When people think of unplanned pregnancy, they often begin thinking of the emotional journey the woman faces. It is not incorrect to associate unplanned pregnancy with women but too often we fail to recognize the emotional strain an unplanned pregnancy can have on a man. An individual that has worked closely with Advice and Aid Pregnancy Centers has offered his thoughts on how an unplanned pregnancy affects the man.
His side of the story
I’ve spent dozens of moments with men – men you probably don’t hear about – asking them how they feel that their girlfriend/wife/one-night-stand is pregnant. Sometimes after I asked “How are you feeling?” the young man would burst out laughing and we would both laugh for what seemed like thirty minutes. Other times the young man would treat me as though I was a cop trying to get him to break his fifth amendment right not to incriminate himself. Recently, I watched the music video of the Eminem song “River” which is about how he pressured a woman to get an abortion after getting her pregnant. The honesty of the video is refreshing and tragically accurate. It highlights the intense emotion of regret and pain that Eminem experienced due to his part in the abortion. It nearly runs the gamut on the different emotions I have seen in our counseling rooms.
Eminem’s story reminds me of other’s stories like it – stories of men who are affected by unplanned pregnancy. One particular client talked on the phone with me for 20 minutes, hysterically sharing his story with me. He had the perfect girl, cheated on her with someone else and got that someone else pregnant. He told me his life was over. He told me abortion was the only way. But the large majority of men I met with were not certain of the decision to abort. In fact, the phrase I heard more than any other in those meetings was “Well, it’s her choice.” I heard the phrase so often I wondered if someone had written a one sentence script, handed it to all young men engaging in sex, and they had dutifully memorized it. Although the statement is true, it falls short of the whole truth and leaves men with nothing else to say. In reality, with a little more prying, I learned (what I already knew) that the men I met with had strong feelings about the decision to parent, place for adoption, or abort.
Given a voice at last
I remember the many men who sat across from me looking down as I encouraged them to have a voice even if it was just in that room. I heard near poetic preaching from young men vowing never to be like their fathers. I remember one seventeen year old in particular who told me that his dad left when he was four and he would not leave this unborn baby now. I think of a man who slowly started slumping over as he told me he did not want an abortion but she did. He cried and shook his head as I encouraged him to tell her how he felt. In all these situations there were no easy words to share with them – every word was going to cost them something but I would sit with them there until we found their words. I am not sure what phrase should replace “It’s her choice,” but relationships are not one-sided and the men I met with were deeply moved by their partner’s pregnancy.
It is easy to assume that, since the man isn’t the one physically affected by a pregnancy, the man has no say in what actions the woman should take. Here at Advice and Aid Pregnancy Centers, we seek to give voice to male concerns.
We understand that the choice is ultimately the woman’s, but we offer a place where the man can be involved in the decision-making process. If you and your partner are seeking advice, a listening ear, or even a mediator, we can help! Set up an appointment today.