Wow. I’m floored by the information in this article, about (mostly) christian men who are suffering “post-abortion trauma” after their partners have gotten abortions.
When I read this in the LA Times, I was blown away by the anti-choice movement’s ability to be both empathetic and skeezily manipulative with those emotions. Because it seems to me this is the other side of the double-edged sword where enlightened men proudly say, “we’re pregnant” when their female partners are pregnant. Feminists have worked hard to make men feel emotional commitment as well as responsibility to the children they father. Now this “we” stuff is cutting the other way.
Here’s some of what the men have to say:
“We had abortions,” said Mark B. Morrow, a Christian counselor. “I’ve had abortions.”
Wow. I mean, wow. Wombs are getting crowded…there’s not only the growing child in there, but a grown man too.
Does this mean if my dear husband who I love more than anything had an emotionally-wracking, difficult medical procedure, that I, his wife, had it too? Hmm. I hope I have more boundaries than to claim that.
Since the concept of post-abortion syndrome first emerged in the early 1980s, some women have recounted similar stories — and learned to leverage them into political power. They speak at legislative hearings and rallies organized by the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
Last spring, the Supreme Court cited these accounts as one reason to ban the late-term procedure that opponents call “partial-birth” abortion.
Bingo! This is what all the testifying and whipping people into a frenzy and tear-soaked recriminations are all about: changing legislation and influencing the supreme court. (What? Since when did the supreme court rely on anecdotes to decide law?)
Ok, more that raises my eyebrows so high, they’re part of my hairline:
Therapist Vincent M. Rue, who helped develop the concept of post-abortion trauma, runs an online study that asks men to check off symptoms (such as irritability, insomnia and impotence) that they feel they have suffered as a result of an abortion.
“Irritability, insomnia, and impotence” caused by “post-abortion trauma”? In men? I find it strange and a bit off-putting that the hormone-amped, highly-keyed emotions a woman feels when a pregnancy ends (whether that’s through birth, miscarriage, or abortion) is now being given steroids and land-grabbed by men as part of their emotional landscape. I have no doubt that men feel the loss of a happily anticipated pregnancy as deeply and darkly as women do–miscarriages hit hard, as does infertility. So far as I know, men don’t experience post-partum depression.
But to put men’s feelings of disappointment, regret, and grief over an aborted pregnancy *on the same level of importance* as a woman’s feelings and DECISIONS about her own body–and thus her fate, her life’s trajectory–seems really really really, can I just emphasize really? REALLY misplaced.
Because, Sad Christian (Anti-Choice) Man, while you and your sad feelings are there at the time of the abortion to cloud the issue, a child a woman bears will instead be around FOREVER if she decides to bear it. and I’m guessing that that’s probably FOREVER + 1 longer than the Sad Christian Anti-Choice Man sticks around. In fact, reading between the lines of what little anecdotal information is given in the article, it seems like these regret-filled middle-aged men are indeed no longer with the past girlfriend (or girlfriendS) these men impregnated. Those relationships didn’t seem the kind to hold together–although I’m sure the men would argue that the abortion caused the breakup. Since that puts us in the land of post hoc fallacy and trying to prove a negative, it’s kinda awesomely unassailable in that blind-faith-based way some folks like.
This raises my eyebrows so high they’ve rolled over the top of my head and they’re clear down the back of my neck:
Morrow, the counselor, described his regret as sneaking up on him in midlife — more than a decade after he impregnated three girlfriends (one of them twice) in quick succession in the late 1980s. All four pregnancies ended in abortion.
Mr. Morrow, I would suggest that YOU LEARN ABOUT AND USE A RELIABLE PROPHYLACTIC, LIKE A CONDOM. Because your after-the-fact regret about babies “you” were “pregnant” with need not have caused your girlfriendS (girlfriends! as in, plural!) all the actual grief–not to mention discomfort–THEY directly experienced that YOU’RE going on about, IF YOU HAD USED A CONDOM WISELY, OFTEN, and WELL.
