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78% of ‘Pro-Choice’ Men Hurt So Badly They Want Help after an Abortion: Study

May 5, 2023

As many as one out of every seven American men have experienced worsened mental health due to losing a child through abortion — including a majority of men who describe their views on abortion as “pro-choice,” a new study finds.

In all, 83% of such men said they either sought help or could have benefited from talking to someone about their emotions, according to a new study commissioned by Support After Abortion and conducted by ShapardResearch of Oklahoma City. The survey found that 71% of all men whose partner had an abortion suffered an adverse mental health impact afterwards — including many who consented to or suggested the abortion.

That includes 78% of men who identify as “pro-choice” on abortion, according to a separate email the group sent to The Washington Stand.

These figures indicate a vast, unrecognized population of men with hearts broken by the abortion industry. “If nearly three-quarters of men regret abortion, and 20% of men reportedly experience abortion in their lifetime,” then “one in seven men may be coping with negative impacts from abortion,” the survey says.

Abortion impacts Americans across all religious affiliations, the study specifies. Of those who have abortions, 30% describe themselves as Protestant, 24% as Catholic, and 8% as belonging to some other faith. “While not all who identify as religious desire religious programming, churches and people of faith can help support them,” the survey says.

The study’s author told The Washington Stand that realizing how many men shared his personal pain after an abortion led him to investigate the topic with precision. “After many conversations with my wife and family and the people in my inner circle, I realized that men had to know their pain was real ... and that they were not alone,” Chair Greg Mayo, chairman of the Support After Abortion National Men’s Task Force, told The Washington Stand.

Mayo lost two children to abortion, in 1988 and 1992. “I had no say in either decision,” he said — and the grief proved overwhelming. “There simply wasn’t an area of my life that was untouched by my loss: work, education, relationships (including eventually my marriage and the children I raised),” he writes. Even his therapist dismissed the trauma he suffered over lost fatherhood. “He told me that it probably ‘wasn’t a thing,’ that my feelings and behavior weren’t a result of those abortions,” he remembers. Grief drove him to engage in life-threatening activities “motivated by risking my life.”

In the decades following Roe v. Wade, liberal Supreme Court justices froze out fathers from having any voice in whether their children lived or died. The opinion in Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth (1976) rendered laws requiring a husband to consent to an abortion unconstitutional. Sixteen years later, Planned Parenthood of SE Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992) ruled spousal notification imposed an “undue burden” on the “constitutional right” of abortion-on-demand.

Culture soon said men had no right to influence the decision — nor any reason to grieve a woman’s choice. “Men’s grief is often disenfranchised,” says the report. “Their grief, a natural response to loss, is often invalidated. Men perceive that their thoughts and feelings are dismissed or not valued, and many remain silently in pain.”

Suppressed mourning “manifests in many ways,” the report reveals. “Men in the study reported depression, sadness, guilt, regret, anxiety, anger, thoughts of what could have been, emptiness, substance abuse, a sense of lost fatherhood, and other emotions.”

The men who responded to the survey, on condition of anonymity, revealed a decades-long emotional and psychological scarring. One man describes his emotions as “Insurmountable guilt. Regret. Feeling like a horrible person.”

“I have an emptiness that always lingers. I had no choice. I couldn’t save my baby,” says another respondent. A third individual, who says he supported his wife’s decision to have an abortion and still believes “it was the right decision,” admits he has struggled with “anger issues since then.”

In some cases, the men who now grieve suggested the abortion in the first place. “When she found out she was pregnant, she got upset and I panicked and looked for abortion clinics,” one man tells SAA. “But we didn’t talk about what we each wanted. I messed up bad. I wanted our child. I think she did, too.”

The survey finds these caustic, unresolved emotions may linger for years. “Almost 10 years ago I got my girlfriend pregnant. She didn’t want to keep it. Being a dad is what I always wanted. To this day it haunts me to the core,” says one man. As a result of her abortion, “I sunk into a depression and lost who I was. I still have trouble being around babies. I still would like a family of my own, but I need to get around this first.”

“Please, help me,” he concludes.

Support After Abortion offers abortion counseling through its After Abortion Line: 1-844-289-HOPE (4673). “Just talking about men’s abortions and knowing I’m not the only one and that there is hope for healing is priceless,” one post-abortive father tells the survey.

The SAA survey came out just as a European bioethicist published a paper on the continent’s surging debate over post-abortion guilt. A widely acclaimed journal, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, printed a paper by Anthony McCarthy of the Bios Centre that countered arguments downplaying the significance of post-abortion regret to the issue of abortion itself.

For parents who chose to give their child life, “there is one very possible and painful regret — moral regret for ending a life — that they have at any rate been spared,” he writes.

“Abortion regret does have moral significance, even if different studies give different figures for how commonly it occurs (bearing in mind that some who regret their abortions will be reluctant to respond to questionnaires),” said Michael Robinson of the U.K.-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). “It harms women’s interests to dismiss abortion regret or to see it as irrelevant to other women considering an abortion.”

It harms men, as well, SAA’s results show.

**Update: The original version of this story said 55% of men who identify as pro-choice experience regret. The group that published the survey, Support After Abortion, later issued a correction that the figure is actually 78% of such men.

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.