If you think abortion only affects women and the unborn child, think again. Men generally deal with abortion in silence but they also experience post-abortion trauma, according to Winnipeg pastor and counsellor Scott Miller.
Anger, shame, grief, guilt and remorse are just some of the emotions men experience after they lose a child, he said. Alcohol and drug abuse are also common among post-abortive men.
Miller spoke at Kings University College Oct. 10 at a breakfast session on the topic How Abortion Affects Men. The Alberta Life Issues Educational Society (ALIES), which operates the Back Porch project in Edmonton, organized the event.
Miller, who is married and has a daughter, knows about post-abortion trauma because he experienced it after a girlfriend of his had an abortion when he was 20. He was okay with the abortion at first but then guilty feelings began to emerge and it took him more than 30 years to heal.
Scott, a Pentecostal pastor and addictions counsellor, has also seen countless men suffer silently, deeply and alone over the years. Surveys he has carried out reveal 80 per cent of men continue to be affected by the experience years after the abortion took place.
That led Scott to start a House of Esau, a ministry whose focus is to bring a man to fuller restoration in the various areas that abortion has affected him. He is also director of Rachel's Vineyard Winnipeg, part of an international post-abortion healing ministry for men and women.
Those who come to him must admit their responsibility in their baby's death, repent and apologize to the woman and the child. They also get to name their child and to grieve for the child over a memorial stone. Scott did all of that before he found relief. He even wrote a letter to the aborted child.
"Every abortion begins with a pregnancy (and) every pregnancy with a mother and father," the pastor said in his presentation.
A man's emotional response to pregnancy includes feelings of wonder, joy, pride, despair, happiness and panic. His response to abortion, on the other hand, is loaded with feelings of anxiety, guilt, relief, grief, anguish and powerlessness.
A study presented by Scott showed that of 1,000 men who accompanied their partners to abortion clinics 80 per cent recognized the humanity of the child, many experienced severe anxiety, the majority felt angry towards themselves and their partners, and many began to cry during the interview.
Why do men react this way to an upcoming abortion? "Because it's a child that's going to be killed," Scott said.
When a child is about to be lost to abortion, he said the father intuitively knows he will be failing in his mission to preserve his heritage, to procreate, to parent, to protect and to provide, among other things.
Consequently, when the abortion is performed, many men suffer deeply. As outlined by Scott, the consequences for men after abortion include broken relationships, substance abuse, self-hate, suicidal behaviour, feelings of grief, guilt, anger, feelings of depression and feelings of lost manhood.
Society has put in men's minds the idea that if the woman wants an abortion, they have to support her because it's her body and her decision alone, he said. "Babies are reproduced by men and women and we tend to forget that."
Men who willingly drop off their girlfriend at the abortion clinic will pay a heavy emotional price later on, once the reality of abortion sinks in. Men who are innocent victims of a woman's decision to abort feel the effects immediately. They have a hard time coping with the guilt they feel for not having done enough to persuade the woman to change her mind or to defend their baby's life.
A soldier preparing to go to Iraq, for example, hanged himself after his girlfriend had an abortion. "If I can't defend the life of my own child, how can I defend my country," he said in a note he left.
Another man developed a mental illness after he learned his child had been aborted. It took him 10 years to recover.
"There are lot of children in heaven who want to see their dad," Scott said.