In light of Roe v. Wade, men share their abortion stories

Two years ago, Matthew Markman, a California software salesman, and his wife, who was 20 weeks pregnant, learned that their son had a rare heart defect. If his wife carried the fetus to term, it was unlikely to survive after birth, their doctor told them.

The news was crushing for Mr. Markman and his wife; they had been trying for a baby for over a year and had used in vitro fertilization several times. After three cycles of implantation, one embryo got stuck, but resulted in a miscarriage. This pregnancy had been their fifth embryo. They had even agreed on a first name, Elijah, “because my grandfather’s name starts with an E and he had just died”, says Mr Markman, 37, who considers himself favorable the right to abortion.

When the couple made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy, Mr Markman felt that since it was his wife who was carrying the fetus and had to undergo the procedure, he had to be the stronger one in this moment of despair . They cremated the remains and spread the ashes on Muir Beach in northern California.

“Personally, I had to take time off from work for a few months because it was an emotionally very difficult time,” he said. “It took me a while to realize that it was good that the experience was difficult for me too.”

Another recurring theme in the responses of the men who wrote to The Times was the belief that they would not be where they are today without abortion.

There is a large body of peer-reviewed research linking access to abortion to a woman’s emotional, physical and financial outcomes, including the landmark Turnaway study, which followed women who had seen themselves refused abortions for five years and found that they were more likely to be living in poverty or unemployment than women who were able to have abortions. But experts noted that only a few researchers have explored the long-term consequences of an abortion on a man’s life course.

A 2019 study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that men whose partners had abortions while in college were more likely to graduate and earn higher incomes than men. whose partners did not have one.

Nam Phan, a 30-year-old engineer from Massachusetts and father of two, said his wife’s abortion when they dated as teenagers helped them become better parents. At the time, they were not financially equipped and did not feel mature enough to take care of a baby. “I don’t think any of us can even manage to take care of ourselves at this point,” he said.

Their first child, now 5, was also an unplanned pregnancy, but they felt much more prepared for parenthood when they found out; they had graduated from college, settled into their jobs, got married, and were about to buy a house.

“We don’t lose sight that having a child back then would have really changed our lives in a significant way,” he said.

When Kevin Barhydt was 19, the woman he was dating got pregnant. Immediately he was overwhelmed with “panic and tremendous fear”.

“There was no ‘oh, let’s list the pros and cons’ moment,” said Barhydt, now a 60-year-old analyst and author in New York. By then, he had already had a difficult life. He had been abused, he had dropped out of high school, and he struggled with alcohol addiction. They weren’t in a place to care for a newborn, and he didn’t even have money to pay for the abortion, he said.

Mr. Barhydt’s second abortion experience was about a year later with another woman, while he was still struggling with his addiction. He called this period of his life “terrible”.

“The idea of ​​having a child just seemed crazy then,” he said.

The two abortions, Mr. Barhydt said, pushed him on “a healing trajectory”. He went to college and found a steady job. He married and had two sons, and has now been sober for over three decades. These memories, however, are still painful.

“Am I praying for forgiveness? Yes, I do,” Mr. Barhydt said. “Would I have liked there to have been a way to keep my children? Yes. Do I regret my decision at the time? No way.”