Just a Women’s Issue?
There is no topic as heated, controversial, and emotional in America today as abortion. It seems everyone has an opinion on it, and expressing those opinions is likely to start a lively, impassioned debate.
In many cases, though, we don’t talk about it. Abortion has entered the cultural realm of “religion” and “politics”—subjects we don’t talk about in the company of family, coworkers, and strangers. It’s too awkward, too personal, too heavy, and will likely invite conflict we want to avoid.
I’ve tested the premise that people don’t like to talk about abortion, and the anecdotal results are sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, sometimes frustrating.
The conversation may go like this: “So, Brian, what do you do for a living?” “I work to rescue mothers, fathers, and babies from abortion.”
Once in awhile, someone will respond with great enthusiasm, anxious to hear about that work.
Too often, the person will look aside. I have learned what that means. They are post-abortive and have just been reminded of it. Sometimes they will tell me their story, but most of the time they quickly change the conversation. I suspect most post-abortive people expect me to be judgmental and think ill of them. That’s not the case, as I have too often seen the intense pain and shame abortion brings. Abortion creates all sorts of victims.
Sometimes a person will immediately change the subject and go to great lengths to make sure we don’t come back around to that subject. That generally means someone is highly in favor of abortion and doesn’t want to get into a discussion
It is rare that someone actually engages in a conversation about abortion in America. Abortion has now been relegated to the dustbin of topics we shouldn’t talk about.
Yet abortion has saturated our culture and pervades just about every area of our lives. Statistics suggest every family in America has been touched by abortion in some way or other.
ABORTION IMPACTS EVERYONE
Consider just a few brief facts:
Abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S.
It is the leading cause of death (heart disease kills 600,000 annually while 1.2 million pre-born children die each year from abortion).12
Over 55 million Americans have lost their lives to abortion since 1973.
3 in ten women in America are post-abortive by the time they are 45.13 This implies that around 30 percent of men are also post-abortive. (Post-abortive means, if you are a woman, you’ve had an abortion. If you are a man, you are the father of an aborted child.)
Abortion is an enormous industry, generating more than $800 million14 each year for abortion doctors, facilities, and providers. Black market industries exist around the business of abortion.15
Virtually every major city in America has at least one abortion clinic. Most large cities have several.
Pharmaceutical abortions (abortion using a pill such as RU-486) continue to rise in popularity.
There are hundreds of nonprofit organizations attempting to reduce or eliminate abortion, and there are numerous such organizations promoting it. There is no shortage of ink spilled over the abortion issue online, in magazines, and in the papers. It is a constant topic on TV, whether in our pop culture (16 and Pregnant) or in the news.
Our political candidates declare a formal position on the topic before every election.
Over the past 40 years, abortion has become part of our families, part of our communities, and part of our culture.
If abortion is so pervasive and common, can it really just be a woman’s issue?
The mainstream media and pro-abortion organizations continue to assert as much. Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade by stating, “That’s 40 years of protecting every woman’s fundamental right to make her own personal medical decisions.”
Since Roe v. Wade effectively supports that assertion, it’s no surprise that many men and women fully support it, especially in politics and entertainment:
“I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right…. [W]e must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.” –President Barack Obama16
“Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard.” –Hillary Clinton17
“Reproductive choice is a fundamental human right and we can never take it for granted. On this issue, you’re either with us or against us.” –New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg18
“The people who say that we shouldn’t have the right to choose, that the government should interfere with our womb, are not people who believe in helping mothers who are poor or psychologically or emotionally unfit or unable to have children….” –Jane Fonda19
“Can small-minded idiot blokes stop telling women whether or not they’re entitled to abortions please?” –Lily Allen20
“We are deeply disturbed by…the growing movement to limit women’s reproductive rights. And as Mother’s Day approaches, we join Planned Parenthood in their fight to protect women…across the country.”21
–Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner
“I support the Supreme Court decision that says an abortion is a woman’s decision, very difficult decision, to be made privately in conjunction with her religious beliefs, her doctor, her responsibility to her family—and the government is completely inappropriate in that decision.” –Susan Sarandon22
ABORTION IMPACTS MEN
But is abortion really just about females? Is it just about their bodies, their choices, and their rights? Or is there something else going on beneath the surface?
