So your partner is pregnant..?
You’ve probably noticed that she’s conflicted, confused, worried, freaked out, grieved, agitated or all of the above as a result of this bombshell piece of news. This is not what you planned.
Whatever the circumstances, you’re in this together. The child growing within her was created by the two of you. It takes a bigger, more courageous person to man up and take responsibility than to handball the decision to her. You have what it takes to be a fantastic father and supporter, so walk this difficult path with her.
And consider this:
70 per cent of women who have had an abortion said they would have kept their baby if a significant person in their life offered meaningful support.
Are you game?
Saying YES to fatherhood
Support for you.
We love a can-do attitude! The support you give to your pregnant partner will be invaluable. Honestly, the smallest things you do – like helping her find information, attending antenatal classes or appointments at her side, being attentive to her needs (or cravings!) – will mean the world. It might not feel like much compared to the changes happening to her body and the sacrifices she will have to make, but just remaining by her side is immensely encouraging.
No doubt you have questions of your own, and need advice of a different kind. Here at Pregnancy Matters we are always ready to hear your questions and help with any education you may need. We have a specific course that is run for Mums and Dads that is free. It is a 1 on 1 course and provides you with information about all aspects of pregnancy and child rearing. We offer material support as well, so if you are in need of a cot or a change table or even some clothes, we are happy to help. Come in and see us or call Albany 9842 1572 or Rockingham 9518 2698
What can you do?
It’s true that the law says you have no right to intervene in the choice that a woman makes regarding continuing a pregnancy, relinquishing her child for adoption or having an abortion. Under Australian law, men have no right to prevent an abortion regardless of the age of the woman or girl, the circumstances of conception or whether you are the father of the unborn child, the father of the pregnant woman or girl, a father-in-law, sibling or male friend. In WA, parents of girls under 16 years of age are required to be notified that she is considering an abortion, but the choice is ultimately hers.
The law essentially renders you powerless.
But that doesn’t mean that you cannot offer gentle, loving, responsible support to your pregnant partner. Be aware of the power of your words. Saying nothing or saying “it’s up to you” can feel the same as abandonment to a woman. If she asks for your advice, comfort or support – she’s inviting you in. Take the opportunity to remind her (and yourself) that your circumstances are temporary, but the decision you make now will be with you for the rest of your life.
“She aborted our baby.”
Sorting through your feelings.
It is natural to feel grief following an abortion – even if you are the father and were supportive of your partner’s decision. Your grief, however, might look different to her’s.
Dr Vincent Rue is a pioneer researcher in the field of men and abortion. He discovered the following in his article titled The Effects of Abortion on Men.
“Men do grieve following abortion, but they are more likely to deny their grief or internalise their feelings of loss rather than openly express them… When men do express their grief, they try to do so in culturally prescribed ‘masculine’ ways, i.e. anger, aggressiveness, control.
Men typically grieve in a private way following an abortion. Because of this, men’s requests for help may often go unrecognised and unheeded by those around them.
A guilt-ridden, tormented male does not easily love or accept love. His preoccupation with his partner, his denial of himself and his relentless feelings of post-abortion emptiness can nullify even the best of intentions. His guilt may prevent him from seeking compassion, support or affection. In turn, he ‘forgets’ how to reciprocate these feelings.”
In the book Fatherhood Aborted: The Profound Effects of Abortion on Men, authors Guy Condon and David Hazard identified the following roles and corresponding responses in men after abortion:
- Men who wanted their partner to continue her pregnancy but were overruled can experience grief, guilt, rage/anger and a sense of impotence for their inability to protect their child or partner.
- It is not uncommon for these men to seek solace in drugs, alcohol and sexual addictions, dangerous behaviour such as extreme sports, driving too fast.
- They may become violent towards their spouse or partner or others.
- Adolescents who opposed an abortion but were disregarded can also be more prone to suicide.
- Men who were passive, who abrogated responsibility for speaking up for the unborn child and supporting their partner, can also experience the same symptoms of rage, anger, sadness. These may be experienced later in life; at the birth of another child, a new relationship, a subsequent abortion.
Unsurprisingly, these men find it hard to trust, and so struggle with commitment and identity.
- They may feel resentful and frustration.
- They may become people pleasers, particularly those in authority.
- They may fear rejection, find it hard to bond with others.
- They may feel powerless, isolated and inadequate.
- They may become depressed
It’s never too late to reach out for help. If you read through this and recognised yourself in the descriptions, it’s worth talking with someone. If you have a good friend or counsellor, that might be your best starting point. Otherwise, come in and talk to us.