Adolescent men whose partners have abortions benefit from those abortions for decades, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. About 25% of women have had an abortion, suggesting a similar number of men have benefited from a partner’s abortion. Yet media coverage of abortion consistently treats it as a women’s issue. Abortion is a men’s issue, too. If restrictive legislation goes into effect, men might finally gain an understanding of the ways they have silently benefited from abortion—and from women’s activism to protect abortion.
Male-led coalitions in states such as Georgia and Alabama have sought to shut down state abortion clinics, and have successfully passed legislation banning the procedure. When abortion is framed as a women’s issue, some men do not care. So it’s important for men to speak about the ways they’ve benefited from abortion.
How Men Reap the Financial and Educational Benefits of Abortion
The study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which began in 1994. The study included data on 597 men whose partners got pregnant before the age of 20, and followed up with them four times over more than two decades.
The study examined life histories and outcomes for 460 men whose partners gave birth, and compared them to 137 men whose partners chose an abortion. The analysis adjusted for factors such as age, race, and family structure that might affect life outcomes.
When researchers followed up with the men between 2007 and 2008, just 5.8% of those whose partners had given birth graduated college, compared to 22.1% whose partners had an abortion. About a third (32.4%) whose partners gave birth reported some college, compared to more than half (58.5%) of men whose partners chose an abortion.
Men whose partners had an abortion also earned higher incomes—an average of $38,638 per year compared to $32,941 annually among men whose partners gave birth.
This data, the study asserts, shows that abortion can benefit men for decades.
“Given what we know about the links between education and future income, it is likely that the wage gap will widen as these men age, allowing men whose partners reported abortions to continue to reap financial benefits from access to abortion,” said lead study author Bethany G. Everett in a press release.
Abortion as a Social Good
An accelerating avalanche of research points to the many benefits of abortion for women. Women who have abortions have better health five years later than those who are denied abortions. They are less likely to need government assistance, to stay in abusive relationships, to live in poverty, or to suffer from mental health afflictions. Abortion regret is rare, and the most common emotion women report following an abortion is relief.
Abortion also saves lives. The United States has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world. It is more dangerous to give birth in Georgia—a state that just passed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bans--than it is to give birth in 100 nations, including Iraq. Maternal deaths are not inevitable, as evidenced by the much lower death rates in European nations. Many are the direct result of inadequate or incompetent medical care. Yet supposedly pro-life Republicans have done nothing to save pregnant women’s lives, even as the death doll mounts. Research consistently links restrictive abortion policies to a higher maternal death rate, because banning abortion does not stop it; it only drives it underground.
The anti-choice movement won’t listen to women, even when they’re dying of preventable pregnancy complications. It’s time for men to speak out about how abortion has improved their lives, protected their partners, and given them a chance at a happy, healthy family.