I had the honor of speaking at an international post-abortion conference held in Santiago, Chile, in early October 2011. Its goal was to equip pro-life leaders, clergy and counselors with necessary tools and information to assist men and women who suffer psychological harm after an abortion decision. Representatives from over ten countries participated in the two-day event hosted by the pro-life organization called Proyecto Esperanza. Countries represented included: Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and the United States. A follow-up conference has already been set for April 2013 in Mexico.
I presented information to the group on why men are affected by the loss of a child to abortion. In addition, I shared practical advice on how to identify and assist these hurting fathers, including ways to reach out to men. I brought with me an ample supply of educational materials which was given to participants of the conference. This included materials on men and abortion, as well as DVDs of Facing Life Head-On, our weekly pro-life TV program. I gave out episodes that dealt with abortion regret issues of both women and men. Some included testimonies of men who experienced grief after abortion. As a result of this event, my brochure, Men Hurt Too, is now available in Spanish.
The American delegation of presenters was surprised by the sophistication of efforts already underway in numerous Latin American nations. For example, in Peru a certified class on abortion regret is being given in universities. They have a wealth of medical professionals, including medical doctors, attorneys, and psychiatrists who help men and women with abortion regret. In addition, a post-abortion study was done on 1,500 individuals, including 175 men.
It is especially interesting that successful efforts are underway to encourage men and women to seek help with their abortion regret even in countries where abortion remains illegal.
One video testimony of a hurting father in Chile dramatically showed that regardless of the differences in cultures, men react in similar ways to a loss of a child to abortion.
After the conference, a one-day International Congress was held at the University of Santiago. Again, the focus was on abortion regret and care. One of the presenters was Dr. Priscilla Coleman who did a meta-analysis that included twenty-two studies linking abortion with suicide and other mental health issues. The meta-analysis was particularly important because it represented nearly 900,000 women and was published in the prestigious British Journal of Psychiatry.
At this Congress, Martha Shuping, MD, and I presented information and data on men and abortion. I spoke about why men are affected, and presented common symptoms observed in men. In addition, I shared with the overflow audience of more than five-hundred people, effective ways in which to treat these symptoms.
My final meeting was held at La Moneda, Chile’s presidential palace and the equivalent of our White House. I and another American, Georgette Forney, met with the President’s chaplain, Reverend Alfred Cooper. We also met with various Evangelical religious leaders. Chaplain Cooper indicated that we had “created quite a stir” earlier in the week at the University. He said that many people were talking about what we shared. He is certain that the conference and Congress provided the people of Chile with effective resources to combat the effort to legalize abortion in the country. And we sent representatives of other Latin American countries home, armed with crucial information on how to assist men who grief the loss of a child to abortion.