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The abortion debate often ignores fathers

Instead of deriding men for being feckless, shouldn’t we recognise them as a vital part of parenting?

By on Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Men do care about their unborn children (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Men do care about their unborn children (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

RomeReports TV News Agency recorded that the Holy Father said Mass in St Peter’s Square on Monday, to celebrate life on “Evangelium Vitae Day”. I noticed the reference because of its title: “Life is a Gift. Say yes to life, no to death!” One of the placards we hold during our monthly pro-life prayer vigil outside our local hospital has the legend “Life is a Gift” on it. I often catch car drivers, who are slowly passing our little group to get to the main road, read it in a puzzled rather than a hostile way. The message has possibly never occurred to them.

The Pope reminded his listeners that “All too often, people do not choose life, they do not accept the Gospel of Life but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, do not respect life…” LifeSiteNews for June 10 gave an extra dimension to the Holy Father’s words. It quoted a young man who wrote to a newspaper to express his anguish over his girlfriend’s decision to have an abortion. So often we think that women are pressured into abortions by their boyfriends. But what of those men who want to be fathers? Or, not having planned to be a father, nevertheless want to welcome the new life they have carelessly engendered, and who are then prevented from doing so by their girlfriend?

The young man wrote, “I’m really confused right now… I have a relatively new girlfriend – it’s only a few months since we got together – and as a result of her having a virus and vomiting all the time, the Pill wasn’t effective and now she is pregnant. She wants to have an abortion because she says we don’t know each other well enough to be parents, and I can’t think of anything worse than aborting an unborn child… I am at my wit’s end. None of our parents has a clue as to what is really going on. I’m in my late 20s and she is a few years younger. What are your thoughts?”

The newspaper columnist reminded the young man that the decision to abort or not was solely in the woman’s hands, but reminded him that adoption was also a choice. But a blogger who picked up the plea for advice was more scathing; she derided him for his concern and told him in no uncertain terms that he was putting his girlfriend’s future at risk and forcing her to “commit to 18 years of parenthood with a near-stranger”. She heartlessly brushed his feelings aside as if he had not the right to them. The article, by Cassy Fiano, commented that “when men choose to react [to the pregnancy] by rising to the occasion and accepting responsibility, they’re lambasted by pro-aborts”.

In my Monday blog I wrote about absentee fathers and how this blights the lives of their sons. Fiano’s article also notes this, pointing out that the pro-choice lobby actively encourages men to avoid responsibility for their behaviour and at the same time mocks and insults those like the young man mentioned above who want to face up to their paternity. Anne Lastman’s book, Redeeming Grief, about which I have also blogged, provides testimonies of several men who have been deeply affected by their girlfriend’s abortion. Instead of deriding men for being feckless, or ignoring their pain when they want to assume responsibility, shouldn’t society recognise men for what they are – a vital part in the equation of mutually responsible parenthood?