For years, our culture has promoted a not-so-positive definition of a man, father and husband.
The crucial role of men in society and the family has been sidelined for many reasons. Whether men feel their diminished importance is due to forces outside of themselves, or they just lack the desire to live up to their God-given responsibilities, the bottom line is, too often, the voices of men have been silent in the life decision.
Instilled within every man are the desires and capabilities to be a father—a provider and protector of his family. But 42 years and tens of millions of abortions this side of Roe v. Wade have left many men in a position of passivity and indecisiveness, confused and helpless when it comes to the most basic duty of protecting their own preborn children.
Meanwhile, legalized abortion provides an escape hatch of sorts for men who are unwilling to accept the responsibility to care for the life they have helped to create. Others, threatening to leave or even physically harm the mother of their child in order to avoid fatherhood, coerce their partner into aborting her preborn child against her will.
In either case—by becoming a passive participant rather than an active protector, or by becoming an active aggressor rather than a loving provider for his family—men in these cases are going against the grain of their own God-given design.
Starting even in the days leading up to Roe v. Wade, an established strategy of the abortion lobby emerged, framing the issue as a “War on Women” and condemning any dissenting male voice simply on the basis of his gender. This was on full display in the California State Senate, for example, when one senator issued the following challenge in the lead-up to the State Senate’s approval of the so-called “Reproductive FACT Act”: “When you have a uterus, come talk to me. Before then, leave it up to the women.”
Since it’s “not your body” it’s “not your choice,” men are told. In the public sphere, this line of reasoning is used as a trump card. But on the ground, in real life, the result can be even more paralyzing to a man whose instinct is to protect his loved ones.
Tweet This: The so-called #WaronWomen is paralyzing for fathers-to-be. #prolife #fatherhood
Legally, a father’s consent is not needed for an abortion. Only a mother can legally end the life of her preborn child. When the gold standard for fatherhood in an unexpected pregnancy is reduced to a vague notion of “supporting whatever decision she makes,” a man has surrendered his inherent gift as a protector.
Regardless of what specific part a man plays in the abortion decision, he will not be spared from the possible trauma of its after-effects.
Now – here’s where we come in
Pregnancy help centers, medical clinics, maternity homes and more can play an important role in this crisis of sidelined men and diminished family structures. Our positioning in the “world” of untimely pregnancies is right in the epicenter of this very issue: at the beginning of a family.
Every time a mother or couple steps into our center, we have the opportunity to make a huge impact in the life of the preborn baby in the present, and in the quality of a family’s life long-term.
But what can we do for dad? Just like his partner, he deserves to have all the information and support he needs to realize his role as a loving protector and provider. The ball is in our court to equip dad with the same options as mom, enabling him to become a life-affirming voice for his partner and their preborn child.
Every day, we come in contact with women facing very challenging realities. We know the difference a supportive father can make in an unexpected pregnancy. We know the life-saving effect a dad can have.
Practically speaking, here are three ways our pregnancy help organizations can play a more supportive role in a dad’s life:
- By establishing a men’s advocate team/programming to help men see their role and to develop a game plan for fatherhood.
- By including men from the start—inviting dads to come in for individualized options counseling with their partner.
- By encouraging, equipping and walking with dads in their journey to be the man they were created to be.
A healthy family unit is the foundation that surrounds and supports our initial priority—empowering mothers to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy.
Tweet This: #prolife pregnancy help positioned to empower dads as well as moms.
If we can fill dad’s proverbial tool belt with parenting and life skills, we can quite possibly break the cycle of broken fatherhood for generations to come.
Tammy Shewfelt is Director of Client Services at The Pregnancy Help Center of South County in St. Louis.