Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Terrell Clemmons writes in the latest issue of Salvo magazine about the impact abortions have on men involved in the situation, a relatively undiscussed (perhaps even socially taboo?) subtopic that is also somewhat neglected by the scientific literature. Opening with the Ernest Hemingway story “Hills Like White Elephants,” an early literary attempt to grapple with lingering, diffuse emotions over the procedure, he goes on to cite a pioneering sociologist’s work on the issue:

Arthur Shostak, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Drexel University, was an early voice insisting that abortion is not just a women’s issue. After his own personal involvement in an abortion, he placed questionnaires in the waiting rooms of abortion clinics, surveyed a thousand of the respondents, and published the results in  Men and Abortion: Losses, Lessons, and Loves  (1985).
 Two major themes stood out. The first was “the deep involvement of the men.” Eighty-four percent felt that they had been a full partner in resolving the pregnancy, but few were at peace with the resolution. The second was the men’s anxiety and high level of personal distress. “An overwhelming proportion of them had thoughts about the fetus, had dreamed about the child that would not be and anticipated misgivings after the abortion,” Shostak found. “Ninety-eight percent said that if they could help it, they would never, ever find themselves in this situation again.”

Shostak himself, although he voices no objection to abortion on moral grounds, felt likewise. “While I believe my lover and I chose the least-worst of the options available to us over two decades ago, I have lingering regrets about the situation.”

Fortunately, as Clemmons proceeds to note, there has been more recent work on the subject, including a 2010 study which adds further weight to the contention that abortion is not, as some seek to portray it, a choice-in-a-vacuum that only impacts (if it does that at all) the individual agent making the decision. Rather, it is a “loss [which] reverberates and magnifies over time,” drawing in a veritable network of others.

Read the rest of Clemmons’ article here .

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles