The Elliot Institute News

From the Leader in Post-Abortion Research




Special Report:
Men and Abortion


This special issue of the Elliot Institute News looks at the impact of abortion on men through research, information from experts and stories from those who've been there.


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Men and Abortion


While researchers and mental health professionals are beginning to understand the many ways in which abortion exploits and harms women, the fields of research and outreach to men hurt by abortion are only beginning to be explored. This special edition of the Elliot Institute News looks at some of the available research and offers insights from those who work with men and men who have been there.


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Forgotten Fathers and Their Unforgettable Children


In the early 1970s, Arthur Shostak accompanied his partner to a well-groomed suburban abortion clinic. They had both agreed abortion was best. But sitting in the waiting room proved to be a "bruising experience." By the time he left the clinic, he was shocked by about how deeply disturbed he had become.


A professor of sociology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Shostak spent the subsequent ten years studying the abortion experience of men. His study included a survey of 1,000 men who accompanied their wives or girlfriends to abortion clinics.


Shostak's study was published in a book, Men and Abortion: Lessons, Losses and Love, in 1984. The value of this study is limited to reporting mostly the short term reactions of men to the pregnancy and the decision to abort.


In addition, because of the selection process, this study did not reflect the attitudes or experiences of men who did not accompany their partners to the abortion clinic--which could be because they were unaware of the pregnancy and abortion, because they were casual or unsupportive partners, or because they were opposed to the abortion. Despite these significant limitations, Shostak's study, using the largest group of men ever surveyed about their abortions, is still the benchmark study in this understudied field.


Shostak reported that the majority of the men surveyed in clinic waiting rooms felt isolated, angry at their partners or themselves, and were concerned about the physical and emotional damage abortion might cause their partner.

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Learn more: Read about the latest study on abortion's impact on men's relationships.


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The Impact of Abortion on Men

What the Research Says


When people think about the role of men in abortion, it seems that they usually think about the stereotype of the man who forces the abortion or the male who abandons. However, there are many roles the man may have played in the experience. One man may have been involved in several abortions, each with a different scenario. The impact on fathers is mitigated by the role they play in the abortion. They fall into separate categories.

If you are a caregiver, you need to know that sometimes the man makes contact with a caregiver under the guise of seeking help for his partner or trying to understand what his partner is experiencing. If he is looking for materials about the aftermath of abortion, ask if this is for himself or for a partner. If it is for a partner, you can ask, "Are you the father?"

This is hard for him to discuss, but it is critical to acknowledge that men can struggle after an abortion loss. You can ask, "How can I be of help to you?" You may also be able to ask at some point if this is his first abortion experience. Listening to him can be an enormous gift.

A man can come to recognize that an abortion experience touched him in many different ways. Each man has his own unique story but there seem to be some common elements.


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Learn More: Visit our men and abortion page for articles, personal stories and links to resources.


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Men Can Be Victims of Coercion, Too

Research, Stories Show Plight of Men Who Want to Support Their Partners and Unborn Children


Men have no legal say when it comes to abortion, and often little opportunity to support their partners and unborn children. Men and teenage boys who don't want the abortion may be silenced, left out of the discussion, or be victims of coercion along with their partners.


Research suggests that most abortions are unwanted or coerced. For example, a survey of women who had abortions, published in the Medical Science Monitor, found that 64 percent of American respondents reported feeling pressured to abort.


Sometimes, the source of pressure is the woman's male partner. But the results of an online survey, published in The Journal of Pregnancy, found that 47.8 percent of women who underwent later abortions and 30.5 percent of women who had earlier abortions said that they were pressured by someone other than their partner to abort.

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Post-Abortion Trauma in Men Still Overlooked

Catherine Coyle, Ph.D.


[More than thirty] years have passed since the legalization of abortion in the United States. In those years, numerous studies have documented the potential negative effects of abortion on women. The effects of abortion on men however have been largely ignored by both the scientific community and American society.

The few published studies concerning men suggest that, like women, men may experience grief,1 anxiety, guilt, helplessness,2 and anger.3 The fact that men tend to repress their emotions may also make it more difficult for them to resolve their grief.4

Even men who support their partner's abortion may experience ambivalent feelings such as relief along with anxiety, anguish, grief, and guilt.5 About half of the men interviewed by these authors reported that one year after the abortion occurred, they still had frequent (monthly) thoughts about it.6

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Learn more: Visit the Thomas W. Strahan Memorial Library at for a bibliography of additional studies on men and abortion.


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"That Day Ripped My Gut Out"

One Man's Story


For every woman who has had an abortion a man has been involved. For me it was two abortions.

I think that because we live in such a visual world where we can't see the baby from conception, it just doesn't seem real. I know this may seem like a simple analogy, but ... we cannot see corn that was just planted; yet, that doesn't make it any less a vegetable.

My story begins at 16 when I heard that first "I'm pregnant" from my girlfriend.

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Reprinted with permission from the Fatherhood Forever web site,


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Additional Resources


Free Resources

Additional articles and research on men and abortion

Father's Day ad/flyer

Healing Resources

Links to groups offering counseling and support for men after abortion


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