Men Recall the Pain and Turmoil of Abortion

His Side: Three men open up about the impact that abortion has had on their lives.

Generic image
Generic image Thinkstock

It was 1998, and I was 17 going on 18. I was in my senior of high school, and she was a junior. We just finished messing around, actually, and then she said, “I have something to tell you: I think I’m pregnant.” I was like, “What?” Before she even took the test, she started asking me what we were going to do. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about keeping it. I think I could’ve talked her out of an abortion. If I said things like I’d be a good father to the child or even if I told her I was against abortion, I feel she would’ve kept it.

But I think she also knew my situation: I started getting college acceptance letters, and I knew I was heading down South for school. She still had a year to go at a good Catholic school. Last but not least, to be honest, I didn’t want to deal with the consequence of telling my parents. The conversation teetered off to not doing it, but it went back quickly to us getting it done.

It cost $275. I paid for it by taking money from an account that my dad had set up for me. Only he was putting money into it. We went to this spot in the Bronx, N.Y. As we drove there, I asked her if she was OK, because, you know, it wasn’t my body about to go in for a medical procedure. Some guys don’t think about that, but I didn’t feel comfortable going inside with her, so I waited outside in the car. When she came back, she was in tears.

I had nightmares for a while after. It wasn’t consistent, but every now and then. Eventually, I even asked her if it was mine because my conscience was getting hit hard by the whole thing. I was looking for a way out. My dad accused me of stealing money, and I had to explain it was for a real reason. I wasn’t stealing it. I had no choice. His response wasn’t what I expected. For my dad, lying, cheating, and stealing are his cardinal sins, so he thought I committed one of those. But when I had an understandable motive, he let that part slide. I didn’t get in trouble. I wasn’t grounded. I guess he understood the magnitude of the situation I was in, and I guess he thought I was handling it with a certain level of maturity because I said I had to take care of it. He and I never talked about it again. He never even told my mother.

Lance, 47

Washington, D.C.

This was in 1992. I was 26. My girlfriend at the time and I already had children from previous marriages. She told me over the phone she was pregnant. I said, “Are you sure?” She was sure. She took a test. I was surprised and not happy. I felt betrayed, because I often suggested using protection and her thing always was, I’m telling you, I’m not trying to have a baby any more than you are. I thought precautions were being taken.

I said, “Hey, we don’t want any more kids, anyway.” She said, “Well, I’m not sure. It’s something I have to think about.” What it caused me to experience is powerlessness. All the power you have to create this situation—now you have no power to rectify it one way or another.

In terms of being supportive, I made it very clear I was not in support of bringing a baby into the world. That probably lasted for a week until she made her final decision. She was going to keep the baby. While I was not happy about it, at least it was a decision. I may as well come to grips with it, sooner rather than later, so I was accepting of it. Still, we broke up, because all the feelings of betrayal. I needed a break.  

I can’t remember how long it was; maybe a few weeks went by before she decided to change her mind. So now I’m faced with another mixture of feelings. I’m somewhat relieved, but then there’s suspicion, like, why was she sure two weeks ago? Was I the only possibility? But what it boiled down to was that we both weren’t in the best financial place because we were reeling from our own divorces. It wasn’t a good thing. I think what happens is the man tends to really walk that line very carefully with a woman. No matter what decision she makes, especially if she makes the decision you kind of wanted in the beginning, you can’t seem too joyous about it, and as  a matter of fact I wasn’t very joyous about it. So I was walking very carefully with this thing.