others will say.
Views like those held by Mr Orman can only be changed when the general public sees the humanity of men who mourn the loss of an unborn child. By sharing their stories, men show the real pain they feel and how abortion has affected them. The public will see that abortion is a life-changing decision that affects real men as well as real women. This makes the views of men on this issue harder to dismiss and easier to accept. It also changes the framing of abortion from a “women’s issue” to a “family issue.”
The increasing shift from “abortion” to “reproductive rights” by pro-choice supporters creates an opportunity to do just that. Given that two people are involved in reproduction, men and women both have a say on the issue. This is clearly evident when we turn the argument of choice on its head: If women alone can make the choice to end a pregnancy, then they alone make the choice to continue it. It follows that women alone would accept the consequences of having a child since they alone made that choice, which means that men should be able to opt out of parental responsibilities. Such an argument naturally sparks discussion, but it reinforces the joint responsibility of parenthood and the inconsistency of the pro-choice position.
If more men respectfully share their stories with their family and friends, as well as with the media, there will be greater public awareness that, with strong arguments, can help win hearts and minds across the political spectrum. As I learned when my story was published online by The Telegraph, a leading newspaper in England, there are ears willing to hear. When more men share their stories, their voices grow louder and more people will understand their loss and pain.
There will of course be critics, but hearing their views helps strengthen our own arguments. Such criticism can’t be taken personally. Having shared my story, I feel a sense of peace I had not known for a long time. I live in hope that the child I lost will have some kind of impact in a world he or she never got a chance to see. As more men share their experiences, the voices of more children can be heard and pain of loss can be eased with hope.