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 CNS Story:

FATHERHOOD Sep-21-2007 (830 words) With photo. xxxn

'Reclaiming Fatherhood' movement aims to help men touched by abortion

By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- It took a long time for attorney Chris Aubert to miss his children -- the ones he lost to abortion.

But once he did -- and it took the better part of a decade -- he was ready to make his choice for life.

Aubert is scheduled to speak at a "Reclaiming Fatherhood" conference Nov. 28-29 in San Francisco, funded by the Knights of Columbus and co-sponsored by the Knights and the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

It is being organized by the Milwaukee-based Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, headed by Vicki Thorn, and according to the office, the event is the first to focus on the effects of abortion on men.

The conference, according to Thorn, could help men dealing with the psychological trauma of post-abortion reality the way Project Rachel -- the post-abortion healing ministry of the Catholic Church Thorn founded -- has helped women who have undergone abortions deal with their own psychological scars.

Aubert, in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service from The Woodlands, Texas, a Houston suburb, said that in 1985, when he first impregnated a woman who was " a friend, but not really a girlfriend, I was not a one-woman man, let's say, at the time, and I had no qualms about premarital sex or anything like that."

Nor did he have any qualms about her decision to have an abortion. "She got the abortion. I did not go. It was a complete and total nonevent for me," he said. "My thinking was at the time this was just a collection of nonviable tissue cells, it's perfectly legal, it's her body -- all the things today I find as laughably silly. I bought into it." He never saw the woman again.

Much the same was true in 1991, six years later, when he got his girlfriend pregnant. "I had just been civilly divorced outside the church and I was not ready to get married again. She was a Methodist, I was a 'nothing.'" Nominally Jewish, Aubert said his bar mitzvah in 1970 was the last time he had stepped into a synagogue. "She had no quarrel with the abortion. I said, 'Fine with me,'" he recalled.

There was a difference, though, between the two abortions.

"This time, however, I did go into the clinic with her. I went into the waiting room with her," Aubert said. "Looking back, it was probably something very, very deep within me that said, 'Something about this isn't right.' I wouldn't have been able to articulate it if you asked me. ... Something about the second one seems different."

Thorn told CNS in a Sept. 19 interview that research indicates men go through their own physical changes as they go through pregnancy with their mate. One is a lessening of testosterone. Men also bond more closely with their mate after childbirth and are willing to make sacrifices to solidify the family unit: "I'll make that midnight run for diapers, and, honey, since I'm out, do you want any Starbucks?" Those changes, Thorn added, are short-circuited in an abortion.

Men may react by withdrawing -- "they don't talk about their feelings like women," Thorn noted -- but also by trying to impregnate a woman again, she said.

Aubert and his girlfriend drifted apart, which he attributes to the abortion. Then he met his current wife, whom he described as "a cradle Catholic," and got married. Within two months she was pregnant.

"The abortions started to eat away at me a little bit" by then, Aubert told CNS. At the doctor's office upon viewing the ultrasound of the child his wife was carrying, Aubert said he blurted out, "I want to meet the person that wants to debate with me whether this is a baby or not."

"This flood of emotion came back. I realized I killed two of my kids," Aubert said. "I didn't mention this to my wife, but I was just devastated by it, just devastated. I had killed two of my kids."

Aubert, who became a Catholic in 1997, said it still took him a few years to work up the nerve to talk about the abortions at confession. When he did, he added, "I was a weeping mess. It was horrible. I ended up telling my wife. She could not have been any nicer or more understanding."

Aubert said he talks about the prospective father's role in abortion "on a micro level, every day. On a macro level, once every few weeks I've done it. It might be crisis pregnancy centers, youth conferences, men's groups."

He recalls giving two addresses in one day, first in the afternoon to the crisis pregnancy organization Birthright at its Texas state meeting, and that evening to a Catholic group's benefit diner.

- - -

Editor's Note: More information on the "Reclaiming Fatherhood" conference is available at www.menandabortion.info.


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