There is growing evidence on how having or being denied an abortion affects pregnant women, including the impacts on their mental health and finances and those of their children. The effects on their male partners have received less attention.
Following the Supreme Court’s reversal Roe vs. Wadeexperts say that should no longer be the case.
“It’s really naive to think that the repeal of deer will only impact women and pregnant women,” said Dr. Bethany Everett, professor of sociology at the University of Utah.
Although the problem disproportionately affects people who are likely to get pregnant, Dr. Everett says it’s important to look at access to abortion from all sides, because limits on access to abortion will likely have wider implications for society as a whole.
One in five men have been involved in an abortion, study finds
Research on the impact of abortions on male partners has been limited, but that doesn’t mean the issue isn’t relevant to men.
Using existing data from the National Survey of Family Growth, a recent study estimates that one in five men have impregnated someone who has had an abortion. That’s likely an undercount, according to Dr. Brian Nguyen, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California, who helped oversee the project.
“Not all men are aware of the pregnancies they cause and those that end in abortion,” Dr Nguyen said. “For some men who may view abortion as a failure on their part to be a better partner or potential father, or for those whose social and cultural backgrounds have made them feel like abortion is wrong, disclosing a abortion can be difficult or uncomfortable.”
In a separate survey of more than 200 male partners of women seeking procedures at abortion clinics, Dr. Nguyen and his team found that about half already had children and supported termination. pregnancy in order to better support the needs of their existing family.
Young men who have been involved in abortions are more likely to pursue higher education and earn more
In his study published in the journal of adolescent health, Dr. Everett and his team found that young men who were involved in pregnancies and whose partners had abortions were nearly four times more likely to graduate from college than those whose partners had given birth.
His research also suggests that men under 20 who were affected by abortion were likely to earn more money than those who became parents but did not live with their child. Incomes between those who became parents and lived with their child and those whose partners terminated a pregnancy were about the same, Everett said, perhaps because those who became teenage fathers entered earlier in the labor market.
“But still, you would probably later see economic capital being built up among those who were able to pursue a career in teaching,” she adds.
These differences are significant but not surprising. According to Dr. Everett, previous research has generally linked delayed parenthood to better academic achievement and future socioeconomic status for both men and women.
“Parents should really think about not just what repealing Roe is going to mean for their daughters, but what it’s going to mean for their sons,” Dr. Everett said. “Their sons can become dads much sooner than they think.”
Demystifying the “us versus them” narrative between men and women
Dr. Nguyen has worked to help people recognize the role of cis men in reproductive health for over a decade. He sees his work as being inherently women-focused and in pursuit of gender equality, but to others it hasn’t always been clear.
“The gender-based discrimination and disparity that women have faced due to patriarchal power structures has really driven a wedge between the public’s mental image of men and women in relation to reproductive rights. “, said Dr. Nguyen.
He believes that the fight for access to abortion would benefit if cis men were fully committed to the cause, and demonstrating their tangible issues could help.
“When it comes to reproductive rights, we hear a lot about ‘her body, her choice’ and ‘I’ll support her no matter what.’ But it’s passive support,” he said. “For me, what men have to risk is their own comfort in having to deal with something that women are biologically compelled to do.”