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Women undergoing abortion procedures can experience a range of emotions for years after, including spouts of depression and seas of “what ifs.” With the rate of abortions in the United States, the procedure must become both a discussion for the wider public and a continuous private conversation between couples. In 2008, 1.21 million women in the United States had an abortion, creating the likelihood of one-third of American women having an abortion by age 45. Biologically, women always will carry the physical load. However, the procedure is relatively quick; what lingers is the emotional burden and often, trauma of terminating a pregnancy.

As I watched Markai Durham’s journey to abortion on MTV’s “No Easy Decision” Special, I personally felt elated to see her experience shared on a mainstream platform. Why? Primarily, I enjoyed the conversations between she and her boyfriend, James. For one, I liked how they weighed their options and his emotional investment in the decision. He also played a strong supportive role in taking her to the clinic and catering to her physical recovery after the procedure. Although they already had one child, he recognized that simply writing a check and sending Markai to the clinic alone or with a girlfriend should not be an option. If it takes two to tango, men hold some responsibility in sharing the burden of the experience. A four hundred dollar check does not suffice for your presence in addition to physical and emotional support.

In simple terms, there are three main abortion procedures that women undergo.

The Abortion Pill – this medication causes the woman’s uterus to break down and empty. Women up to 9 weeks pregnant can use this method.

Vacuum Aspiration – this is an in-clinic procedure that involves a licensed abortion practitioner sticking a speculum into a woman’s vagina and then using a vacuum to empty the uterus. Women are offered medication for pain and sedation to help them relax. Vacuum aspiration is the most popular abortion procedure and women up to 16 weeks pregnant can choose it.

Dilation and Evacuation – this in-clinic procedure is similar to Vacuum Aspiration; however, it calls for more preparation of the womb prior to the actual procedure, including a possible abdomen shot to make sure there is a fetus demise before the procedure begins. After preparation, a licensed abortion practitioner uses medical instruments and a suction machine to empty the woman’s uterus. Women more than 16 weeks pregnant can choose this procedure.

Clearly, the descriptions of abortion procedures alone are enough to intimidate and scare many women. Now accompany that with the acute awareness that a potential child is growing inside of you. Then, imagine having to make the final decision of whether or not to terminate the pregnancy. I’ve watched friends go to clinics for abortion procedures without the men that “assisted” in getting them pregnant. Worse, I’ve witnessed friends go home after the procedure and not hear from these men for weeks. Often, men just write the check to cover the procedure and feel that “contribution” is adequate to cover their share in the emotional responsibility. Too many men adopt the attitude of “forgetting” and “letting go” of the experience while encouraging their female partners to do the same. It’s not that women want to recount and hold on to the experience, but the emotional impact isn’t easily erased for most.

To be fair, there also are women that undergo abortion procedures without consulting their male partners or truly weighing their desire for the outcome of the pregnancy. I do believe that the ultimate decision lies with the woman; however, abortion also can be emotionally stressful for men that perhaps want to have the child. Emotional support shouldn’t be one sided. Women also ought to be sensitive that men can be invested in early stage pregnancies. However, it is a woman’s right to choose and men ought to support their female partners unconditionally despite the final decision.

In the words of Markai, “No one ever wants to have an abortion. No one is pro-abortion…But you have to do what’s right.”

We can debate the “morality” of abortion all day but what’s right is couples supporting each other during the experience. Abortion isn’t just a female issue; it’s a shared issue between sexes. It’s about time that all men own up to their responsibility to support some of the difficult outcomes of their sexual actions. Women shouldn’t have to do it alone.

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  • Wello

    in a fair world men would be able to get pregnant to
    yeah it sucks but what sucks more is all of this is going to happen to the woman’s body and all too often its women that are left with the children to raise alone. some don’t abort even when they can’t afford to have a child or the father may not want a child but when an organism is growing inside of her and its not an easy thing to do considering that. either choice, even with support isn’t easy and it won’t be easy for the men either but its not their body this is happening to.
    most women don’t have multiple abortions with gay abandon and i don’t why some let the this tiny group occupy abortion debates.facts even show most women who have abortions don’t do this

    serious, debilitating complications can happen in abortions, pregnancy and birth, so why should someone have agency over your body to force you to have a serious operation (abortion) ; go through with an unwanted pregnancy that consumes 9 months of your life with the chance they guy may leave;with the emotional and physical stresses on the body and mind and chance or death in both scenarios, how would it be fair to allow this? how is it even sane to consider giving someone else the power to do this to another person’s body?

    all sex is consensual or it rape BOTH the woman and the man CHOOSE to have unprotected sex and are having an unwanted pregnancy
    *men have the choice not to have unprotected sex
    *they can choose not to sleep with women they wouldn’t want any attachments with
    *men have choice and control of who they have sex with and need to exercise it the same people expect women to.

    the whole point of this article was more support, especially emotional support. with proper communication and support both parties will be involved and the burden shared and if she makes a choice he disagrees with, ultimately its not happening to and inside his body; he won’t be the one with the physical signs or have the stress and pain of pregnancy and labour.i don’t expect the guy to be unaffected (we are all human) but even if they don’t stay together with good communication it can help with the stress, avoid conflict and maybe bring closure to a hard time and avoid the Maury show.

    fact is many men don’t involve them selves with pregnancy enough or at all whether or not the mother is or isn’t communicating with them. often when i do hear women say “i’m doing this by my self” (abortion or carrying out pregnancy) it more because they don’t have support and or the relationship with the dad is bad and with both situations it some what understandable why they may not want the dad in their life.
    more men are making strides in changing this and are increasingly more involved with pregnancy, birth and child raising as it should be.

    “it would be awesome if the medical community spent more time and money developing male oral contraception, instead of worrying about making it possible for them to maintain an erection at 90 years old…”
    i agree so much. i wonder why its taking so long.

  • Jinx Moneypenny

    This is true. Markai’s boyfriend clearly cared about the outcome, whether they had decided against it or not.

    That’s the best example of partner support I have ever seen on TV.

  • Vixenlibra

    I like the overall gist of the article, Abortion is definitely a shared issue,

    Wello I agree with so many of your points! :)

    I feel like if the woman is truly honest with herself she knows wether she is ready to be a mother and if her boyfriend, man, or husband is ready to or even can be a good father. (Lets Be honest, don’t lie to ourselves about these men. Lets get out of fantasyworld :) ). So ULTIMATELY it is the woman’s responsibility (not hers alone, but in the end it is hers) to take precautions that ensure she does not get pregnant, or that her possible baby daddy is responsible. It is her body that develops and carries the baby and to be honest, a majority of the weight falls on the mother.

    I also feel like a “responsible” man honestly knows wether he is ready for children and if his girl is ready to or even can be a good mother. He also needs to do what he can to protect himself. If you are hung up on the fact that a condom is only %99 effective, consider the seriousness of possibly producing a child and choose a better sex partner or don’t have sex at all.

    I lot of us don’t consider just how serious the situation is. One night stands and sexual encounters that occur after only knowing a person for a short time makes it harder to seriously weigh the pros and cons and make a conscious decision about the possible outcome.