International Men’s Day: 7 ways to be a male ally on abortion

Protesters outside of the Argentine Senate on August 8, 2018, when a bill to legalize abortion was being debated.

Abortion’s got nothing to do with men, right? Wrong. So, so wrong. 

This International Men’s Day (19 November) is all about men leading by example, and a great way you can do that is by being a fantastic male ally when it comes to abortion. Here are seven tips to get you started:

1. No judgement

If your partner, friend, relative or anyone else in your life is considering an abortion, never judge them or try to sway their decision – and if she wants to talk to you about it, just listen. Deciding whether or not to have an abortion is a deeply personal choice, and it must ultimately be one made by the woman who is pregnant. 

2. Respect her decision 

Once a woman has decided to have an abortion, respect that choice. Her body is her own, and she must always be in control of what happens to it. If a woman you know has decided abortion is the right path for her, trust that she knows what she is doing.  

3. Offer to be there

If someone close to you is having an abortion, offer to accompany them to the clinic, or to meet up some time after. They might just want and need your company, and a friendly ear to listen to them. Equally, if they wish to be alone, that’s OK too. 

4. Accept her emotions...

Having an abortion can be an emotional experience for a woman. Whether they seem happy, sad, relieved, angry, scared or any other emotion – or none at all – accept their feelings and do not judge or question their reactions. Their emotions and feelings are unique to them alone.

5. ...and your own

Abortions can be very emotional experiences for men too. If your partner is considering one, or has had one, it is important to communicate respectfully with her about what you are going through. Or you might want to talk to someone else about it instead. Consider seeing a counsellor who can help you process your feelings healthily. 

6. Consider the cost

Abortion procedures can be costly, which often leads to additional stress for those seeking one. If you were involved in the pregnancy then offer to share the financial burden so it’s one less thing for the woman to worry about. 

7. Talk about it

Abortion is an everyday procedure that many women will experience, but it is still shrouded in stigma in many circles. We all have a responsibility to break that stigma and to educate ourselves, and this can start with something as simple as striking up a conversation with a friend about abortion. 

Want to know how to do this? Pledge your voice to I Decide, IPPF’s movement for safe abortion access for all – we’ll send you all the resources you need to get you started. You can also find videos explaining the different types of abortion, personal testimonies, frequently asked questions (with answers!), podcasts, reports and much more.  

Got more recommendations to add to the list? Let us know! 

IPPF is a key player in the fight for safe abortion worldwide. In 2017, our projects averted 1.7 million unsafe abortions, and we delivered nearly 5 million abortion-related services globally.