Abortion is primarily viewed as a women’s issue with very few considering the effects of abortion on men. Given the current abortion statistics (over 60 million since 1973) millions of men have been involved in some way in an abortion decision and procedure. Though it was a woman who carried the child and actually experienced the procedure, post abortion healing is needed for both the mothers and the fathers who have lost a child to abortion. The reality is that many men experience psychological and spiritual distress from the impact of an abortion. This is especially true of men who felt powerless to stop an unwanted abortion or were involved in the decision to abort. Many men experience symptoms of complicated grief, shame, trauma, relationship instability, depression, anxiety, and other emotional and psychological issues…often in isolation.
It is time to be silent no more. It is time to heal. Time to heal the guilt, the shame, the despair, the anger, the depression, the helplessness, and all the many debilitating emotions that many men feel from their participation in an abortion. They are silenced by the belief that they’re alone, and they go through life as the silent wounded.
These hurting fathers must be reassured that their feelings and experiences are not abnormal, but are in response to a significant loss in their life. Both men and women may choose to avoid dealing with painful emotions, but men tend to deny or repress their emotions more so than women. Some men may have submerged their own feelings from shame and/or guilt because they had coerced their partner into the decision to abort or may have suppressed their feelings by taking refuge in the idea that their main role was to support their partners’ decision. If the relationship with their partner continues after the abortion, some men may try to protect their partner by avoiding any expression of their painful, negative emotions because they are genuinely concerned about supporting their partners. They may believe that expressing their own emotions would cause their partners to become upset. So in an effort to be supportive some men may sabotage their own spiritual and emotional health.
Regardless of the reasons, the repression of negative emotions may feel better in the short term but will only result in problems and complications over the long term (depression, inappropriate anger, stress and anxiety, etc.). Painful and/or negative emotions that are not acknowledged and worked through will find a way to surface that may be as painful or disturbing as the original feelings. Often when we least expect it.
Anger that is not expressed constructively is likely to be expressed destructively, sometimes in future relationships. If feelings of helplessness are not dealt with, the post-abortive man may experience a lack of self-confidence and/or lack of self-esteem that can impact any or all areas of his life. Unresolved grief can lead to fear and anxiety, which can have a negative effect in any and all areas of a man’s life. Unresolved guilt or shame can lead to self-destructive behavior in a man, often via abuse or addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. The risks of choosing to avoid emotional and psychological pain can, and usually does, exact a high price on a person’s spiritual, psychological and physical well-being.
Fortunately, we have a God who is merciful. The Lord extends His love, mercy and forgiveness to all who have participated in abortion and provides through His Church to those seeking reconciliation and forgiveness. Additionally, post-abortive men who continue to suffer, should seek, and be encouraged to seek, professional help so they can work through the many negative and debilitating emotional pitfalls. This can be done with the help of professional counselors who understand the dynamics of the experiences of post-abortive men. If you are a post-abortive man who experiences any of these symptoms discussed above, please see a priest first. Then, if necessary, seek the help of an experienced, empathetic professional Catholic therapist for counseling.
May the healing balm of our merciful God be with you all.
- Healing the Hearts of Fathers - June 2, 2021
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