Respect Life: Helping men affected by abortion Print
Respect Life
Written by Susanna D. Herro, For the Catholic Herald   
Wednesday, Oct. 08, 2008 -- 11:55 AM

Just last fall, after 34 years of legalized abortion, the first ever conference on men and abortion was held.

Scientists are discovering men’s serious grief responses to abortions. This research is closely connected to Madison and to Wisconsin. Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel in Milwaukee, helped create this conference. From Madison, both Dr. Catherine Coyle and Dr. Robert Enright are cited in the information from the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

These three Wisconsin people are helping men understand their sense of loss, the erosion of trust, and the “loss of spiritual connectedness to God and to one’s partner . . .” There is a distinct concern that an abortion history makes it harder for men to trust enough to fully commit to marriage and fatherhood.

 For help or more information, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 608-821-3177 to be referred to a priest or counselor, or to learn about a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. The next retreat is in the Madison area, November 14 to 16. For more details: call the number above or go to the Diocesan Web site:
Click on Outreach; Justice and Pastoral Outreach; Repect Life; Abortion & Healing

Men ask, “If I couldn’t protect the child who was aborted, how can I protect any child of mine?”

The sad reality is that in the United States, a husband has no right to be informed of his wife’s impending abortion. Men who are not married to the mother of their child have no legal standing to protect their child.

This comes as a shock to many. Even when a man is willing to pay all expenses and to raise the child himself, the law does not allow him to protect his child from abortion.

Men and women need to be aware that sometimes additional steps need to be taken to heal from the effects of abortion.

The Diocese of Madison is able to provide help for those who are troubled by prior abortions. Through the efforts of our many priests who have taken additional training, the work of many volunteers to provide healing retreats, and the support of the laity in the Respect Life collection, help is available. (See sidebar.)

The pain felt by those who have experienced abortion is instructive to all of us. It is estimated that well over 45 million abortions have taken place in the 35 years that Roe vs. Wade Doe vs. Bolton has allowed abortion for any reason during all nine months of pregnancy. Even if only 10 percent of the men and women who have had abortions have pronounced psychological difficulties, (the lower end of researchers’ estimates) that is a lot of suffering.

These numbers are staggering, but even more so when considering the African American community. The USCCB website states, “Since the Roe vs. Wade decision, the number one cause of death in the African American community is abortion . . . over 13 million lives. To put that in perspective, that is one third of our present Black population...” Abortion is intrinsically evil and we are all called to end this devastating practice.

As Catholics, we also need to look at some of the other causes that weaken the will to stand strong for life. One such hidden cause is pornography.

Many do not see the link of pornography with the increase in sexual promiscuity, adultery, and the addictive nature of pornography. For a fuller explanation, please go to

As Pope Benedict XVI is quoted, “Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships.” Without that healthy understanding, people objectify others. Pornography on our televisions, in advertising, on-line, and at the movies is skewing people’s perceptions of what is acceptable.

Pornography and abortion both debase human beings, but the Church offers hope and healing from a forgiving God.

Susanna D. Herro is the director of the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach in the Diocese of Madison.