Do middle-aged men need to be educated and urged to use contraception? To take responsibility for it? I think this article, more than anything else, screams out yes. they. do. Geez. It’s not only teen boys who need drilling about condoms, it’s middle-aged dudes too.
Sociologist Arthur Shostak has interviewed thousands of men waiting in abortion clinics; though they tried to project strength to help their lovers through the ordeal, many told him that they felt powerless, anxious and alone.
Recruits often cycle through church-based retreats, support groups and Bible studies that aim to heal post-abortion trauma.
At one retreat, the men are told to picture their sons and daughters dancing in a sunny meadow at the feet of Jesus Christ.
“They draw in men who may have a little ambivalence, possibly a little guilt, and they exacerbate those feelings,” Shostak said.
Hoo, boy. There’s something disturbing about how the anti-choice movement has perfected the predatory instincts that identify emotional vulnerability in people and then offer succor larded with agenda-ridden manipulation. (Good people of faith, i.e., interfaith pro-choice groups*, please rescue your religion from these rogues!)
Ya know, if you enjoy those kinds of head-trips, fine, but your head-trips end where MY womb begins. ‘Kay?
And I think this is where the feminist notion of “the personal is political” takes a terribly distorted wrong turn. In the hands of fundamentalist christians, “the personal is political” means making all people live by the tenets of some people’s faith…which leads to theocracy. Yikes.
The article closes with a last interview: a middle-aged houston lawyer named Chris Aubert, who
felt only indifference in 1985 when a girlfriend told him she was pregnant and planned on an abortion. When she asked if he wanted to come to the clinic, he said he couldn’t; he played softball on Saturdays. He stuck a check for $200 in her door and never talked to her again.
Aubert, 50, was equally untroubled when another girlfriend had an abortion in 1991. “It was a complete irrelevancy,” he said.
Ok, this is where the pro-choice counseling of male partners (and feminist parenting of male children) has a place. Being a jerk when your girlfriend is asking for your support is wrong, so wrong. Aubert agrees on that point.
To his credit he owns up to his previous insensitive behavior and irresponsibility. He even acknowledges that the “two abortions may have cleared his path to future happiness” because he was able to start his law career financially unencumbered by alimony and child support and avoided likely divorces in his personal life.
But Aubert believes that if he could turn back time he should’ve argued for the girlfriends to have had the babies and not abort them.
But would his long-ago girlfriends agree? Or might they also consider the abortions a choice that set them on a better path?
Aubert looks startled. “I never really thought about it for the woman,” he says slowly [emphasis mine].
His recriminations never included thinking about whether or not the choice the woman made also improved HER life. Wow. Yup. There it is in a nutshell, the wrongness of men who say “I was pregnant.” It’s not about you, dude. It’s only partially about you. It’s pretty much about the woman. It’s okay that it’s pretty much about the woman, as it’s her body and she should make decisions about life-changing things like having a baby: when, with whom, how, and where.
Aubert’s now a Catholic and will be protesting the anniversary of Roe v. Wade soon in Washington, DC.
Aubert pictures men by the hundreds praying, chanting — and waving signs: “I regret my abortion.”
I have a suggestion for him: maybe they could increase the unintended self-parody of what they stand for by wearing under their shirts a homemade Empathy Belly of a bowling ball wrapped in a pillow as they hold their “I regret my abortion” signs? Just a thought.
Perhaps they could also cry as they march to show people how regret-filled they are and how much they’d like to force all women everywhere to have children any time they become pregnant.
And then they can wave condoms labelled “Seed Killers” or “My Little Swimmers Deserve to Live.”
Wow. Now it’s clear what pronouns would change: from ‘she’ to ‘we’ to ‘he.’
ETA: This article in The Nation, “Pity the Man,” further cleans the clock of this bogus “movement.”