Pro-life advocates are all too aware of the damage abortion can do. Besides killing preborn children, their mothers often face unimaginable physical and emotional consequences. These complications may not be traced back to their abortion experience until years later. Yet Alliance for Life Ontario (AFLO) knows there is another demographic whose pain is often unacknowledged: the fathers of aborted children. AFLO executive director Jakki Jeffs told The Interim, “for 40 years, we have focused on the harm that abortion does to the mother and child,” and although this emphasis is essential, “we haven’t even glanced at the devastation in the male community…it’s an area we haven’t even looked at.”

Jeffs explained, “Men have been told that they have no voice, no right to say anything about abortion because women are the ones who carry children. Ask any man – he will say ‘it’s her body, so I can’t tell her what to do.” Although many have been harmed by abortion, they do not realize the extent of their suffering. Often, it is “masked with alcohol or drugs. (Men) can’t stay in relationships, and have no sense that the deep-seated wound of abortion is causing that.” Campaign Life Coalition reports that more than 4 million lives have been lost to abortion since the procedure was decriminalized in 1969. Since each of those children must have a father, at least four million men could be hurting as a result.

The American branch of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign has compiled a variety of post-abortion testimonies on their website. One such story, from a father who wished to remain anonymous, reads in part: “I think I have been far more in touch with my grief and deep sorrow for the life I helped to end. I think of my child that will never be on earth. I hate the self-deception and the falsehood I bought into. The pseudo-‘enlightened’ argument I groped for has actually proven to be the darkest moment of my life, filling me with unending ache and remorse.” His confession ends simply “I am still trying to forgive myself.”

AFLO is hosting a conference from June 11-13 in Niagara Falls, Ont., entitled “Men and Abortion: Reclaiming Fatherhood and Finding Peace,” at the Crowne Plaza. Featured speakers include executive director and CEO of Life Issues Institute Brad Mattes, co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and pastoral associate of Priests for Life Kevin Burke, and director of Florida’s Institute for Pregnancy Loss Vincent M. Rue.

Mattes told The Interim that he is “honoured to be part of this particular conference, because of the expertise of the faculty” and the “critically important” nature of the topic. His talk will focus on “the symptoms that men have” in the aftermath of an abortion, as well as why these symptoms occur and how healing can be found.

“God has wired a man’s brain to provide for and protect his family. In an abortion, serious damage is done to a man’s psyche” because he has not protected his family, Mattes explained. Most of all, Mattes will emphasize “making the baby real so he can grieve. Five million men in America alone are  seriously affected by abortion.” It is “critical that (the pro-life community creates) awareness about the plight these men have gone through. We must take them through the grief process, so they can be ambassadors and ensure other fathers don’t make the same tragic choice.”