Fathers will be honored this Sunday, as they should be. Abortion is often called a women's issue, but here are three ways that it intersects with fatherhood.
(1) The importance of supportive fathers. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction found that pregnant women who felt they lacked support from the child's father were more likely to choose abortion. A 2004 study in Medical Science Monitor found that 64 percent of American women having abortions said they felt pressured by others to abort. Other studies and evidence confirm that fathers often play a central role in determining pregnancy outcomes.
Men who help conceive a baby must support (emotionally and in whatever other ways) both mother and child. When they don't, abortion is more likely, and women and children suffer (whether abortion is chosen or not).
(2) The effect of abortion on fathers. Abortion can detrimentally affect men just as it can women. Fathers may experience grief, guilt, anger, depression and other psychological consequences following abortion. Books like Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing, Redeeming a Father's Heart and Men and Abortion: Losses, Lessons and Love have explored this issue. A 2000 Canadian study of couples having first-trimester abortions concluded that "being involved in a first-trimester abortion can be highly distressing for both women and men."
Still, the tragedy of "lost fatherhood" has largely been unstudied and ignored. It shouldn't be.
(3) Speaking out. Pro-choice advocates like to say that only women can speak about abortion, and many men are silent or (if they are pro-life, but strangely not if they are pro-choice) their opinions are disregarded. But that doesn't make any sense. The pro-life (or any other) position must be considered on its merits, not dismissed because of some characteristic of a person advancing that position. Many, many women, after all, make the very same pro-life case. Men have an obligation to graciously speak the truth and to defend the lives of those who cannot defend themselves.
Father's Day recognizes that fathers play an essential role in the lives of their children. They are also essential to restoring a culture of life in which all human beings, especially the youngest and most vulnerable, are respected and protected.