There’s a part of me, that for many reasons, really doesn’t want to write this post. But I almost feel like I have to. I’m going to talk about something many people would argue that I shouldn’t. And that’s abortion. Before I start I will say that I am a man who has never been directly affected by abortion, so if that’s enough to put you off then feel free to close your browser and ignore anything else that I have to say. I won’t be offended and I almost wouldn’t blame you. But if you’re open to hear me out then I’ll try and talk about this.
Abortion Isn’t Something That Can Only Affect Women
I want to talk about this because too many times I’ve seen men’s opinions, thoughts and emotions on abortion get disregarded for absolutely no other reason than because they’re men. It’s something I’ve seen time and time again, but the reason I’m finally writing this is because of a post written by Harriet of Tobyandroo on her blog. It might be worth reading before you continue with this post.
Truth be told I think it’s an excellent post. Harriet talks about the grief that comes along with having an abortion and the isolating loss she felt from it. It’s a hard read, and one that I have the utmost sympathy for. There’s just one bit of the post I took issue with that I want to talk about. And it’s this:
“I read a few comments on a Facebook thread a few weeks ago, a couple of men (go ﬁgure) discussing their thoughts on abortion and what a “tough one” it was. I wanted to scream at my phone that it wasn’t and never would be a tough one for them, it would never be a burden that they would shoulder, their opinions on the matter weren’t relevant or required.”
I respect Harriet an awful lot for being open enough to talk about this subject. It’s an incredibly brave and vulnerable thing to do and I really don’t want to take anything away from what she’s written. It’s just slightly frustrating that just like many other people out there, she’s taken the stance that when it comes to abortion men aren’t really affected by it and their opinions don’t matter. Maybe I’m just taking what she’s said and misinterpreting it. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done this. Or perhaps she didn’t really mean anything by it and just wanted to vent some frustration. But I can’t ignore what she said.
I know there are a lot of women out there who are going to heavily relate to what Harriet said in that post. But there will also be a lot of men who do too.
If my wife was to ever have an abortion, no one could deny that it would also have a massive impact on me too
To say “it wasn’t and never would be a tough one for them” is a rather harsh thing to say. What’s effectively being said there is that if my wife and I were to ever have an abortion, it would only be tough for my wife.
I’ve been very open with this blog about how I’ve struggled as a parent. I wouldn’t have to make a wild leap to think of a situation in which we might consider an abortion – say we had twins next and then Rachel got pregnant straight away.
Even very recently I’ve debated with myself whether I even want another child. I’m currently back on antidepressants and the thought of having another baby scares me about how it might affect my depression. We’re still trying under the assumption I’ll be fine by the time we eventually have a baby. But I’ll still admit that I was genuinely worried about the prospect of Rachel being pregnant when I was in a deep slump.
But if we ever did have an abortion, not that it’s something we would ever want, then it’s something we would choose together. We would feel the guilt and the grief together. We would feel the impact of the baby that wasn’t to be together. We’re a family. As much as people might want to forget, it takes two to make a baby. And as such I would still be losing something if we had an abortion. I’ve experienced guilt mixed with grief after a friend of mine died on a drunken night out. I know it’s a horrible feeling and I know I would feel it tenfold if we ever had an abortion.
Why is abortion an unacceptable thing for men to talk about?
On another note, I really don’t understand why many women feel that men can’t express opinions on abortion.
It’s absurd. You don’t have to only be able to experience something to have an opinion on it. People like Ben Shapiro – someone who is heavily pro life – shouldn’t have their opinions invalidated just because he’s a man. We shouldn’t give in to identity politics and stop men from talking about abortion. We live in a free world and freedom of opinion is certainly part of it.
Should men have the final say on an abortion? No. I obviously don’t think they should. But their opinion should still be able to be voiced. Especially when it’s something that is directly going to affect them.
My wife can hold opinions on what I do with my body, and I can do the same with her
If I was to have a vesctomy then would my wife’s opinion matter? Or would she be expected to support me regardless? I dare say she’d have something to say and I should be more than willing to hear her out. But ultimately the choice would be mine and mine alone.
Whatever Rachel wants to do to her body is absolutely her choice. But I can still hold opinions on it. If she wanted to tattoo her face I might have something to say. So why then should it be any different with an abortion? Especially when I would have more invested in it than I would do her face getting tattooed.
What happens with a baby will always be the woman’s choice. And so it should. But that doesn’t mean the views of the father aren’t relevant or they shouldn’t be able to be expressed.
What about situations in which the man wants to keep the baby but the woman doesn’t? I’m not saying she should keep the baby. But would we accept the man talking about his grief for a baby he wanted that he didn’t get to have? Surely his grief there is perfectly valid and acceptable?
Maybe I shouldn’t be talking about any of this
Maybe it’s not my place to comment on abortions. I’ve never been through it and I’m a man. As such I should get back in my lane, so to speak. I know by talking about this I’m potentially opening myself up to an awful lot of criticism. But I hate seeing men get ignored when it comes to abortion.
I know there are lots of men out there who have grieved abortions. It’s the same with pregnancy, birth trauma and postnatal depression. They’re all things that men tend to get ignored over but shouldn’t.
I was mostly ignored during my wife’s pregnancy at appointments and scans. We had a traumatic birth that arguably affected me more than my wife. And I had postnatal depression. You could argue that it won’t be long and I’ll probably get my period. Sorry, I had to put a silly joke in here somewhere.
My point is that often men still go through this stuff too. A traumatic birth is obviously horrific for the woman to go through, but there’s still a man there watching the whole thing. An abortion might be a choice that a woman makes, but a man can still be right there with her suffering the same loss that she is.
My intention with this isn’t to offend anyone, downplay someone’s experience or act like I actually know what an abortion feels like. I don’t. I’m doing this just to try and talk about a compacted issue and try and start including men in all this too. In essence, I have the same intentions with this post as to why I started this blog when I first talked about postnatal depression. It’s to talk about something that men often get ignored over but can still be greatly affected by.