The Church has a 'significant' abortion issue

(Photo: Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez)

A new study has found that a sizeable number of Christian men have been involved in an abortion decision.

Care Net, a US ministry that helps both Christians and non-Christians with unplanned pregnancies, surveyed 1,000 American men whose partner or wife had an abortion to find out about their involvement in the decision.

In the survey, conducted in partnership with LifeWay Research, over two thirds of the men (68%) identified as Christian, and just over half (51%) said they were attending church once a month or more at the time of their partner's abortion.

The findings mirrored similar results in Care Net's 2015 study of women who had an abortion, in which two out of every five said they were attending church at least monthly at the time they terminated their pregnancy.

"That tells us that we have a significant issue with abortion in the Church and one of our calls has been to overturn Roe v Wade in our own churches and in our own pews," said Roland Warren, president and CEO of Care Net.

He said feelings of "guilt and shame" were a "key driver" in abortions among Christians, and that too often, Christian men were encouraging their partners to have an abortion because of a lack of ministry in the Church to support unplanned pregnancies.

"This is a log in our eye versus the speck in the culture's eye and we want to make sure that churches are places that have a ministry so that someone who's facing a pregnancy decision never feels that an abortion provider is a compassionate alternative to the Church," he said.

In other findings, the survey found that around a third (34%) of the men were married at the time of the abortion, while 29% were living together with their partner, and the same proportion were in a relationship but not cohabiting.

Asked who was the most influential in the decision to have the abortion, over a third (38%) of the men said they were. Others said a medical professional (18%) or the woman's mother (14%) or friends (7%).

Men were far more likely to urge their partner to abort (42%) than suggest she not have an abortion (27%).

The most common reasons given by the men for encouraging the abortion were that they could not afford a child at the time (46%) and that they did not feel ready to be a father (29%).

"If a woman tells a guy she's pregnant ... what he says next determines the trajectory of what's going to happen there," said Warren.

Just under a third of men (31%) said they did not give their partner any advice on whether to abort. Asked why, over six in 10 (63%) said it was her choice. A similar number (61%) said they were ready to support her either way, and one in five (19%) felt that they couldn't say anything.

Commenting on the fifth of respondents who felt unable to say anything, Warren said that the culture had "done such a number on men over the last 40-plus years" to make them think that they are not part of the decision-making process.

"Men who actually would support this decision (to have the baby) long-term and move forward to build strong families often are silent because they feel they've been told that they have no agency and no say in this," he said.

"So from a pro-life perspective we have a tremendous need and urgency to get men to step into those conversations."

He said it was probably the case that most women considering an abortion would like their partner's input.

"The reality is that many women and I would even say most women do tell their partner they're pregnant and they're not telling him so that he can say 'I support whatever decision you make'. I believe too often in these cases they really want him to step into the conversation, which is why she told him.

"And for too many men, we've been trained over 40 years to say 'I've got nothing to say, I've got no agency here,' and that's putting a lot of women and children and families at risk."

He said it was important that the pro-life movement seek to "change that dynamic" and do more to engage men in discussions with their partner.

"We have to engage men in this process because men are the most influential in the decision to abort," he said.

"Legally obviously it's her body and her choice. That's what the law has codified. But the reality is that it may be her body, her choice but he is a key influencer to that and certainly we need to actually be engaging those who are key influencers especially when you put this in the context of building strong families consistent with God's design."