Pro-lifers have become familiar with the image of sad women displaying “I Regret My Abortion” signs. At the March for Life, they are given a privileged place at the pre-march rally on the Mall and a special station on the steps of the Supreme Court building, from which they tell their stories.
They are living witnesses to an important truth: The pro-life position is the pro-woman position.
At the 2009 March for Life, there was a new sign in evidence: “I Regret Lost Fatherhood.” The pro-life movement is increasingly reminding the world that men, too, suffer from abortion.
As Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, put it, there are “three victims of every abortion, the child and both of his or her parents.”
The Knights recently held two conferences to promote forgiveness and healing for men after abortion. There, therapists and other experts outlined the damage abortion does to men’s spirituality, mental health and confidence as future fathers. They also spoke on the reasons post-abortive men come for help — and explained why many who should don’t.
“I am a 31-year-old male who in 2003 had an abortion,” said one man on a site dedicated to healing after abortion. “I was hand in hand with my girlfriend at the time. To this day, I do not understand our reasoning — well, my reasoning — for killing my baby. Since that dreadful day, I have not and cannot stop thinking about what I — well, we — did.”
Faced with whether or not to keep their baby in the second trimester, they made the wrong decision, the man recalled.
“It took two days for the process, since she was 14 weeks pregnant. We went to Planned Parenthood, and to this day, I feel they did not help us at all. The first place we went to said they couldn’t do the procedure since she was so far along, and they said, basically, decide now what you want to do. Make an appointment for another office, but it has to be done today.”
The two got engaged, but his girlfriend broke off the engagement six months after the abortion, he said, “for no real reason.”
“I still have not gotten over the abortion,” he wrote. “To this day, it is and will always be the very worst decision I will ever make. I feel horrible that my baby is dead.
“I have to live with it for the rest of my life. I went through deep depression, suicidal thoughts, lost a job, and lost the women I loved. The grief I feel is just as strong as the day my baby was killed.”
Another man told this story:
“When my wife refused my suggestion that she have an abortion, I started to threaten her. I told her that I’d leave her if she didn’t have the abortion. The more she pleaded for the life of our baby, the more certain I became that this was the best solution. She would cry and carry on so much that I felt more and more certain she was unstable and couldn’t possibly be a good mother anyway.”
His story helps expose the lie of the “pro-choice” myth. Women don’t choose abortion in serenity. They are often backed into the decision by others. Not infrequently, the “pusher” is the man who fathered the child.
“After weeks of my emotional blackmail, she finally relented and gave in to my demands,” wrote the man. “I thought now our troubles were over. … But our troubles were only just beginning.”
In its 2007 Gonzalez v. Carhart decision, the Supreme Court recognizes Post-Abortion Syndrome. “Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child,” says the majority opinion of the court. “While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.”
Said the man in his testimonial:
“After the abortion, I watched my wife sink into a depression that lasted for years. Every day, she would cry and grieve for our baby. She was almost fired from a job for crying in the restroom at work. She was working at a medical laboratory where the local hospitals sent the ‘products of conception’ to be checked before disposal,” he wrote. “Part of my wife’s job consisted of visually checking the specimens arriving to the lab. Looking into those jars day after day and seeing tiny body parts — arms, legs, heads — was overwhelming. The grief from her own abortion was compounded every time she looked into the latest courier delivery. She became suicidal, believing that the only way to atone for the life of our baby was to take her own life.”
It was only through Christ that he found forgiveness. It is through the witness of men and women who had abortions that new hope is coming to those struggling with unexpected pregnancies.
Another man who had been picketing an abortion business with an “I Regret Lost Fatherhood” sign described how a woman approached him one day.
“I work in the office building here and have been watching your group for several weeks,” she told him. “I want to let you know that I’ve been hoping and praying something like this would happen here. I was in that clinic two and a half years ago.”
She was 44 and already had three children. “I heard a woman who had just had an abortion and was crying,” she continued. “I looked at the other women writing quickly. … I got a sense that something was terribly wrong. I called my husband and said, ‘I can’t do this, I’m not going to.’ And then I walked out. I never looked back.”
Her daughter is 2 years old today. “I’ve been praying that more people would come and pray in front of this clinic,” she concluded. “You guys are an answer to my prayers. Thank you.”