Obviously, the act of abortion impacts both genders. Both males and females lose their lives in the womb.
Though there are numerous arguments about when an unborn child is a person or should have rights, there is no longer any rational disagreement about when human life begins. Human life begins at conception. A unique, completely distinct human being is wonderfully created at conception. She has all of the genetic material she needs to continue to mature through the phases of pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
The purpose of this book is not to argue the topic of “personhood” (which is dealt with fairly by Robert George and Christopher Tollefsen in their book, Embryo: A Defense
of Human Life). The process of assigning value to a human
life at some point beyond conception is subjective and
variable. Science has proven that life begins at conception—and that life is a member of the species Homo sapiens, a
Thus abortion is, by definition, the willful termination of a human life. Very few abortion proponents today argue otherwise—mainly because the facts of life are conclusive.
So it stands to reason that around half of the 55 million babies aborted in America over the last 40 years were male. Abortion most certainly impacts the male gender.
Ironically, though males are aborted, the procedure disproportionately culls unborn females through sex-selection abortions. Some 200 million girls worldwide are missing23 due to this practice, which takes place even in the U.S.24
However, not every human being who is aborted dies. There are numerous cases of “abortion survivors,” human beings who were aborted, didn’t die, and were then born. Many of those survivors are male.
Take Josiah Presley, for instance. Josiah was aborted by his mother in South Korea but survived. He was eventually adopted by parents in the U.S. and is a perfectly normal young man (save his left arm, which was presumably damaged in the abortion attempt).
Other men are alive today because their mothers, though encouraged to abort, chose, instead, to carry their babies. Singer, entertainer, and TV personality Nick Cannon and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow are both examples of grown men saved from potential death in the womb by their own mothers.
Other men were saved from abortion even though their mothers were raped. Activist and media expert Ryan
Bomberger is alive today because his mother, who was raped, chose to carry Ryan and place him for adoption.
All of these men have strong opinions about abortion, and their existence proves men have been profoundly influenced by it.
Should these men be silenced because of the impact abortion has had on them personally? Should men be silent when tens of millions of male humans have perished in the womb?
MARS AND VENUS ACTUALLY AGREE
Much is made in the media about abortion as a dividing line between men and women. But the so-called “gender gap” on abortion—based on the idea that this is a women’s issue—doesn’t exist. Men and women think alike on abortion.
A recent Pew Poll found “no gender gap in opinions about
Roe v. Wade: Nearly identical percentages of women (64 percent) and men (63 percent) oppose reversing the decision.”25
The real split over abortion falls along religious lines. Fifty percent of people who attend religious services at least weekly want Roe overturned, while just 17 percent of those who attend worship less than weekly favor Roe’s reversal.
“YOU CAN SPEAK YOUR MIND … AS LONG AS
Men are welcomed to take a position favoring abortion. They are even welcomed to take a neutral, passive stance. But they are not welcomed to take a public stance for life. If they do, they are derided and accused of being anti-woman, anti-reproductive rights, and traditionalist. Sometimes just being a man makes you suspect to pro-abortion feminists, which is why attorney and activist Florynce Kennedy once cracked, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”
The educational organization I work for, Online for Life, recently released an iPhone app that allows people to pray for families considering abortion. One woman reviewed the app and wrote, “I have aborted several babies from my uterus. When did they (men at Online for Life) get vaginas? Oh wait. They didn’t. Good luck with this bologna.”
Another wrote, “Hey Brian, how completely self-righteous of you to proclaim you know what’s best for anyone but yourself. Especially in the cases of pregnant women, considering you’ll never experience pregnancy and don’t know their circumstances. This app is crazy town. Mind your
The point is this: because the abortion procedure is performed on a woman’s body, men have no right to opine or intrude.
