Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Abortion - Kid Rock, Reasons for, Men and Adoption

I started replying to the debate at Colm Bracken’s post on infactah in the comments, but moved it here after it reached a certain word count.

There were a few things I wanted to reply to so here goes –
So starting with Sinead’s comment
I agree that abortion should never be used as a form of contraception, but anyone I know who has had one wasn't for something as glib as having their "lifestyle disrupted". What about contraceptive breakdown?
As a famous woman once said, if men were the ones getting pregnant, abortions would be like a lunchtime visit to the dentist.
And then her 2nd comment
Men should never be excluded from having a say on abortion and I don't doubt they are affected as much. However, until men have the ability to carry children, they can pontificate about abortion from the comfortable position of never having to have one. The last remark - as I pointed out - was not made by me, I was paraphrasing a quote (by Susan B. Anthony possibly?) and I think there is a certain amount of truth to it.
and her other comment
Also, no one has mentioned the number of women (6,000-7,000) travelling to the UK for abortions every year - any proposals on how we address this?
And then Colm
Yes, it's appalling that so many have to travel to the UK. But unless abortion on demand is legalised here, this will continue.I would really like to get my hands of information/data that gives us a better view as to why women feel the need to abort their pregnancies.
And PmcC’s final comment
As men it is much easier to say 'I am against abortion on demand' when you will never have to make the decision.

Okay, just cutting and pasting has taken me 10 minutes.
So quick points –
Abortion, contraception and lifestyle – most women who I know who have had abortions, had them because of contraceptive failure. That fact in itself, questions the wisdom of solely relying on contraception to reduce the abortion rate. But contraceptive failure leads to pregnancy which leads to lifestyle disruption, which is not a glib response but rather a reflection of why a woman feels she needs an abortion, as way of out of that disruption and “back” into her life, as she had planned it.
We all plan our lives to some extent or another and becoming pregnant has a funny way of tearing that plan asunder.
Studies into the psychological reasons and decision making processes for choosing abortion have found that it is the concept of life disruption, of loss of her own “life” or so perceived, plays a major role in deciding to have an abortion. (I can’t find the exact reference that discuss this concept at the minute but will look it up if you don’t trust me!) This is not a negative reflection on the woman who makes the undoubtably difficult decision to abort, but rather an insight to the turmoil she’s feeling. From a sociological perspective, it shows us how we can prevent the loss of life her child and the hurt she might experience, by addressing her needs.

As for Sinead’s possible Susan B Anthony quote – not only is it definitely not from her as this quote is – she was fervently pro-life, as were many of the early feminists and suffragettes –
Not only did she refer to abortion as “child murder”  she also said  - "Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!"

And the men and abortion link – men too feel hurt from abortion.
Because of this blog’s obsession with music, I can refer you to a song about abortion from a man’s perspective – none other than the Kid Rock himself - Abortion, from A History of Rock (who I view as a guilty pleasure).
Kid Rock’s high school girlfriend, who he later married, underwent an abortion while teenager. His pain, guilt and frustration are expressed in the violent terms of his desire to commit suicide to meet his aborted son and his drug abuse to hide or numb these feelings.
“Living in the shadows of a man I've never seen dreaming like a lonely child, I know your brothers and your sister and your mother too, Man, I wish you could see them too”
“I'm dying in the shadows of this man I've never seen, I'll see you soon now where's my gun?”
“Let me open your eyes, Let me see who you are, I am you, you are me”
“You know you make me so lonely, I am so alone……and I will pray and then I'll cry”

In another life, I presented this very topic at a conference on abortion – men and abortion. I just have the paper references (but will look for the hyperlink references sometime tomorrow)

Men can have a number of positions in the abortion decision making process. They can encourage or support the woman to choose abortion; pressure her to abort; abandon her to make the decision alone; unsuccessfully oppose the abortion; or learn about the abortion only after it has been done.
The last option – of only learning about the abortion after it has happened, happens in 15-20% of cases – and this isolation can really intensify the fathers’ pain.
“They felt isolated from the decision and especially if they opposed the abortion - emasculated and powerless.” (Shostak A, McLouth G, Seng L Men and Abortion New York: Praeger, 1984)
1 small Italian study had some interesting findings - 90% of men reported fear, anxiety, and tension after the abortion with 20% being affected by long term painful memories. The effect of abortion on relationship is very deleterious with 50% of relationships suffering serious breakdown and in 16% of cases the final break up was attributed directly to the abortion.  (Schelotto G, Arcuri C.  “Supposing It Hurt Me Too? Abortion: the Anguish Experienced by Men”  IPPF Eur Reg Inf. 1986 Spring;15(1):25-34)

