Few men seek help
from abortion grief, guilt
By John W. Kennedy
As a church youth
leader, Jerry Little had long preached about the evils of abortion.
He and his wife, Debbie, repeatedly opened their home to young,
unwed soon-to-be mothers, declaring that a baby, no matter how
conceived, is always important in God’s eyes.
But Jerry Little’s
belief system cracked when his unmarried 18-year-old daughter,
Candy, became pregnant. Upon learning that physical abuse was
involved in her relationship, he convinced himself that only
an abortion could resolve the dilemma.
The young mother,
however, didn’t want an abortion.
“I told her
with these special circumstances she just had to have an abortion,”
Little says of the 1993 incident. “That pathetic statement
was the sickest thing I ever said.”
drove his daughter from their Amarillo, Texas, home to Lubbock.
He could have turned around at any of the eight towns they went
through on the 120-mile journey. Yet he didn’t. Once they
went inside the facility, his daughter became so distraught
a nurse refused to let her see the abortionist.
Little and his daughter
returned two days later.
“I kept thinking
this situation was somehow different,” Little says. “Although
my daughter continued to cry uncontrollably, this time the abortionist
took my money.”
When Candy returned
to the waiting room she vacantly gazed at her father and passively
said, “Let’s go.” For the next two years,
the Little family nearly disintegrated as they kept the abortion
While pregnancy care
centers began providing post-abortive syndrome counseling soon
after Roe v. Wade became
law, spiritual and psychological healing for men is not commonly
promoted. The handful of organizations that exist to help men
overcome abortion grief are typically operated on a shoestring
budget by a part-time staff.
Warren L. Williams,
who in the past 25 years has counseled 250 post-abortive men
as founder of Fathers & Brothers Ministries International
in Boulder, Colo., estimates that only 4,000 American men have
gone through any kind of healing study in the past decade. The
walking wounded are plentiful because more than a million abortions
take place in this nation annually. When a baby’s father
refuses responsibility, the woman’s father, brother, uncle
or platonic friend sometimes steps in to finance the abortion.
Few Christian men
talk about abortions they bankroll, according to Olivia Gans,
director of American Victims of Abortion, a branch of the National
Right to Life Committee in Washington, D.C. “Men no longer
know their duties and responsibilities as fathers,” Gans
says. “Modern guys have been taught that the honorable
thing is to get out of the way and let the woman make the decision,
or pay for the abortion and make sure she gets there on time.
Still, the father’s influence is the single most powerful
factor in whether a baby lives or dies.”
While a first-year
university student, Stephen Arterburn impregnated a co-ed, and
then badgered her into believing that she only had one option.
“I helped pay for the abortion because it was the convenient
thing,” Arterburn admits. “Only afterwards did I
realize that I had essentially paid to have my own child murdered.”
of the Laguna Beach, Calif.-based New Life Ministries, subsequently
suffered through a life-threatening 83 ulcers. Now 50, he says
he didn’t fully come to terms with what he had done until
18 years later, after he and his wife, Sandy, adopted a baby.
Some men are dealing
with the antithesis: a girlfriend who aborted the child without
the father’s sanction, or sometimes, even knowledge. While
a man and a woman create a baby, only one party has a legal
decision for an abortion. Three decades ago seven men on the
U.S. Supreme Court decided that a woman is the autonomous decision-maker.
The repressed angst
that men have manifests itself in an array of societal woes,
according to Williams.
been anyone who has gone through the healing process with me
who didn’t express a deep level of anger toward themselves
and others involved in the abortion process,” says Williams,
56, who has authored a post-abortive Bible-study training manual.
Experts who have
counseled men repeatedly see more symptoms besides guilt and
depression. The aftermath, both in men who pushed for an abortion
and those who fought it, often includes inability to form a
lasting relationship, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, nightmares,
fits of rage, suicidal behavior and fear of having more children.
Although he steadfastly
maintained the abortion’s necessity, two years later Jerry
Little agreed to his daughter’s request to go through
a Bible study and counseling at the CareNet Crisis Pregnancy
Centers of Amarillo. He grasped the immorality of his actions,
admitted his guilt, prayed for God’s forgiveness and experienced
“I had kept
thinking those two years that I was supposed to protect her,”
Little says. “But no one could have abused her as much
as I did because I took her to get an abortion.”
Little, who is a
construction crew manager, has individually led four men through
a 12- to 16-week post-abortive Bible study that deals with denial,
anger, forgiveness, depression and acceptance.
“There is not
some magic pill to make this better,” Gans says. “Emotionally
these men are grappling with a death experience.”
Anne Pierson, 61,
executive director of Loving & Caring in Lancaster, Pa.,
says men don’t want to appear “weak” so they
rarely seek guidance without prodding by the woman. “Men
like to keep abortion a women’s issue, but it’s
not,” Pierson says.
The healing can be
transformational. For instance, Little’s daughter is now
director of the Amarillo pregnancy center where she and her
father found help eight years ago. Ignoring the pain doesn’t
make it go away.
make a decision to kill one of your own species it’s going
to have a profound effect on you,” Arterburn says. “Men
have to accept Christ’s forgiveness — and forgive
themselves — if they don’t want to struggle with
this guilt forever.”