Medical Right Watch
The Latest "Victims" of Abortion
Men have become the new “victims” of abortion in the eyes of the Medical Right. While there is no medical or scientific evidence to indicate men suffer from a feeling of loss, Medical Right commentators are using a combination of self-analysis and Biblical imagery to make this point. The anti-abortion movement has made headway in portraying women as “victims” who suffer from the mythical “post-abortion syndrome.” Characterizing men as victims is another step in stigmatizing abortion and asserting that the “will of God” is for women to be mothers.
At the recent National
Right to Life convention, the idea of “lost fatherhood” took
center stage. In a workshop on men and abortion, psychologist Greg Hasek,
a marriage and family therapist at an Oregon Christian counseling center,
showcased his own feelings of guilt from a relationship in which a pregnancy
was terminated. He claimed that men bury their shame and pain about abortion
in addictions to sex, pornography, drugs, and alcohol.
What’s more, Hasek blamed abortion and feminism for what he called the crisis in American families. He said that in a culture that sanctions abortion, men often feel as if they have no say in pregnancy or feel guilty because they pressured the woman to have an abortion, abandoned the woman, or did not even know about the pregnancy until after the fact. Men who have been touched by abortion are angry, bitter and hurt, according to this theory. They are especially angry if they feel they have no control over whether or not their wife or partner will terminate the pregnancy. Hasek theorized that these men have higher rates of domestic violence, child abuse, depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety, and an inability to bond with children, stepchildren, their spouse, or God.
However, reputable research tells another story. It indicates that men show violent anger toward their wife or partner because of pregnancy, not termination of pregnancy. According to a 2005 international study by the World Health Organization, between 4% and 12% of women who had been pregnant reported being beaten during pregnancy, more than 90% by their husband or partner.
No one in the audience seemed to need proof of Hasek’s theories. Instead, Hasek drew on his interpretation of Scripture to reassert a vision of Eden. “God created men to care for women and children. Women look to men for decisions. The fear of abandonment—powerful in most women—means that they’ll choose love from a man over love from a child.”
Workshop co-leader Dave Wemhoff also showcased his personal pain from getting someone pregnancy and being complicit in choosing abortion. He went even further, lambasting contemporary feminism for diverting the culture away from “how men and women are hard-wired. Men are meant to protect and provide, building a family. It’s the natural law, the will of God,” he says. In addition, while he believes that healing those individuals who suffer from post-abortion health problems is important, he finds it insufficient. For him and his colleagues, it is imperative that activists eliminate reproductive options. As he tells it, religious communities should strive for Paradise, a place in which abortion is illegal, autonomous females are non-existent, and men are in charge as “the husbands and fathers God created them to be.”
The trend to casting men as victims has a long history. In the early 1980s,
the anti-abortion movement began to heed criticism that their reverence for
the fetus came at the expense of showing they cared about women. In short
order, anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers sprang up around the country.
Armed with baby blankets and diapers, they preach that having an abortion
not only kills “unborn children,” but leaves women grieving and
dysfunctional. Shortly thereafter, they coined the term "post-abortion
syndrome"; he claim that feelings of guilt, shame and sadness follow
the surgery has been repeatedly disproved. Then came the specious link, decried
by the American Medical Association, between abortion and breast cancer.
In the new theory, confessions are central to reparative therapy. Men’s mental health woes, Hasek implies, require them to get on their knees, confess their transgressions, and make peace with God. While Hasek does not go so far as to say that this will stem sex addictions, end drug or alcohol abuse, or stop men from abusing their partners or children, he believes that men’s testimonies about the “pain of abortion” will go a long way toward strengthening families and curing pathologies. It may also go a long way toward further stigmatizing abortion and bringing on more restrictions and obstacles.
“We have to make a bigger deal about how abortion affects men,” Hasek concludes. Psychological woundedness is powerful. We are our brother’s keepers.”
Eleanor J. Bader
September 14, 2007
Read more about National Right to Life at www.rhrealitycheck.org
Read more about "post-abortion syndrome"
Abortion Under Attack,
There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?, New York Times magazine
of Abortion Trauma Syndrome, Nada Stotland
Abortion Rights for Men Pushed
The drive to establish men’s rights in abortion may make headway in
at least one state. In Ohio, legislators have introduced a bill (HB 287) to
give men the legal right to decide whether a woman they impregnate may or
may not have an abortion. A woman seeking an abortion would be required to
get permission from—in the language of the bill—“the father
of the fetus” and provide her doctor with his identity and “written
informed consent” for the abortion. If two or more men are identified
as the possible father, a paternity test would be required. If the pregnancy
is the result of rape, the woman must provide a police report; if incest,
a police report or paternity test. Getting a man to provide consent who is
not the source of the sperm would be a misdemeanor called “abortion
fraud.” A woman is out of luck if she doesn’t know the identity
of the man or can’t get in touch with him. A doctor who performs an
abortion without the consent of the male sexual partner also commits a misdemeanor,
unless the abortion is necessary to protect the woman’s life or health.
The effort to make men’s “suffering” from abortion a mainstream
issue links a bevy of Medical Right organizations. The American Academy of
Medical Ethics (AAME) currently features “Resources for Men” on
its website. AAME’s executive director is Dr. David Stevens, also executive
director of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. The AAME “Resources”
are a direct link to the Life Issues Institute, where National Right to Life
Committee founder Dr. John Willke is president, and include a “Missing
Arrows Bible Study” (“arrows” in this case refers to children),
a brochure, “Men Hurt Too,” and a DVD presentation, “Can
You Hear Their Pain,” with a picture of a man hiding his eyes. Life
Issues also hosts the website of the Men and Abortion Network, whose 11 members
include Vincent M. Rue of the Institute for Pregnancy Loss in Florida, another
Medical Right player. Rue wrote in 1996 that men suffer from a partner’s
abortion because it is “against an innate male drive to protect and
Another Men and Abortion Network member, Fathers and Brothers Ministries
in Colorado, promotes a 46-page book on “Leading A Bible Study Group
To Help Fathers Heal After an Abortion.” David C. Reardon of The Elliot
Institute claims it is “beyond dispute” that abortion causes spousal
battering (there is no evidence of that) and urges men to seek forgiveness
for involvement in an abortion through anti-abortion activism.
The Bioethics Defense Fund in Arizona (“Human Rights from Beginning
to End”) offers a DVD on “Men and Abortion” and offers talks
about how men can be protectors of women rather than “exploiters.”
Focus on the Family, one of the largest and most influential Medical Right
groups, refers to the “taboo grief” of men on its “troubledwith”
website. Psychiatrist Dr. Karl Benzio, who is with the Christian Medical and
Dental Associations, forecasts a long future for this issue by saying that
“the topic has not been studied sufficiently.”
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