Do you remember the old pro-life slogan, "When they say abortion is between a woman and a doctor, they're forgetting someone?" It was often written on posters that showed an unborn baby in utero, and was a simple reminder that it's not the woman's body that's going to be ripped apart, destroyed, killed in an abortion.
One thing I've been thinking about lately, though, is that the posters might have mentioned two someones being forgotten when a woman has an abortion: the baby, of course, but also the baby's father.
Googling things about abortion and men will bring up sites like this one which mentions some ways that abortion hurts men, or this one which contains the text of an article about the emotional toll that abortion can have on a man. There are websites wading into the issue of post-abortive men and the sort of help they might need. So far, there don't appear to be many resources for men who have suffered the pain of the abortion of their child, though.
And there is pain.
Think of it: it is perfectly legal for any woman, married or not, to kill a child without even consulting the child's father. The father has no rights to stop an abortion from happening, even though the law insists that he must pay child support if the woman chooses not to kill the child. Despite the fact that the child is as much his as it is hers, she may kill the baby, and he can't do anything about it.
Sometimes, though, men are caught up in the abortion mentality as much as women are. They consider the pregnancy a "problem" and an abortion the "solution." Only years later does the buried trauma of having participated in the decision to kill their own child resurface, and sometimes when it does marriages fail, relationships shatter, and men who seemed to have it all together fall completely apart.
I think that pro-life organizations need to target men, perhaps to a greater degree than has been done so far. So many times when I read the heartbreaking stories of women in crisis pregnancies who aborted, only to regret it and suffer terribly later, this motif recurs: I wanted our baby. I thought he would want our baby, too. But he wanted me to have an abortion, and threatened to leave me if I didn't have one.
The men who make such threats are sometimes truly dysfunctional and even abusive people. But often they are just as terrified and confused and unsure as the women. They are afraid of commitment, afraid of the future, afraid of what people will think. Abortion seems easy; fatherhood seems mind-bogglingly difficult. And if they're caught up in the irresponsible lifestyle of sex without consequences, the hardest thing, I think, for many men to face in this situation would be the notion that all of that would be about to change forever.
So pro-life men need to give strong witness, about duty and obligation and sacrifice, about love and responsibility, about the rich blessings and joys of commitment and fatherhood, and how the shallow easy life of irresponsible sex and meaningless physical contact is an illusion created in Hell and marketed on Madison Avenue. They need to remind their younger brothers that being a man means taking responsibility for one's actions; only a weak and immature boy runs from his problems, hides, and chants "Make it go away!" until something amusing and distracting comes on TV or pops up on YouTube. If they haven't been living according to the dictates of chastity, and if they have participated in the creation of a new human life, then it's up to them to welcome that life and do whatever it takes to make sure that child will not suffer for his or her father's bad choices.
By making abortion a "women's issue," we're playing right into the notion that fatherhood is irrelevant and that men should be free to have sex without consequences for as long as they want to--if pregnancy occurs, the woman can "deal with it." Abortion is not just a woman's issue, though, and every one of those nearly fifty million dead American babies has left behind a father. And considering the pain a post-abortive man may suffer, many of those fathers have learned in grief and sorrow that there were consequences, after all.