an After abortion

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Thursday, April 24, 2003

Conversation about feticide from Matthew Yglesias and many commentators. (Since his backtrack feature isn't working, you'll have to scroll down to the feticide post.

I contributed a note toward the end.

One of the commentators focuses in detail on the idea that a woman should never be forced to carry an unwanted baby.

It reminds me of some of the factors that go into deciding that a particular pregnancy is unwanted.

Far more often than many men are aware, the woman's calculations about her state of readiness to carry a child are based on not very flattering, although perhaps semi-conscious, evaluations about the father of the child. "I'm not so sure he'd be a good dad", "He's ineffective, unreliable and incompetent", "He just doesn't have what it takes to get me and the baby through this." "He's immature and not ready to be a good provider."

It's a version of the Darwin Awards.

These beliefs are rarely spoken out loud but they do come through in some sense to the father of the child. The rest of his life, whether he experiences regret or grief, he lives with the knowledge that one or more of his children weren't born partly because of an evaluation by the mother of the child (and sometimes also her parents and friends) wherein he was judged as inadequate.

Men who are the fathers in cases of unexpected pregnancies and who react by saying some version of "How you handle this pregnancy is completely up to you" or "Whatever you decide I will support you" intend to come across as supportive. Unfortunately, however, such men are often experienced by the woman as abandoning, passive and weak. In her mind, this increases the likelihood that the man doesn't have what it takes to be a good dad.

It can be psychologically difficult for a man to live with the knowledge that he has been found lacking in a matter of life or death pertaining to his own children.

Here's a link to a book about male emotional reactions to abortion, Men and Abortion, which appears to include recommended steps for acheiving resolution.

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