Many men accompany women to counselling at Children by Choice.
When asked how they feel about the decision making process, they have said things like:
A man may feel uncertain about decision making with an unplanned pregnancy because this is one of very few decisions in life where the man is not the major or even an equal decision maker. It is important to acknowledge this with the woman involved, that you understand that this decision is about her body. She is the central decision maker and you are the supporter. She is the only person with the legal right to consent to the abortion procedure and so is the only one with the legal right to decide if the pregnancy continues.
Research indicates that it is important for a woman to receive support for her decision from someone who is close to her. If you are close to her she is likely to want you to be closely involved. One man writes “we need to show each other that we are there to support each other”.
If you are looking for ways to best support her, ask her what she needs.
If she wants to talk, listen. If she wants to be alone, it’s okay to leave. What she wants may change over time, so keep checking in. One man writes, “we should communicate more openly and I should be more supportive with my partner when she is upset and crying.”
The woman is likely to ask you how you feel about the pregnancy. Relationships and support are key issues that women think about when deciding between pregnancy options. It is best to be honest, while concentrating on your own role – avoid “you should” and “why don’t you” and talk about your own thoughts, “I’m thinking…”, "I'm worried about..." or “I would like to…”. Remember that you don’t need to have the answers, you need to raise questions. One man writes, “I needed to do more decision making before being so certain.” Another writes, “I think talking may improve the situation.”
Another issue that can happen with an unplanned pregnancy, is that one or both of you may have thought or said things about parenting or abortion or adoption in the past, but when a pregnancy actually happens and becomes a real and personal issue, you think differently. It is important to see this as a natural and valid part of the decision. No-one really knows how they will react until it happens to them. One man writes, “just wanted to know that my partner would consider my reasons why and express hers.”
To make a good decision it is important to have accurate information. Abortion, child support, adoption, teenage mothers, divorce … there is a long list of issues where media hype, stereotypes, and misinformation surround us. You may also have personal experiences or the story of a friend of a friend at the front of your mind. Give yourself time and space to gather information and deal with your own suitcase of history… One man writes, “Processing, planning, coping with the road ahead.”
If you have no history of making joint decisions as a couple, or your relationship is rocky, the decision making journey may be very new, difficult, or overwhelming. One man writes, “Given the extent of work that is required in the relationship, it’s the most appropriate decision.” Another writes, “we still have a lot to think about”. Another writes, “still confused, we have some work to do to help us make a decision.”
Deciding whether to continue a pregnancy or not is a decision made under the pressure of time. The optimum time to have an abortion is during the first trimester, before the availability, cost, and procedure become more complex in Queensland. This means that there is only a short time to process mixed emotions, communicate with each other, plan for the future, and reach an informed decision.
Decision making in issues like this can be hard, and sometimes it's difficult to know how to even begin. See our tips for opening up the discussion here.