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Eight dads share how abortion shaped their lives

Dads aren’t often asked about abortion, so for Father’s Day, we asked. Here’s what some of them said about their personal experiences.
Image: National Rallies For Abortion Rights Held Across The U.S.
An abortion rights demonstrator in Chicago, Illinois.Scott Olson / Getty Images

Eight dads are sharing how abortion has helped them become the fathers they are today, on what experts believe will likely be the last Father's Day before the Supreme Court issues a ruling that would overturn Roe v Wade.

In May, a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion on the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban indicated the Court is poised to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established the constitutional right to abortion care.

The draft is not a formal decision and the court has not ruled on the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban. Abortion is still legal in all 50 states.

Image: National Rallies For Abortion Rights Held Across The U.S.
Abortion rights demonstrators at a rally on May 14, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Most pregnant people who have abortions already have at least one child, according to CDC data.

And while 85% of people who have abortions are not married, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research organization, nearly half had been in a relationship for a year or more with the person who impregnated them.

Before Father's Day, TODAY Parents spoke to eight dads who responded to a call-out on social media asking fathers to share how abortion shaped their lives. The men were given permission from their current partners to disclose their abortions and other personal medical information. Their last names have been withheld to protect their families’ privacy, and their comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Andrew, 40, Washington

Andrew is a bartender and has a 5-year-old son.

"I wouldn't be a father without abortion.

"Before we met, both my wife and I had experiences with abortion. A casual partner of mine had an abortion. And while it took a while for my wife to feel comfortable telling me about it, she had an abortion, too.

"I think her fear was that I would probably be like a lot of people, in particular men, in her life — she was still very much feeling a lot of that stigma. And so once she got it off her chest it took me all of two seconds to say, 'Hey, guess what? Me too.' And then we just moved on from from there in a much more supportive way. I just found myself feeling really connected to her.

"If we had not been able to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, we wouldn't be happily married with a 5-year-old. It would have taken both of our lives in completely different directions.

"I consider my role as a man and a father to put a dude out into the world that knows abortion is normal; that knows that with every unwanted pregnancy, there's a man involved. Our voices have been very very quiet, if non-existent, but abortion has allowed me to live my life and make the choices that I think everyone should get to make."

Simon, 32, Massachusetts

Simon works in advertising and has a 2-year-old toddler.

"My wife and I have been together for 12 years and married for eight. Early in our relationship, we had an unplanned pregnancy that we decided to abort. It wasn’t an easy decision, but we weren’t remotely ready to have the family we knew we eventually wanted.

"Fast forward about eight years, once we were both emotionally, physically and financially ready to start our family, my wife suffered a miscarriage and opted to have a D&C (dilation and curettage procedure). This was incredibly important for us both, since the emotional toll of not carrying to term was huge. Being able to move on from that was an essential first step.

"We were fortunate to have access to abortion resources. Without them, I wouldn’t be the father I am able to be today for our amazing 2-year-old child.

"I want other men to learn from my story. My wife and I knew we wanted kids when we first met and fell in love, but the first time we got pregnant we were not ready. It wasn’t easy for us to make the decision to have an abortion, but the fact is that we had a choice in the matter. Not carrying that first pregnancy to term was the right choice for us, and it allowed us to grow into people who were eventually ready to be parents.

"I am the dad, the husband, the brother, the son and the friend I am today because my wife and I had the freedom to make choices about our future."

Garin, 44, Arizona

Garin has a 5-year-old daughter and used to be an architecture and theatrical lighting designer. Now, he and his wife are co-directors of Patient Forward, a non-profit working to decriminalize abortion and pregnancy outcomes.

"My wife had an abortion in 2016. Our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. And our second pregnancy was a complicated pregnancy, as my wife was high risk.

"Around 30 weeks, we found out that the pregnancy wasn't viable. We decided to get an abortion, but we found out we couldn't get an abortion in New York, where we lived, because of the law at the time. We had to fly to Boulder, Colorado for care.

"My wife had brain surgery the year before, and her doctor wanted to monitor her throughout her pregnancy, insisting she receive any type of care in New York. So she got a feticide injection in Colorado, then we had to fly back to New York to have the rest of the procedure in a hospital.

"Because my wife was able to access care — because we were privileged enough to be able to fly across the country — we were able to go on to have a healthy pregnancy. About a month or two after my wife had her abortion, she was able to get pregnant again. So we really wouldn't have the kid that we have today if she wasn't able to access abortion care.

"We just need full-throated support for abortion access from everyone in the country. It doesn't matter whether you think it's your issue or not. Because trust me: It is. And if you care about the people in your life — if you care about their health and safety and you don't want them to be criminalized for accessing care — then you need to get off the bench."

Jacob, 46, Washington

Jacob is an operations manager for a non-profit that provides hunger relief and food service-based training for people experiencing homelessness. He has two children, ages 7 and 2.

