Hey, wait -- that's my abortion!

The Nation takes a detailed look at the burgeoning movement of male "post-abortion syndrome."


Catherine Price
January 22, 2008 10:58PM (UTC)

Today being the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and all, I thought it might be appropriate to do a follow-up to the incendiary post I wrote about men who want to change the pronoun of abortion. You know, just so if people feel as if they didn't fully express themselves in the post's 221 comments, they can have another go.

To be more specific, I want to draw your attention to an article in the Nation called "Pity the Man," which offers a more detailed look into the men's post-abortion syndrome (PAS) movement -- that is, men who claim that their partners' abortions have caused them post-traumatic stress.

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I recommend checking out the article itself, since it does a great job of summing up the movement and describing the positions of its supporters and detractors. (The title, by the way, is a sarcastic reaction against a man whose stepmother claimed that his PAS caused him to murder an abortion provider.) But I will say that one thing I've found missing from most articles that discuss the men's PAS movement is what these people think their lives would be like if their partners hadn't had abortions. Because, see, for the abortion to have happened, at least one person must have wanted it. It's not like there was a supportive, loving family structure in place and then some magical abortion fairy came in and snatched the woman off to a clinic against both her and the man's will. So what would have happened if the man had had the right to force the woman not to have had the abortion? Would he have managed to convince her that she did, in fact, want to be the mother of his child? Would they both have gone on to raise a perfect kid in an idyllic home? Or would they have been left with whatever problems already existed in their relationship, with the additional complication of having a kid? And what would that child's life have been like? Surely some of the kids would have been just fine -- but one might suggest, if we're trying to come up with hypothetical Swiftian new abortion-related movements, that some entrepreneurial, abused kids out there start a post-non-abortion syndrome movement (PNAS) and claim that their abuse has to do with the fact that their mother didn't have the abortion. Now, wouldn't that be a turn of the tables!

Men's PAS is also expanding into a whole world of abortion-related victimization. Suddenly any sort of emotional distress can be pinned on an abortion -- and you don't even need to be the mother or father to feel it. As the article explains, "Beyond men, PAS is becoming a family affair. There's some talk of PAS for siblings, otherwise known as Post-Abortion Survivor Syndrome, which is said to mimic guilt and fear suffered by Holocaust survivors ... [The movement's leaders] and others are also working on PAS for grandparents who, 'having aborted some of their children or having urged their children to abort ... [will] have a deep fear of retaliation.'" In other words, a single abortion can create a victim out of five or six people, easy (not counting the fetus). And why stop there? I'm sure some cousins are feeling bad about the size of their extended family. Come to think of it, ever since the abortion, even the dog has been looking kind of down.

Anyway, I'll end this here and let you check out the article. But I think it's safe to say that 35 years after Roe v. Wade, it's amazing what new arguments against reproductive rights people can come up with.

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Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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