And this excellently written article on abortion from the male perspective sheds a very different light on abortion.  From that article –
By the time I turned 23, I had already denied five children their lives through abortions…

On the morning of the abortion, as my lover was being prepared for the procedure, she refused my hand, choosing instead to hold another woman's, her sister's. I felt useless and unwanted. It was only then I realized that abortion was not just like putting stitches on an open wound. Abortion itself was a wound - a wound that needed time for physical, psychological and emotional healing.
I don't think any state legislature should determine what a woman does with her body……for many of the women I have been intimate with, pro-choice was, I believe, a euphemism for pro-abortion. Their decisions to abort were rapid and seemingly made without real reflection. I was rarely consulted.
I am not taking a moral posture. My story is a personal meditation shaped by clinics, deep love I've known and concern about my sometimes-too-carefree attitude toward life.

I have loads more on this topic but am feeling the tumbleweed roll around my brain so will leave it at this.

So just the reasons why women have abortion.
Colm will be delighted, I’m sure, to find out that there’s mountains of research on that very question, including the Women and Crisis Pregnancy carried out in Trinity in 1998. (Not available online though)
The main reasons cited in this study for abortion were career, job-related and educational concerns, the stigma of lone motherhood, the needs of the child, financial worries and feelings of not being ready or not being able to cope.
Other international studies have echoed these reasons – so the reasons pushing women into abortion are roughly similar. In fact 1 of these studies found that 47% of women would not have had an abortion if she had support from her partner (Husfeldt C et al Ambivalence among women applying for abortion. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1995 Nov;74(10):813-7)
I’ve the references for all these studies, if you’re interested. Or just obsessed with studies like me.

Just quickly on adoption, the Irish Women and Crisis Pregnancy Study found that most women felt that they would not be able to part with the baby afterwards if they continued with the pregnancy.  It was complicated and an unsure outcome compared to abortion.
Those who chose adoption felt that it was not necessarily the end of the relationship with child and that they were making a childless couple happy – which really should make us more aware and active in creating open adoption situations etc.
This view of adoption is again common in international literature – women tend to view it as a worse alternative than abortion, mainly because of the attachment they felt to the child and felt that the circumstances necessary to continue the pregnancy and give birth were not available to them.



Anonymous Sinéad said...

Auds, I still can't remember or find who made that quote as I'm up to my eyes this week. I have a feeling it's a writer (Fay Weldon possibly).

It's great to have this debate even though we share polarised views. Perhaps though, you would follow up with some of the posters (male) who have agreed with my points about the male point of view? You mention PMc's comment, which refers to what I was trying to say, and I'd be interested to hear your views on what he and Paul have to say.

I appreciate the links on men and abortion (not sure if Kid Rock is the best reference) but again, all of this information addresses how men feel when women have abortions - not how they'd feel if it was up to them to physically carry children and have abortions. This distinctly colours their attitude to the issue.

As I asked Colm, who is also pro-life, what do you think can be done to address the issue of up to 7,000 women going to the UK for abortions?

Again though, thanks for all the time you've put in to these posts.

I'm not around much today Auds and I know we could debate this for decades, so let's have a pint at the blog awards and exchange views. We'll rope in Colm and Fiona too!

February 09, 2006 10:52 a.m.  
Blogger Boliath said...

The quote Sinead may have been thinking of "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." is by Florynce Kennedy

February 10, 2006 4:17 p.m.  
Blogger FauxClaud said...

Before you go and think that adoption is a great alternative to should hear what mothers of adoption loss have to say about it. It's not so pretty.
The long term ramifications of adoption loss can give abortion greif a run for the money.
Granted a child is alive and maybe that is the main goal of some, but you often cut out the heart and soul of the mother and make her one of the walking dead.

February 13, 2006 6:46 a.m.  

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