'Abortion Is Not Solely a Woman's Story,' Cont'd

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Another guy steps forward:

When you asked for more stories of men’s experience with abortion, I felt comfortable with sharing. I initially didn’t want to intrude in this space. I am 30 years old and my wife is 27. We have been married for five years. My wife had an abortion in the fall of 2015 because we got careless with birth control.

After a light menstrual period that turned out to just be spotting, and another missed period, she took a pregnancy test while I was in class and it came out positive. When I came home, she burst into tears, and we held each other and wept in our kitchen.

That night, she called Planned Parenthood to make an appointment. Even in a state without barriers to reproductive health it took almost two weeks to get an appointment for the procedure. With how emotionally draining this was, I can’t begin to grasp how difficult it would be in a state with a waiting period, having to be treated as if you don't have the capacity to grasp the gravity of the situation.

Once we confirmed that she was pregnant, we couldn’t overlook the physical and emotional changes and we were raw with grief. We didn’t feel that we could tell our families for emotional support because her side is extremely Catholic and her mom got pregnant with her older brother at 18, which 35 years later is still contentious for the family. We told a few of our friends but still felt like there was this dark cloud following us around for the 10 days until the appointment.

We were both anxious about what to say at work regarding the day we would need to take off. My wife teaches at a Catholic school, which compounded the anxiety. What if someone found out? She’s not protected by a union because it’s a private school and they could fire her on moral grounds.

The emotional turmoil was unbelievable. We discussed so many times if there was any other option and we just kept coming up with a firm no.

On the day of her appointment, it was rainy and cold. There was only one protester outside of the clinic. The staff was kind and comforting. I felt helpless because I was not allowed in for the initial examination or the procedure. I completely understand why, but I just wanted to be there for my wife.

When it was over and she was recovering we knew that it was the right decision for us and that the timing wasn’t right. We still grieved the decision.

It was not an easy choice to make, but we both feel that it was the morally right decision. We want to have kids some day. But while she was unaware that she was pregnant, we were acting like our normal selves. We had wine with dinner, went out for drinks with friends, and had attended a wedding that had an open bar. Why would we knowingly bring a child into the world that already has two strikes against it developmentally?

Thank you for this project; it is so necessary. Please, if you decide to use this, I would like to be kept anonymous.

All of our posted emails are kept anonymous unless otherwise requested (which also helps with the editing process). A huge thanks to this reader and so many others who have written in, even if we don’t have the space to publish your story. This abortion series, by the way, has been leading TheAtlantic.com all day today, which I think is a huge testament to the humanity of your stories and the skill of your writing, as well as all the smart, thoughtful, and provocative emails that come through the hello@ account every day.

Coincidentally, regarding this reader’s concern about his wife drinking while unknowingly pregnant, Olga and Julie just posted a piece scrutinizing yesterday’s new guidelines from the CDC advising doctors to “recommend birth control to women who are having sex (if appropriate), not planning to get pregnant, and drinking alcohol” in an effort to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome. Check it out.