Abortion’s Devastating Impact on Men

May 11, 2023

A new study about the effect of abortion on men in America finds 71 percent of men suffered “adverse changes” to their mental health after losing a child to an abortion. The study elaborated stating that one out of every seven American men suffering abortion loss experience depression, anxiety, regret, grief, anger, and more. However, these men have difficulty expressing or even acknowledging their emotions due to societal pressure to remain silent indicating they “do not have the right to grieve,” leaving these men to feel their grief is “disenfranchised.” 

The study, “Abortion's Long-Term Negative Impact On Men,” was commissioned by the nonprofit Support After Abortion (SAA), and was conducted by Shepard Research, a Oklahoma-based market research firm. The researchers conducted surveys with 1000 men across the United States and found that 100 (10 percent) of those men had a personal experience with abortion, and 71 of them experienced adverse effects. Out of the 71 men with “adverse changes,” 83 percent “either sought after abortion help or said they could have benefited from talking to someone.” 

While slightly more than half of those surveyed indicated they were “pro-choice,” 31 percent of “pro-choice” men were negatively affected by an abortion. Regardless of whether one was “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” 57 percent (almost three out of five men) said the abortion “wasn’t their decision,” but rather it was the woman’s or someone else’s.  In fact, 45 percent of the men said “they did not have a voice or choice” in the matter.

Greg Mayo, the study’s author and chair of the SAA’s National Men’s Task Force, which is focused on helping men heal after abortion, has personally experienced this tragedy twice.   

Mayo stated, “I had no say in either decision. At that time few people were talking about abortion healing…especially for men. The decades that followed, until I found healing in 2009, were mired and muddled by the fallout of lost fatherhood.” Mayo also explained that a therapist told him his pain from the abortions probably “wasn’t a thing” and his feelings were rather something from his family history. Mayo credits those remarks for delaying his healing by 15 years. 

“So I waded through life like many men – fighting upstream to move forward in spite of the weight around my ankles. There simply wasn’t an area of my life that was untouched by my loss: work, education, relationships, including eventually my marriage and the children I raised. I also engaged in cliff diving and bungee jumping, which for some are simply thrills, but for me were motivated by risking my life,” stated Mayo. 

For a man, the loss of an unborn child means the loss of fatherhood. Whether the man approved of the abortion or defended the child’s life at the time or not, the loss can invoke similar intense grief as in men who experience their partner’s miscarriage. When this grief is left unmanaged, it can manifest in many ways for years and even decades after the loss. In a 2015 study about the effect of elective abortions on men, post-abortion researchers Dr. Catherine Coyle and Dr. Vincent Rue cited one of the study’s participants who said 28 years after his abortion experience, “I can’t describe the emptiness of the fatherhood lost. The loss of honor and self-respect in skirting my responsibility to be a father, not to mention the taking of my own child’s life, is a very heavy burden indeed.” 

Bradley Mattes, a pro-life educator and president of Life Issues Institute, explained that at the core of masculinity lies a man’s desire to “procreate, provide and protect,” and abortion has a direct, traumatizing effect on a man’s core. Dr. Rue also stated, “A father is a father forever, even of a dead unborn child. In the aftermath of abortion, the real choice for men is whether to accept this biological reality, grieve the loss and seek forgiveness, or to continue denying what is inwardly known and swell the ranks of the hollowed men.” 

However, American society seems to ignore the significance of men regarding the issue of abortion. According to research by Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Americans somewhat agree that “the decision about whether to have an abortion should belong solely to the pregnant woman.” The U.S. Supreme Court has significantly contributed to this view over the years. After it legalized abortion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, a ruling now overturned in 2022, the High Court in Planned Parenthood of Missouri v. Danforth (1976) trumped a man’s desire to procreate and protect life in favor of a woman’s desire not to give birth. SCOTUS ruled that requiring a husband’s consent to an abortion was unconstitutional. The ruling effectively made a man’s voice legally irrelevant when it comes to his unborn baby’s life. This may help shed some light on the SAA’s findings in a separate study on the negative impact of abortion on women, where “only 20% of women said their partner impacted the decision [to get an abortion].” 

Mayo said, “The narrative for over 50 years now has been: ‘Men need to be quiet and stay out of it.’” In the SAA study, Mayo noted, “Men’s grief is often disenfranchised. Their grief, a natural response to loss, is often invalidated. Men perceive that their thoughts and feelings are dismissed or not valued, and many remain silently in pain.” 

Mayo wrote that 82 percent of men surveyed in the study did not know where to go for help after the abortion, and 32 percent didn’t seek help at all. He noted that after he had started into abortion recovery and discussing it in men’s groups, he realized the need in America for men to talk about the effect of abortion on them. 

“[There’s] a really, really big need in this country to get men out of the darkness…to get them talking about their abortion experience and then to help them find healing,” said Mayo. 

“Just talking about men’s abortions and knowing I’m not the only one and that there is hope for healing is priceless,” a man in abortion recovery stated during the study. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “While abortion harms women physically and emotionally, and ends the life of defenseless children, it also harms men in incalculable ways. At the core of a man’s heart is the call to protect one’s family and to fight to preserve life when necessary. But abortion has morally, socially, and spiritually eroded our culture putting masculinity under attack. These findings reveal how abortion breaks the hearts of men and confirms how our society largely ignores their circumstances. Any society that favors abortion undermines its own men. Thankfully, there is healing and restoration available so men harmed by abortion can stand and be the protectors our children and families need.” 

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