Local News

Men Speak Out About Their Abortion Rights

Posted May 8, 1999

— Walk a mile in Timothy Burrell's shoes and you will understand why a teenage mistake still haunts him.

"At times I think 'What if?,'" Burrell says.

Burrell and his girlfriend faced an unplanned pregnancy. He was looking forward to becoming a father, but his girlfriend and her mother had other plans.

"The downfall came when the young lady called me and told me that she had an abortion," Burrell says. "At the time I felt very angry. I felt like something had been taken away from me that I didn't have an opportunity to have any input on."

The effects of abortion on women are well documented, but what about men? Studies show men experience the same after-effects as women. Now some men are now talking publicly about it.

This kind of experience has formed part of the foundation for a movement called Choice for Men.

Walter Klausemeier ofPlanned Parenthoodsays men want in on reproductive decisions -- including abortion.

"You see more men involved with family, with rearing of children, attendance at childbirth, and so forth. Men want to be involved in reproductive health," Klausemeier says.

The so-called Choice for Men debate has representatives on both sides of the abortion issue. The debate may even take on a legal tone if the National Center for Men's Rights finds a test case. Now, while the philosophies on both sides are different, there is a common ground -- to give men more of a say in reproductive choices.

For years, men have felt overlooked, because abortion was viewed as an issue that primarily concerned women.

Lauretta Thompson, a pro-life advocate who believes men are the forgotten element in the debate, says men are silently hurting.

"We have fathers mourning their children and not even realizing that it's okay," Thompson said.

Feelings of isolation, depression, anger and powerlessness are familiar to Burrell. When his girlfriend had the abortion, professional counseling was not available to him.

But men should not ignore their emotions, says Tracy Robinson, a professor in counseling education.

"Men are not socialized to to feel that they need help, let alone ask for it," she says. "Depression is a normal reaction to a loss, you have to grieve, you have to grieve that which never had an opportunity to be," Robinson said.

Burrell's grieving lasted three years ending when his first child was born.

Today, he shares his experience as a volunteer counselor at a Durham pregnancy support center. Burrell is now helping others and in the process, healing.

"I wanted to kind of give back, or give somebody else what I didn't have the opportunity to have -- which is some type of therapy or counseling," Burrell says.

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