When I hear people debate pro-life versus pro-choice, I often wonder who in the argument has experienced an abortion. As with most debatable topics, it is easy to get into if you’ve never actually had to face it.
A couple years ago I decided to share my experience with abortion on my own blog. The title of the post was “Abortion: What It Feels Like for a Man.” Plenty of people told me the title made them raise an eyebrow in skepticism, but after reading it, they realized I had the right to share my experience.
Recently, New York Magazine took a similarly personal approach to the pro-life/pro-choice discussion by publishing a cover story called “My Abortion.” The writer, Meaghan Winter, talked to 26 women who opened up about what they went through, some of whom also agreed to be photographed. Winter writes:
“Abortion is something we tend to be more comfortable discussing as an abstraction; the feelings it provokes are too complicated to face in all their particularities. Which is perhaps why, even in doggedly liberal parts of the country, very few people talk openly about the experience, leaving the reality of abortion, and the emotions that accompany it, a silent witness in our political discourse.”
Her piece is a powerful and provocative framework for discussing this highly charged issue, and it brought back feelings of my story, and the way I felt after I shared it. It happened more than 11 years ago, the summer in between my sophomore and junior years of college, and while I don’t think about it everyday, like I once did, I have never forgotten it.
The New York Magazine story mentions a startling statistic: One in three women has an abortion by the age of 45. What the article doesn’t mention is that every single one of them involves a man. I understand that there are many men who are the enemy to abortion rights, enacting legislation that makes it more difficult for women to do what they decide is best for their lives and their bodies. But we can be allies, too, standing beside women and, in some cases, standing up for them and their right to choose. We can listen, and though not understand the pain they feel, emotionally and mentally, we can be in concert with a woman because we know what it feels like to be a part of that decision.
I talked to three men who graciously shared their sides of an abortion story. This is not an easy topic for guys to discuss. For the men who did open up, all of them asked to change their name, just like some women did in the New York Magazine story. I obliged, but I hope as a result of hearing these men, more guys are willing to step up and interject some personal experience in the politics. Women need to know that we feel an abortion, too.
New York City