Saturday, October 23, 2010

This Week: Let's Talk About Sex....and Abortion

Since we were old enough to take sex education classes at school, or have “the talk” with our parents, we’ve discussed pregnancy, and abortion, too. We've experienced first-hand, or consoled a friend through the distress, confusion, shame and depression that accompany this decision. Aside from the political and religious pressures surrounding the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate, there are often familial and societal pressures that play into a woman's decision to abort her pregnancy. But, since it takes two to do the cliche tango, what role do men play in all of this? Some men feel that they have a right to have a significant role to play in the decision-making process. But others, like a college grad I recently spoke with on the issue, argue that “a man can voice his opinion, but it inevitably is the woman’s decision.”

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is sometimes only the beginning of the end. While women face symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression, men are left with feelings of inadequacy and emasculation. Men and women both experience declines in sexual libido and communication, and a sense of partnership is often lost. In fact, post-abortion studies have shown that 40 to 75 percent of romantic relationships end after a woman has an abortion. Another young man I spoke with believes that people don't think about these possibilities until it's too late, and wishes more would realize that "if you're brave enough to take on the risks [of unprotected sex] then you're brave enough to handle the consequences." 


*Names have been changed.


  1. Thank you for this post.
    Just wanted to add a clarification. You mention, "While women face symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder..."

    That statement has been proven to be untrue on a population basis:

    "The preponderance of evidence from well-designed and well-executed studies indicates that abortion is safe over the long term and carries little or no risk of fertility related problems, cancer or psychological illnesses... Leaders in the antiabortion community have attempted to document a link between abortion and fertility issues, breast cancer and a phenomenon they call “postabortion traumatic stress syndrome,” something they claim has traits similar to posttraumatic stress disorder but which is not recognized by either the American Psychological Association (APA) or the American Psychiatric Association. They have founded organizations to promote quasi-academic studies supporting these claims, and although these studies remain on the fringe of the scientific community, they have influenced policy at the state level."
    From Boonstra H, Gold RB, Richards C and Finer LB, Abortion in Women’s Lives, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2006. Available:

  2. I think you are perpetuating misconceptions about post-abortion mental health. Perhaps we should consider that people are more likely to have an abortion if they are dating someone with whom they don't see long term potential (hence relationships ending shortly afterwords).
    There is some good information about post-abortion mental health here:

    The gist is this:
    “The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.”

  3. I was adopted! I am so grateful for the unselfish choice that my biological mother made to choose to give me a better chance. Granted my father still took off and I have mental health issues that are biological etc etc- but I am pretty awesome! My mother is awesome and my little brother who was also adopted ya he is pretty great too. I often wonder why in public health NO ONE pushes (yes I used the word pushes) adoption!? Furthermore black people and adoption doesn't go over well. I would imagine history and slavery might have something to do with that. . . (hopefully you can sense my tone). It is so interesting because it was not until I moved to DC that I am constantly badgered with questions and comments like "well your mother is not your blood" or random whackness that I never heard until I moved here. I personally hope to adopt myself. Anyone (well most) can make a baby- being a parent is another story. I am pro-choice but really push for life!


“Ultimately, happiness rests on how you establish a solid sense of self or being. Happiness does not lie in outward appearances nor in vanity. It is a matter of what you feel inside; it is a deep resonance in your life. To be filled each day with a rewarding sense of exhilaration and purpose, a sense of tasks accomplished and deep fulfillment- people who feel this way are happy. Those who have this sense of satisfaction even if they are extremely busy are much happier than those who have time on their hands but feel empty inside.” – Daisku Ikeda