"About three and a half years ago, I was arrested. I went to a football game with friends, had too much to drink and was obnoxious and found myself being escorted out. I struggled, and ended up being arrested for resisting arrest and misdemeanor assault. I was transported to the country jail, but thankfully wasn't booked because it was right before Christmas.

"I was released, and my wife picked me up. I'd like to say that I can recall all the details of that car ride home, but all I can really say is it was uncomfortable. I put my wife in a pretty precarious position, and my wife wasn't sure she wanted to stick around. My drinking was no longer charming, it was a problem.

"Then, that week, we found out she was pregnant.

"My wife made the decision to terminate. It wasn't unilateral, but she had my full support. I wasn't able to be there for her, nor did she want me to be — and I understood why. I put myself in that position. We were father apart than we had ever been.

"But I was very lucky. The abortion gave me the time and space to get myself regulated. And it allowed us to take the time we needed to heal our relationship and our family. Since then, we've added another member to our family. Now, we can parent the children we have with the focus and clarity they deserve.

"Generally, I don't talk about my personal life that much. I have a therapist for that. But I think that this is something that is so profoundly important that it can't be kept private. Not talking about access to abortion care and what it means to the bulk of the population is just not acceptable."

Allen, 44, New York

Allen is a brand marketing and innovation consultant and a father of two, ages 7 and 4.

"After one child, we wanted a second. My wife got pregnant and things were going well enough into the second trimester. During that phase, at one of her sonogram visits, it became clear that the child no longer had a heartbeat. It was a heart-wrenching experience. We were crushed.

"My wife scheduled a procedure for a few days later, where the fetus was removed. Those few days were so painful. As were the days and months that followed. I can only imagine how much more traumatic the experience would have been if we were forced to wait for her body to expel the body on its own.

"Eventually, we had a second child. Raising children in New York is challenging, expensive and all-consuming. Having two children is the family we wanted. My wife was on birth control, but two years later we discovered she was pregnant again. Together, we decided to terminate the pregnancy. I was so grateful. It's hard to imagine how we'd have fit the pieces together with a third child.

"I'm horrified at the thought of the end of Roe v Wade. I feel lucky that it won't affect me personally, as I'm kind of beyond those years and scheduling a vasectomy as we speak. But what will this mean for young women I know, or friends with children?

"It's the people who need it most, who have the fewest resources and opportunity available, that will be the most affected. This whole thing is stupid."

Peter, 35, Massachusetts

Peter is a lawyer and father of one.

"I have had two partners who (have had) an abortion. The first instance ... although difficult to reckon with at the time, I feel it enabled me to gain experiences — personal and professional — that I would not have otherwise been able to gain.

"I also would not have found my wife and be the more emotionally mature father that I am to my child.

"The second instance was recently, after already having one child. Although a still difficult decision, I feel it has allowed me to be a better father. The foreseeable exhaustion and resentment and discord that would have come with a second child we weren’t ready for would have come at the detriment to not only me and my wife, but my existing child as well.

"Access to health care including abortion is important to cisgender men and fathers, in large part because of the impact it has on the people we care about and love."

Roy, 47, Colorado

Roy is a data engineer and father of four, ages 9, 7, 4 and 1.

"In my son's case, what we ultimately faced was really only when he would die. There wasn’t an if. Those kinds of decisions are something that no one ever wants to face. 

"My appreciation for the healthy and happy children we have is empowered by the one we lost. I will never forget my son, and losing a loved and wanted child is something I wouldn’t wish on any parent or person.

"One of the reasons my family first chose to speak out was because of how situations like ours and others were mischaracterized politically. It’s important to remember there are no medical reasons to limit abortion care. Only political ones. When you start to game out in your mind what is going to happen in states that prohibit abortion care, or 'traveling to states that allow it,' the future begins to look very dark indeed.  

"Abortion is a fundamental human right that only actually applies to slightly less than half the human population. But when it is taken away from that half, so to speak, it is taken away from all of us.  

"The government shouldn’t be intimately involved in some of the most important, personal, medical and family decisions that any person will make in their life. These decisions are hard enough on their own, much less with the government scrutinizing every detail."

Andrew, 35, Washington

Andrew is a product manager and father of two, ages 2 and 9 months.

"My wife had an abortion right before we met. We met at Berkeley, and college was our way towards a brighter future and more opportunities than our parents, who immigrated from the Philippines. If she hadn't displayed the courage in what I can only imagine was a really tough decision, we wouldn't have our beautiful children and life we have today.

"Access to abortion means that families, and especially women, can choose how and when they want to bring children into this world and raise them. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and resources, and that's coming from someone like myself who is very privileged to work in tech.

"My wife's abortion before we met was a choice that allowed us to build a life together, by design rather than default. We are healthy parents to our children because of that abortion."