Difficult Topics: Men and Abortion

Men and Abortion

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Lorelei Yang718
Wonky consultant with a passion for words
May 24, 2024 at 5:21PM UTC
It takes two to tango, and two to land yourselves in a situation where you're contemplating an abortion. However, at the end of the day, an abortion is a medical procedure that's performed on only one party: the woman. 
So, some questions may arise for you and your partner you if you're considering an abortion. Namely, how can you find a quality provider, can your partner be in the room during the procedure and how can you and your partner deal with the emotional ramifications of the decision?

The facts

First, you'll want to deal with the practical considerations around getting an abortion. This includes finding a provider, paying for the procedure and working out the logistics of whether your partner can be in the room during the procedure (assuming the two of you agree that you'd like him in the room).

Finding a quality provider

First and most importantly, you want to make sure you find a trustworthy, quality abortion provider who'll ensure that you're taken care of. Abortion Care Network notes that the quality of care can vary widely among all medical facilities, and since many women don't discuss their abortion experiences publicly, it can be all the harder to know what to look for when choosing a clinic. With this in mind, Abortion Care Network suggests: 1) getting a referral from someone you trust, 2) calling or visiting the clinic(s) you're interested in and asking about their services in advance and 3) choosing a clinic that makes you feel comfortable.
Some Planned Parenthood health centers offer in-clinic abortions. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) offers an online provider map and a referral hotline (1-877-257-0012) which provides referrals to members clinics in both the U.S. and Canada. This hotline can also provide help if you've been diagnosed with a fetal anomaly or need specialized later abortion care.

Choosing the right abortion procedure.

Abortion Care Network notes that abortions come in two types: medical (i.e., the abortion pill) and surgical. It's important to choose a clinic that offers the type of abortion you prefer and which is able to provide services to you at the point in your pregnancy that you're at. 
Surgical abortion is typically not performed before 5-6 weeks' gestation and involves consulting, obtaining your medical history and lab work before the procedure. After surgery, you'll need ample recovery time.
Medical abortion (i.e., non-surgical abortion or the abortion pill) is performed early in pregnancy and requires a two-week follow-up afterward. Medical abortion is typically performed up to 9-10 weeks' gestation.

Paying for an abortion

Planned Parenthood notes that the cost of an abortion depends on a number of variables, including where you get it (hospitals are often more expensive than clinics), whether your health insurance will cover some (or even all) of the cost and how long you've been pregnant (while a first-trimester abortion can cost less than $1,500, a second-trimester abortion usually costs more).
Some health insurance plans will pay either in whole or part for an abortion, while others won't — calling your insurance provider directly to clarify their policies before going in for your abortion is your best bet to understand your policy's coverage.
If you're on a government health insurance plan, such as Medicaid, it'll cover abortion in some states, but not in others. Additionally, in some states, Medicaid may cover abortion only in certain cases (such as rape or incest). If you're unclear about your government health insurance plan's abortion coverage, you can contact your local Planned Parenthood for more information about coverage in your state and to learn about other funds that can help you pay for an abortion. 
Additionally, you can call the NAF's information hotline (1-800-772-9100) for additional information about abortion and financial assistance resources.

Can men be in the room?

Abortion Conversation Projects reports that allowing male partners' presence during abortion counseling, the procedure itself or recovery is an option that some clinics offer. If this is important to you and your partner, be sure to call and ask about this issue before making an appointment. 

The emotions.

In addition to practical considerations, it's important to bear in mind that abortion can be a deeply emotional event. Understanding the emotions that abortion may raise can help you and your partner cope with these feelings.

Common feelings that follow.

There are many possible emotional responses after an abortion. Abortion Conversation Projects notes that often, the first reaction is relief that the crisis of the situation is over. However, it's also not unusual to have feelings of sadness, guilt, anger or feeling "bad."

Signs of poor emotional coping

If either you or your partner is experiencing sleep disturbances, loss of appetite or inability to concentrate, these could be signs of trouble coping. Similarly, if either if you feel sadness or guilt that's not abating or is continuing to worry that you did the wrong thing, calling your abortion provider to see if they offer or can refer for post-abortion counseling may help you access additional coping resources.

"I never agreed with the abortion."

Assuming your choice to pursue an abortion was a shared decision between you and your partner, him backtracking after the fact and claiming that he didn't agree to the abortion would be deeply unfair to you. Should this situation occur to you, the most important thing is not to blame yourself. Secondarily, you can be supportive of your partner's likely complicated feelings about the abortion — but you should also remind him of the reasons for the abortion.

Moving forward

First, it's important to understand what it means to "move forward" rather than to "move on." While "moving on" implies leaving the past behind without processing it, "moving forward" implies incorporating your real grief and sadness in order to come to acceptance and a new sense of normal. Post-abortion, your new sense of normal will likely include a new facet of your identity as a woman who has had an abortion.
To help yourself move forward after an abortion, the blog What's Your Grief? (WYG) suggests finding a mental and emotional space to be with your personal experience, apart from the politics of abortion discussions. To this end, Trudy Johnson, author of the book C.P.R.: Choice Processing and Resolution, proposed renaming abortion voluntary pregnancy termination (VPT). She argues that the "A-word" brings up too many charged feelings due to its religious and political history, so it's helping to use the term VPT when reflecting on your personal experience, so as to differentiate the personal journey from the politics. Regardless of whether that's an effective strategy for you, considering your abortion in an individual, personal and unique way is the first step towards seeing yourself apart from the abortion rhetoric.

Should men have a say?

Opinions on whether men should have a say in their partners' choices to have abortions vary widely. Around the world, courts, philosophers, individuals and varied political groups have divergent opinions on whether — and how — men have the right to influence their partners' abortion decisions. What do you think? Should men have a say in their partners' decisions to have abortions? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Lorelei Yang is a New York-based consultant and freelance writer/researcher. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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