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Abortion: Whatever happened to fathers and sex?

Posted by Daniel Blackman on 17 July 2013

Last month I was in Ireland for a wedding. During a quiet moment I picked up a copy of the Irish Independent, a leading broadsheet newspaper in Ireland. There were several articles on abortion, including one on the recent vigil for life.

The journalist, Ann-Marie Hourihane, doesn't sound like a dyed in the wool pro-lifer. However, one of her paragraphs was, I think, perceptive. Here it is:

"When a recorded message from John McAreavey... appeared on the screens, the first thing he said was,'We must never forget our responsibility to support women with crisis pregnancies.' Of the men also responsible for these so-called crisis pregnancies there was no discernible mention, all afternoon. The ostensible shift of emphasis to caring for, rather than castigating, the unmarried pregnant girl has created a strange anti-abortion world. On Saturday there was no mention of sex. To listen to the speeches – even the speech of Edel Best of Women Hurt [by abortion] who, like John McAreavey, is a Northerner – and to read the literature here, you would think that there had been more than one virgin birth in history."

There are a couple of things to point out. First, according to the article, there wasn't much said about fathers who get their girlfriends pregnant, or the fathers of children who are aborted. There might be a selfish man telling his girlfriend she has to get rid of the child. There might be a father saying he'll support whatever decision the mother decides to take. There might be a father who doesn't even realise he has fathered a child, and might not be told until after the abortion. There might even be a man who does not want his girlfriend to have an abortion, but is powerless to prevent her having one (I say girlfriend, as 80% of abortions are sought by unmarried mothers who have a boyfriend).

What do pro-lifers have to say and offer to these men, in comparison to what is offered to pregnant mothers. Yet the role of the father, according to the comments of at least one leading pro-life pregnancy centre in London, is often the driving force that finds pregnant mothers on the doorstep of abortionists. Have pro-lifers become too focused on the "pro-woman" slogan such that fathers are effectively forgotten? Take a look at the banners and placards at pro-life marches - practically every single one is of a baby or a baby and mother, there is no sign of fathers anywhere. What, if anything, do we as pro-lifers have to say about men and fathers?

The second point about the article above is to do with sex - it isn't talked about in the pro-life context very much. Thankfully, SPUC has published a briefing and a background paper on contraceptives that can cause an abortion. SPUC has also campaigned against TV adverts promoting condoms, and SPUC continues to campaign against harmful types of sex education in primary schools. The killing of an innocent unborn child will often be the final step in a chain of actions - but most pro-lifers don't tend to talk about that. They may think that they are so far removed as to be a distraction or even something that alienates potential supporters. However, this sort of thinking is not found amongst the ordinary public.

On so many occasions - via email, or on the street, or door-to-door, or in schools, you get the question "if you're against abortion then surely you must be in favour of contraception" or you'll hear the comment "you've got to get the young people to stop having sex, that's fuelling all these abortions". Common sense dictates that sex, pregnancy and abortion are intricately linked. To argue otherwise is wilfully naive. To carry on the pretence that remaining silent on these things is a clever thing to do, a winning strategy, is to deny that the truth is convincing. Perhaps it's more a statement about one's inability, or courage, or both, to argue, explain, defend, and educate people.

Babies don't drop out of the sky and into the wombs of unmarried women between the ages of 18 and 25. You can watch people sprinting towards the edge of a cliff to jump off. You can either stand near the edge and hope to talk them out of it, or you can go out to meet them before they get too close and talk to them there, explaining that sprinting towards a cliff edge is a very bad idea.

If you know mothers or fathers who need help, or need support following an abortion, there are organisations that provide these services.

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