There’s a man involved in every abortion. He might have supported the woman’s decision to abort, or even coerced her into doing it. Maybe he didn’t agree with the abortion, but went along with her decision, or maybe he didn’t want her to abort and tried to stop her. Some men didn’t even know about the pregnancy until after it was terminated.
“These men have been all over the board,” Andrew Walther, vice president for communications and media for the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, said about men who have told their stories at conferences for post-abortive men. “The only commonality they have is that now, they deeply regret what occurred.”
The Knights, headquartered in New Haven, Conn., co-sponsored Healing Visions conferences with the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing (NOPARH)and conferences on the effects of abortion on men with Project Rachel.
“Our organization has more than 1.8 million Catholic men who are members, so this certainly is an issue relevant to Catholic men,” Walther said. “We are also one of the most active organizations in terms of supporting the right to life through a variety of our initiatives, so these conferences were a very good fit for us.”
The events address issues for men that seldom get attention, Walther told OSV.
While grieving women may turn inward with depression, men tend to react outwardly. According to NOPARH, men suffering an abortion loss may experience rage, chemical abuse, grief over the loss of fatherhood, increased risky behaviors, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, violence against the woman who had the abortion or subsequent partners, being overly nurturing or hyper-vigilant toward subsequent children, desire to replace the lost child through having another child, and becoming involved in the pro-life movement. They also report a sense of impotence and a loss of identity, and often feel like they aren’t entitled to grief because it was the woman’s decision.
Priests For Life in Staten Island, N.Y., runs Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest post-abortion ministry. The retreats draw mostly women, but the men who attend find healing for themselves, and their presence adds another dimension to the women’s journeys.
“The healing of the male/female relationship is so important because there’s lots of anger over abortion,” said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests For Life. “One of the effects of abortion on women is that they just can’t relate to a man anymore, and they can’t trust men because it was through a man that all this pain came to them. It’s deep seated anger that can be very destructive if not dealt with.”
The Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a project of Priests For Life and Anglicans For Life, makes the public aware of the devastation of abortion to women, men and their families.
Outreach to providers
The Society of Centurions, based in Victoria, British Columbia, reaches out to former abortion providers, many of them men. It was founded 12 years ago by Dr. Philip G. Ney, a psychiatrist and psychologist who teaches a program for counseling women, men and children who have been damaged by both abortion and child abuse. The society has members in Canada, the United States and Europe.
“There isn’t one factor that promotes the change in abortion providers who stop doing abortions,” Ney said, “except it usually begins with a change in themselves prompted by God. Sometimes there is a sudden realization that what they have been doing is killing little babies. That revelation may come as a consequence of them coming to know Jesus personally. And with that comes the awareness that they must now face major conflicts in their own lives. The underlying process [of providing abortions] is dehumanization. As they heal and become better humanized, the babies become humanized. Their healing is often a painful process that, like the Apostle Paul, is necessary before they try to help and heal others.”
The society runs a weeklong retreat of reflection and rehabilitation that includes insight, repentance, repudiation and reconciliation that leads to contacting and apologizing to women they aborted.
“As they progress, their guilt becomes more real and intense,” Ney said. “God doesn’t allow them to just say I’m forgiven for all those abortions. It must be, and they (SOC members) readily say it, ‘I murdered little Johnny and Sarah’ and then God forgives and heals them.”
Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller writes from Pennsylvania. For information about the next SOC seminar, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.