I Let Her Kill My Child - The Regret I Live with Post-Abortion
Regret is a strange emotion because there is typically nothing you can do about whatever you’re regretful about. You can for example apologize to the person you hurt but that imprint of pain will always linger like a minor bruise while the receiver of the apology has to ignore the bruising from the past to accept the healing of the present.
But what happens if the person you hurt is not alive for you to apologize to? Even more so, what happens if this person is not alive due to your inability to defend them? To the point, what happens if this person was never born because you didn’t advocate for them?
I believe that living in regret is most of the time a wasteful state of mind because it keeps you chained to a past event that you’ll never be able to reverse and the only way forward is to put on mental blinders to achieve future personal progress.
But I have trouble practicing what I preach for one particular event: the abortion of my child. It is a regret that I will likely never get over and no matter how many times I ask God for forgiveness, I’ll probably never forgive myself.
Growing up in the Northeast, you’re surrounded by people who hold mostly liberal perspectives about the world, especially about how to view women in society. As a child of a single parent, I grew up with my mother and sister and I lacked the counterbalance of masculinity. I didn’t have a strong male figure to constantly remind me that protecting the people you love is an essential trait of manhood.
I repeated what everyone told me about childbearing matters: her body, her choice. I believed this notion by ignoring my instinctual uncomfortableness with the ramifications of this slogan. I did as I was trained to do which was to keep my mouth shut because it’s not my baby, it’s hers.
One day, my ex-girlfriend tells me she was pregnant and I could feel her staring at me with anticipation of my response. Even as I recollect back to this moment, I am envisioning the anxiety on her face and my response to this news would determine her decision. “I support whatever you want to do” was my response and a cowardly one at that.
Showing my support for her choice was supposed to be the right answer but it never felt right and it produced the wrong outcome. After I uttered those words, I could see the disappointment in her face but I didn’t think I could communicate how I really felt.
At the time, I was in my mid-20s and had a son already. We weren’t married, our relationship was mediocre and I had anxiety about the prospect of moving forward with another child with someone like her. There were hundreds of things that came into my mind at that one moment but I passed the emotional decision-making back to her since it’s supposed to be her body and her choice after all.
From that moment on, we didn’t discuss what was going to happen until days later she told me about her reluctant decision. On the day of my child’s death, I transported my ex to the abortion clinic and waited in the car until it was over. It was one of the strangest moments in my life as I wrestled with legitimizing why it should happen while hiding my pain for not protecting my child.
Our car ride home was verbally silent which made it even more noticeable as to her attempting to hold back her tears. On that drive home, it dawned on me how neither of us wanted this outcome. She was looking for me to ease her anxiety because finding out you’re pregnant can legitimately be stressful and all I did was give her the impression that I didn’t care.
If this was supposed to be the right verbiage for the circumstance, why did it feel so wrong at the time? The reason why it felt wrong was that it was wrong. I abandoned my fiduciary responsibility as a father to protect my child and I’ll likely carry this painful regret with me for the rest of my life.
I understand that she could have made the decision to abort even if I jumped up and down in excitement for the birth of my second child but the point of my regret is understanding that the opposite was also a possibility.
Whenever the topic of abortion comes into public discussion, we pretend as if men are indifferent to whether their children live or die. The narrative gets changed into about men wanting to control women’s bodies instead of men who want to protect their children as it is our primary responsibility as fathers.
I know many women who’ve exercised their decision to abort and they are completely different women afterward due to the emotional toll it takes on them.
Their motherly instinct to nurture was superseded by their angst about the prospect of becoming a mother economically or in partnership with an unreliable partner. Those women socially are told they are making the “right choice no matter the choice yet they emotionally suffer, oftentimes for years, based on the decision to kill their offspring.
If every choice is the “right” choice then why even attach a moral judgment to the choice at all? I believe abortion advocates want to give women this built-in coping narrative for what they know deep down to be wholly immoral. It also feels somewhat unfair to women to put all the burden of choice onto them when child-rearing is supposed to be a parental partnership.
What should be understood is that these abortion narratives affect the would-be fathers as well. Some men live in regret of not doing more to convince their child’s mother to not go through with the decision to abort. Some men are suffering even though they were in support of the birth taking place yet their voices were ignored by a mother who was determined to abort.
Men are told that it’s the woman’s body and their choice but it’s our baby too and we suffer as well.
Thank you for being honest and vulnerable about your regret. We need to be more open about how abortion affects both men and women and the life long pain it inflicts on so many. I am deeply moved by your reflection and pray you will be able to forgive yourself for not knowing what you know now. You have my deepest respect.
This is so poignant and thoughtful. Society needs to do better understanding a father’s perspective. This touching and genuine piece will provide healing to others who have felt similarly but maybe couldn’t connect the dots. You have emphasized a profound truth, fathers matter in a profound way. Thank you.