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A Deafening Silence: Why Men Often Don't Talk About Abortion at Church

(Image credit: Ben White/Unsplash)

A new study on men and abortion reveals that half of the men whose partner had an abortion were attending church at the time but that many of them did not feel comfortable discussing the decision with anyone in their congregation.

Lifeway Research conducted the survey for Care Net, a national network of pregnancy centers last year. It interviewed 1,000 men whose partners had an abortion and who knew about their pregnancy prior to the abortion. The survey found 51% of the men were attending church at least once a month at the time and 68% identified themselves as Christian.

Still, 45% said no one at their church knew of the abortion and half of those polled said they would not recommend that someone with an unplanned pregnancy discuss it with someone at a local church.

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Care Net CEO Roland Warren told CBN News he's concerned that men aren't seeing their local congregation as a place of help during an unplanned pregnancy. 

"Men do say that the church certainly could be a place of support but they don't necessarily view the church as a first place to go for support and that's a real problem," he said.

Lifeway Research Executive Director Scott McConnell said men are not likely to share their abortion with anyone at church while they're going through the decision-making process and even afterward. He called the study a "wake-up call" for the church as it thinks about men and their role.

"They're not perceiving that the church is going to be open to walking with them through that decision and that journey," said McConnell. "The messages that the church is sending are often very clear. Just simply saying 'Abortion is a sin' and not understanding that there are couples facing some really difficult decisions."

"And yes, they got themselves in that situation but they're going to need help at their point of need," he added. 

Overall, the study found that men often play an influential role in a woman's decision to abort their child. More than 4 in 10 of the men whose partners had an abortion said they encouraged it and 3 in 10 said they didn't give any advice. 

McConnell sees that as a missed opportunity for men and one influenced by the culture wars. 

"They're hearing the dialogue in the culture saying, 'It's her body. Her choice,' even though, they had everything to do with that child in the beginning," he said. "So they're really losing their responsibility in the equation and not following through and speaking up."

The men who suggested or encouraged their partners to have an abortion cited finances most often as the primary motivator. They also talked about not feeling ready to be a father or feeling that they already had enough children. Others said relationship problems were the issue.

Warren says that churches must offer ways for couples and especially men to talk about abortion when needed. 

"There really aren't on-ramps in the church, typically, for someone who's facing a pregnancy decision," he said.

Care Net is offering "Making LIfe Disciples," an online course designed to help small groups and churches spur the conversation.

Warren said it can all come down to nine days, the typical time between when a woman confirms a pregnancy and when she schedules or has an abortion.

Have you have had an abortion, are contemplating ending your pregnancy, or would like pregnancy-related resources, please click here.

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