What abortion defenders say, in effect, is “You can’t get pregnant, so leave the abortion issue to women,” as life-affirming debater Scott Klusendorf points out. He calls it the “I don’t like you” objection. The fact is, arguments don’t have genders. They’re either true or false, regardless of whether they are made by a man or a woman.
If, as some have argued, the qualification for addressing the abortion issue is the ability to bear children, then Roe itself is thrown into question, and all the men who legalized abortion and work in the abortion advocacy business ought to look for work elsewhere. Seven of the nine men on the Supreme Court voted for the legalization of abortion. Should their votes not have counted because they didn’t have uteruses? What about the numerous men who work for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and other pro-abortion organizations? Should their voices be counted?
In fact, they are heard. The only voices not allowed to speak are those of men who are not in favor of abortion. As Klusendorf points out, the argument ought to be restated, “No man can speak on abortion unless he agrees with us.”26
Prostate cancer kills thousands of men each year. Men care very much about prostate cancer, and they should have access to resources in order to be properly educated, so they can avoid getting it. Does that mean that women, who don’t have male organs, have no right to talk about prostate cancer? Or do both genders agree that prostate cancer kills men?
Facts are facts. A person’s gender does not change those facts or reduce one’s right to discuss them.
MEN AS VICTIMS
We are inclined to accept that women should be the only gender with an opinion, right, and authority to choose abortion. After all, they are the ones who experience pregnancy, the abortion itself, and its after effects.
Yet more and more evidence suggests that men are also victims of abortion.
Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist, says he has “listened to dozens of men express lingering, sometimes intense, pain over abortions that proceeded either without their consent, or without them having spoken up about their desires to bring their children to term and parent them.”27
Shawn Carney, the campaign director of 40 Days for Life, witnessed the anguish of a Korean man unable to prevent his wife from aborting their child. The man begrudgingly drove his wife to an abortion facility in Texas and waited in their parked car with their two young children while his wife went in for
her abortion. Carney observed all this while standing outside
the clinic fence. After a while, the man left his car and approached Carney with a gut-wrenching appeal. Carney writes:
… he was yelling over and over: “I love children! I love children! Please go get her!” I moved closer to the fence, and he explained to me that he didn’t want the abortion. “Please, go get her!” he screamed. “Can’t you do something? I love children!” He pointed desperately to his other two kids in the minivan. “I don’t want her abortion. Can’t you go in and do something?”
Carney was powerless to help—except to pray—and, ultimately, the man who had been begging Carney to act started to weep in his despair. Unable to stop the death of his own child, he released his grip on the bars of the fence separating the two men and “slid to the ground, his shoulders slumped and heaving.”28
Another post-abortive male, Phil McCombs, a journalist at The Washington Post, wrote a public confession, laced with guilt and regret, of the abortion of his child. “I feel like a murderer,” McCombs wrote, telling readers that he made sure he was out of town when his partner got the abortion. “I was not by her side to support her. I turned my face away. My behavior was in all respects craven, immoral.” The child, who he came to believe was a boy, “would have inconvenienced me. I’d had my fun. He didn’t fit into my plans.… His name, which is carved on my heart, was Thomas,” he wrote. “I still grieve for little Thomas. It is an ocean of grief.”29
My dear friend and co-worker, Jeff Bradford, knows the pain of abortion first hand:
I hid and suppressed the realization that the only reason our oldest daughter was not alive today was due to my own cowardice. I went to my wedding, pretending to be an upright, moral young man with my bride dressed all in white. She was beautiful, and we looked great on the outside. No one could see the brokenness we were both hiding so well. We had aborted our first child just a few months before.
