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Letters, May 5, 2016 

Remember Me and Men Also Struggle With Abortion

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Remember Me
As to John Rasmuson's "Final Words" [Opinion, April 7, City Weekly], here's a verse from old graves in New England:

"Remember me as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, you soon shall be.
Prepare for death, and think of me."

Guy Holm
Salt Lake City

Men Also Struggle With Abortion
I read Giuliana Serena's cover story, "Voices for Choice," [March 23, City Weekly] and found it a very human treatment of some of the ways women arrive at the decision to get an abortion. But as is almost always the case in any discussion of abortion—for or against—it leaves something out. Sometimes a woman's (difficult, painful) decision to have an abortion is one she and an engaged, supportive partner have reached together. I have yet to hear any discussion of abortion honestly address the impact of such an experience on the father involved.

I recognize that all too often, the man who contributed to the pregnancy wants nothing to do with or is completely detached from the abortion—he abdicates his responsibility in the matter. But sometimes, the father is supportive and committed and wants to do everything he possibly can to make sure the mother's OK as she goes through this ... and, at least in my experience, he gets completely neglected in the process.

When I was in this situation, my then-girlfriend and I had only been together for less than two months when she told me with tears in her eyes that she was pregnant. We were both scared and a bit freaked out. We found that being pro-choice is far simpler as an abstraction than it is when you are the one having to actually make the choice. We talked it over. I thanked her for including me in the decision and told her I didn't feel it was my place to dictate to her how we would handle it, but that we could talk about it until she had a clear idea what she thought was best for her, and I would support that with everything I've got.

Ultimately, we opted to abort. I drove her to the procedure, but I was made to wait in the waiting room instead of holding her hand and supporting her like I wanted to. Afterward, I was allowed to sit with her in the recovery room. I paid for the procedure. When she was ready to leave, we left. Not once in the entire process did anyone ask if I was OK. Not even my girlfriend, that day or at any point thereafter, ever asked how I was handling the decision we made. I hadn't processed my feelings enough to recognize how much it was upsetting me, so I also never talked to her about it (although I did ask her how she was handling it at various times).

If openly discussing abortion experiences is the way to remove the stigma surrounding it, that conversation ought to recognize how men are affected as well. A lot of relationships end after an abortion (mine did, and to me the abortion played a role in that), but if people talked about it more openly perhaps that wouldn't be the case. I haven't told my family, but I have finally shared it with a few select friends, mostly elsewhere because my ex lives here and it isn't my place to expose her to people's reactions to the news that we aborted a pregnancy at the beginning of our relationship.

I'm not over it. I doubt I ever will be. I think about the decision we made every day of my life. We made the right decision under the circumstances, but I never want to face that decision again. Finally speaking honestly about it, even with just a few people, I've noticed that I no longer feel haunted by this destructive force undermining my relationships and my sense of my own future.
Name Withheld by request
Salt Lake City

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