As the chaplain of Teen Challenge of Central Canada and executive director of the Lighthouse Mission in Calgary Alta., 45-year-old Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada minister Rev. Scott Miller found that many of the men he counsels were, what could be called, the “forgotten victims of abortion.” Miller even decided to make this issue the subject of his dissertation, “Bringing Post-Abortive Men to a Place of Healing” while studying for his doctorate of ministry at Providence Theological Seminary in Otterburne, Man.
Teen Challenge is the ministry started by Rev. David Wilkerson, author of one of the most famous and bestselling books in modern Christian literature, The Cross and the Switchblade. The Teen Challenge Ministry was started by Wilkerson to help young men overcome serious substance addictions through the power of belief in Jesus Christ.
As Miller was counselling the young men under his care, he found that many of them had been involved in the abortion of their unborn children. This involvment took many forms and each carried with it a potential legacy of hurt and pain; that is:
- They encouraged or supported the woman’s decision to have an abortion.
- They pressured her to abort.
- They abandoned her to make the decision alone.
- They didn’t agree with the decision to abort, but went along with it, because it was her body and it’s what she seemed to want.
- They tried to stop her having an abortion but couldn’t.
- They learned about the abortion only after it happened, not knowing their partner was pregnant, and therefore never had any input regarding the decision.
Miller found that significantly more men involved with abortion, rather than men who’s wives or partners carried to term and gave birth, reported poor relationships with either or both parents, a more unhappy childhood, more psychiatric illnesses in their family and a higher incidence of alcoholism, drug dependency, neurosis, and compulsive gambling.
Miller’s research shows that the majority of men in abortuary waiting rooms feel isolated, angry at their partners and themselves, and-or concerned about the physical and emotional damage the abortion might cause their partners.
According to the law, men have few rights to protect their offspring, and this for some is a cause for anger. Propaganda that talks about abortion being “a woman’s choice” effectively excludes men from the decision-making, and many men who feel isolated from the decision (especially if they are opposed to the abortion) feel emasculated and powerless.
Some men do offer and seek to provide both financial and emotional support to their partner or wife and child, but she may have a low attachment to the unborn child, and has possibly placed other considerations ahead of having a family or another child at the time. This can be hurtful for a man and very difficult to deal with.
Many factors influence how a man will respond to an abortion – his background, values and beliefs, the part he has played in the decision and the actual process, current situation and ambitions. Thoughts and feelings before or after an abortion depend on whether or not he allows himself to get in touch with his feelings surrounding the pregnancy and abortion, and realizes what the abortion means in real terms. This realization may not happen till later in life, when his situation and circumstances change, for example, to include a family.
Men can be affected by abortion in similar ways to women and many have reported post-abortion problems such as:
- feelings of grief and helplessness
- feelings of guilt and shame
- sexual dysfunction
- substance abuse
- self-esteem and confidence problems
- fear of relationships
- increased risk-taking and suicidal behaviour
- greater tendencies to becoming angry or violent
- a sense of lost manhood
Because of the culture of machismo prevalent in male society, speaking about the effects of abortion is an even greater taboo for men than for women. If a man wants to grieve, he had better do it privately. If he feels that the abortion has denied him his child, he had better work it through himself. Typical male grief includes remaining silent and grieving alone. In the silence, a man can harbour guilt and doubts about his ability to protect himself and those he loves. Some become depressed and-or anxious, others controlling, demanding and directing. Still others become enraged and failure in any relationship can trigger hostility from their disenfranchised grief. A guilt-ridden, tormented man does not easily love or accept love.
As a result of his 14 years of working with post-abortive men, Miller has reached out to other ministries, such as Rachel’s Vineyard and pro-life organizations like League for Life, to bring the plight of post-abortive men into the light. It was League for Life that invited Miller to be a featured speaker at the upcoming Life 2004 annual pro-life conference taking place in Winnipeg Oct. 14-16.
At the conference, Miller will be conducting a workshop entitled, “A Healing Model for Post-Abortion Men Using the 12-Step Method” and presenting the therapeutic methodology of his new ministry, “House of Esau.” This model of ministry believes that the most important part of recovery from post-abortion trauma is forgivness. Forgiveness both of self, and the one whom the man feels is most responsible for his plight – his partner, who actually went through with the abortion.
It seems that not only women and unborn children are victims of this act, but men too are victims – the forgotten victims.