Oh, those ’60s—free love, and the demands for unrestrained and non-committal recreational sex found their way into society. Women needed to have equality in sexual irresponsibility so they could just have sex without consequence (pregnancy). Abortion had to be part of the equation, but there was no patience for a legislative process to equalize the sexual irresponsibility of women with men. Although some states such as CO as early as 1967 passed laws allowing abortion those demanding more clamored for a national resolve. So, in the winter of 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on two cases Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton which made abortion legal in all 50 states for the full term of pregnancy (also know as: abortion on demand).
These decisions set a cultural course making it legal for women to terminate pregnancy by abortion any time from conception to term.
Children needed to be wanted children, not surprises, or unwanted pregnancies which simply had to be born into a non-caring and abusive world. Abortion would solve that too. Every child would be a chosen child, a wanted child, a loved child. If you are reading this and you are under the age of 41 it is because your mother decided to continue her pregnancy (you) and you were born. Rejoice in that decision; bless her everyday for her choice to bless you. You are alive.
Was something missing with this perfect sexually utopian brave new world? Human nature of course—is hard to legislate. Old as time are the issues of abuse, betrayal, jealousy, anger—rage, abandonment, regret, grief, discontent, non-commitment, and a host of other normal responses to behavioral dysfunctions. Could identity be a problem? For instance, men like to be involved in decisions. Every woman who has ever bought a car without consulting her husband knows that. So it is with men when the life of their unborn child is involved. Some want you women to “terminate the pregnancy,” “take care of it.” Some want you to have the baby. In either case though men are excluded from any legal process to effect the outcome of your choice. That does not mean they are not influential in your decision though.
National statistics reveal that most women 7 out of 10 chose to abort their children because they lack male involvement, support, or commitment from the father to continue the parenting and family process. Many do not want to abort their babies but they just can’t get the father to stay around. When the pregnancy is announced to their significant other they will get responses ranging from silence to denial of fatherhood or demands that they abort. Some men try diligently to stop the abortion (about 2 in 10). Many are successful in getting the abortion done and others in getting it stopped by their influential efforts.
It is not without cost though. I have been listening to men who harbor deep regrets and personal disdain for themselves because of the abortion both those who succeed in getting it done and those who tried to stop it. As one man in one of my support groups put it: “You can shoot yourself in the foot, or you can get shot in the foot but you still have a hole in your foot and it hurts all the time.”
When I talk about these hurts I’ve seen in men have I often get this response. Oh, yeah, nobody ever thinks about the father, that’s very interesting…” A few days ago I had a conversation with a guy whose been wrestling a dilemma for over 25 years. His girlfriend told him she visit a friend for the weekend. The next Monday morning she told him. “I aborted your baby Saturday morning.” It was a before and after day for him. Before the abortion he was a man. After the abortion he realized he was a father with an aborted son or daughter. All that at once was and still is devastating to him, but he couldn’t talk about it until now. “She didn’t even ask how I felt about it.” That was my baby, I would have raised it…” he said. I’ve heard his story many times. We talked further about how different he was after. He began to explain—his life is similar to many others. The Bible refers to it as “heart sick”(Pr. 13:12) “I miss my kid—heck, I’d have grandkids by now if she hadn’t done that. He has needed someone to give him permission to speak of it for 25 years. Now he can begin to heal. A few weeks ago a man was telling me about how he deeply regrets pushing his girlfriend into an abortion. He’s married now but they can’t have children—she lost her fertility. They lost their fatherhood and motherhood. As he put it: there’s this big elephant in our room, we know he’s there but we ignore him and go on. I don’t think we’ll ever get over it. He needs to heal.
A few years ago I wrote a bible study and a training manual to help compassionate lay people lead a small group or do “grief work” one on one. I’ve had thousands of hits on the web site, and since then there are about a dozen organizations nationally who formed a network with me to help fathers heal from the loss of their aborted children.
At a conference in San Francisco in 2008 people came from all over the world to learn how to restore fatherhood from abortion losses. Some were researchers, some lay counselors, some priests and pastors, some men and women affected by an abortion. This is not just an American issue, it is a human issue. It is not just an issue of the soul but of the spirit too. We are New Testament people, but God put his ownership on the first born in the Old Testament and Jesus went further in the New. He said to let the children come to him for as such is the Kingdom of Heaven—Millions have come to Him, the ones we didn’t want he was happy to receive and care for. Healing often comes down to how a man thinks about and identifies self. Once he realizes God has forgiven him and redeemed him from his old nature he can think of himself differently in his heart. He can think of himself as a forgiven son of God without judgment by times in the past. Freedom is not very far away for millions of men. It is up to us to give them permission to heal.