Two years ago, Matthew Markman, a software salesman in California, and his wife, who was 20 weeks pregnant, learned that their son had a rare heart defect. If his wife had the fetus to full term, he probably wouldn’t survive the birth, their doctor told them.
The news was devastating to Mr. Markman and his wife; they had been trying to have a baby for over a year and had used in vitro fertilization several times. After three rounds of implantation, one embryo lingered, but this resulted in a miscarriage. This pregnancy had been their fifth embryo. They had even chosen a name, Elijah, “because my grandfather’s name starts with an E and he had recently passed,” said Mr. Markman, 37, who considers himself a supporter of abortion rights.
When the couple made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy, Mr. Markman felt that because his wife was the one carrying the fetus and having to undergo the procedure, he should be the stronger one in that moment of desperation. They cremated the remains and scattered the ashes on Muir Beach in Northern California.
“Personally, I had to take a few months off work because it was a very difficult period emotionally,” he said. “It took me a while to realize it was okay that the experience was tough on me too.”
Life after abortion
Another recurring theme in the responses from men writing to The Times was the belief that they would not be where they are today without abortion.
There is a vast body of peer-reviewed research linking access to abortion with a woman’s emotional, physical and financial outcomes, including the groundbreaking Turnaway study, which followed women who had not had an abortion for five years and found that they had more were more likely to live in poverty or be unemployed than women who have had an abortion. But experts noted that only a few researchers have examined the long-term impact of an abortion on a man’s life trajectory.
A study, published in 2019 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that men whose partners had abortions while in college were more likely to graduate and earn a higher income than men whose partners did not. did.
Nam Phan, a 30-year-old Massachusetts engineer and father of two, said the abortion his wife had while dating helped them eventually become better parents. At the time, they were neither financially equipped nor did they feel mature enough to care for a baby. “I don’t think any of us could even take care of ourselves at that point,” he said.
Their first child, who is now 5, was also an unplanned pregnancy, but they felt much more prepared for parenthood when they heard about him; they had graduated, found their jobs, were married, and were about to buy a house.
“It has not escaped our notice that having a child at that time would have really changed our lives significantly,” he said.
When Kevin Barhydt was 19, the woman he saw became pregnant. Immediately he was overcome with “panic and enormous fear”.
“There was no ‘gosh, let’s do a pros and cons’ moment,” said Mr. Barhydt, now a 60-year-old analyst and author based in New York. He had been abused, had dropped out of high school and struggled with an 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 came about a year later with another woman, while he was still struggling with his addiction. He described that time in his life as “terrible.”
“The idea of having a child just seemed insane at the time,” he said.
Both abortions, Mr Barhydt said, pushed him toward “a trajectory of healing.” He went to college and found a steady job. He married and had two sons, and he has been sober for over three decades now. However, those memories are still painful.
“Do I pray for forgiveness? Yes, I do,’ said Mr Barhydt. “Do I wish there had been a way to keep my children? Yes. Do I regret my decision at that point? Not at all.”