For 15 years, I was too ashamed to tell anyone what I had done, except my best friend. My wife and I never talked about it, we did not grieve together, and we hid it deep in the recesses of our minds. Our marriage began to unravel, and through extensive counseling, we realized how much of our struggle had come down to the decision to end the life of our first child. We began to deal with our own shame and guilt. We realized the extent of the mental and emotional trauma it had caused. There were many levels—resentment, a lack of forgiveness, feelings of abandonment—all revealed as we dealt with the reality of this decision many years earlier.
Now, as a father of four beautiful children, and through God’s grace, my wife and I are healing and have been married 20 years. However, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t regret my decision. After all, any good father would jump in front of a train to save the life of his child. The life of our first daughter, Sara, should not have been any different.
Not every story has a sad ending, though some are more ironic than others.
While we often associate abortion with a single mother and a deadbeat father, abortion frequently impacts married couples who already have kids. While we may feel disdain for fathers who leave their pregnant partners to pursue the next woman, do we also feel disdain for married men who want to protect their own unborn children—but have no legal right to do so?
Do we think that a father who has provided a stable, secure home for his family should have no say in the welfare of his own unborn child?
The day after Christmas a woman, we’ll call her Sarah, telephoned a local, life-affirming center (a local, community-based organization designed to educate families about pregnancy and options other than abortion). She had already taken two home pregnancy tests—both positive. She had decided to abort her baby. After she had a few questions answered, the woman said she was going to call a few other clinics. The center asked permission to follow up with her in a few days, and she agreed.
Sarah called back the next day on her own, asking if she could come in for an ultrasound. She had called abortion clinics, discovered she couldn’t get an abortion appointment in her own city for a few weeks, and was preparing to go
out of state so she could get the procedure done sooner. Because she needed to verify the pregnancy with an ultrasound before the abortion, she agreed to come into the life-affirming center.
Sarah came in that day with her husband, Paul. While she was having her ultrasound, the staff spoke with him.
“I don’t want her to get the abortion. I don’t like abortion and don’t understand why she doesn’t want the child,” Paul said.
Sarah’s reasons were simple. The couple already had a little girl, and she didn’t want another baby. She was going to school to get her degree, and another child would make that education very difficult to attain. She wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready to be a new mom again.
The center gave her the ultrasound and talked to her about pregnancy, the child, and her options.
The couple left. Paul wanted to have the child; Sarah was now unsure if she wanted to abort.
Several days later, the center called Paul to follow up. Paul was overjoyed to report that Sarah had changed her mind, and they were going to carry and parent their child.
“I can’t thank you enough for talking to her,” he said. “I so appreciate your help.”
Here’s the twist: Paul is a policeman. His job is to protect people, even if it means putting himself in harm’s way. Yet he had no legal or cultural authority to protect his own unborn child, whom he desperately wanted to live.
The moment his child was born, Paul would have legal rights as a father to do everything possible to protect and provide for his child. And his job requires him to do that for complete strangers every day. Yet, though he wanted his own child to live, he was helpless to protect the baby while she was growing in her mother’s womb.
These are just a few examples of the devastating impact abortion has on men—both those who support women in their abortions and those forced to stand and watch while their girlfriends or wives abort their children against their will. The powerlessness imposed on men by the law goes against our very nature as protectors and defenders.
So is abortion just a women’s issue? Do the millions of males lost to abortion have a voice? Do post-abortive men, who now often suffer in silence, have a voice? Do those men who want to keep their children, but are powerless to stop abortions, have a voice?
Making men sit on the sidelines because it’s a “women’s issue” conveniently assumes, but does not prove, that the
unborn are not members of the human race with the same dignity and right to live as the rest of us. If that unstated assumption is exposed and answered by the facts of science, we’re left with a discussion about whether it’s right or wrong to kill innocent, helpless, vulnerable humans—male and female—at early stages of their development. That’s a human rights debate—one in which women have no monopoly.
But, of course, abortion is legal, so why are we discussing this at all? After all, if the law says it’s okay, that means it is right and good. Right?