Support After Abortion announces new virtual men’s healing initiative

Support After Abortion announces new virtual men’s healing initiative

Support After Abortion announces new virtual men’s healing initiative

NORTH PORT, FL—Technology meets mental health in a new online program designed to help men who struggle emotionally after a partner’s abortion.

Support After Abortion, a non-profit which is building a national network of virtual healing options, launched a weekly Zoom meeting that merges anonymous group therapy practices with modern networking technology for men who feel hidden by the politics and cultural perceptions of abortion.

“We developed Base Camp to address the realities of men’s experience and capture the success model of recovery groups,” said Greg Mayo, who lost two children to abortion and leads the weekly calls. “The Zoom medium gives us the ability to welcome these men where they are, which is important because they often feel like they are alone in their struggles. Worse, many have been told their opinion doesn’t matter, so they wonder if they are allowed to feel the isolation, depression, and shame that often come from after-abortion challenges.”

Base Camp was developed in light of Support After Abortion’s nationally representative men’s survey data and supported by thousands of calls to the group’s After Abortion Help Line. More than seven in 10 men whose partner had an abortion reported adverse personal changes; and 78% of pro-choice men said they sought someone to talk to or could have used help after a partner’s abortion. But just 18% of men knew where to find after-abortion healing support.

Men may participate in Base Camp at any stage of their healing journey, and everyone is anonymous, said Mayo. “Participants frequently keep their cameras off and identities secret. The option to be anonymous is critical to creating opportunities for vulnerability, which creates a better healing experience for everyone because healing isn’t a one-and-done proposition.”

Base Camp is already impacting men. Anecdotes shared anonymously and with permission include the following:

  • “I’ve been to therapy and different types of meetings but never really talked about the abortion.”
  • It’s about healing ourselves. There’s pain that is felt and it’s real and it needs to be dealt with.
  • I shouldn’t have to fight to prove my own feelings of pain. And I won’t do it anymore.
  • I know I have to find healing and stop trying to medicate the pain and run from it.
  • “It was a relief to be told and, more importantly, to accept that I had been forgiven. What was challenging was talking about the taking of another life…my unborn child. So I stuffed it and that was a huge mistake. It just festered and got infected until I got it out.
  • “I want to share my story but I have to be able to protect my anonymity.” – participant with camera off
  • “She wanted the baby. I didn’t want to get married. But after I went into a deep suicidal depression. No one told me the abortion would affect me like that. It was supposed to solve the problem.”

Men struggling after abortion may participate in Base Camp on Tuesdays at 12 p.m. Eastern. Men who cannot participate in Base Camp may anonymously contact Support After Abortion for 1-on-1 counseling and care here.

How Abortion May Impact Grandparents

How Abortion May Impact Grandparents

Every abortion experience is unique to the people involved – the reasons that led to the termination, the emotions of the woman and man involved, who they tell or don’t tell, and the response and emotions of their family, friends, and others. We refer to this last part as the ripple effect of abortion

Holidays can be challenging for anyone coping with hard emotions, even when the holidays aren’t that well known, like Grandparents Day, which is coming up on September 10. While Grandparents Day doesn’t have the same level of national celebration as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, it may still trigger intense feelings for those who are grieving the loss of their grandchildren.


These words from our clients show the struggles that grandparents may go through following a daughter’s abortion or a son’s experience of abortion through a partner’s termination. 

For some, the struggle is often two-fold: helping their daughter or son and coping with their own emotions and grief about the loss of their grandchild(ren):

I’m worried about my daughter. She had an abortion a few months back, and it’s making her mental health struggle from an old trauma worse. I want to help her, but I don’t know how. I’m hurting for my daughter and hurting from the abortion she had and the loss of our grandchild. – Grandfather

I’m not sure where to get support. My grandchild was aborted yesterday, and I’m absolutely shattered. We offered to support her if she wanted to raise the child. My son begged her to let him raise it if she didn’t want to; we begged her. I don’t know if my son will ever be okay. Please tell me what to do for him and for us. – Grandmother

My wife and daughter arranged the abortion without saying anything to me. I only found out when our daughter starting having severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts because of her abortion. I’m so hurt and angry about what happened, scared for my daughter, and sad about the baby. We’re helping her get the therapy and care she needs, but I need to talk to someone to help me deal with my thoughts and feelings. – Grandfather

Some are only focused on helping their children for now:

I’m not calling for me; I’m calling for my daughter. She has been suffering and struggling after an abortion for a long time. – Grandmother

I’m calling to get some information to help my daughter who recently had an abortion. She’s very emotional. I want to find help for her. I’m not yet dealing with my own feelings about the loss of our grandchild, right now I just need to help her. – Grandmother

Some grandparents struggle with the role they may have played in the abortion:

My adult daughter is struggling horribly emotionally after her abortion. Now I am living with the regret of not helping her see other options. I want to help her and also deal with my own grief. – Grandmother

Do you have any resources to help me? I’m struggling with my involvement with my daughter’s abortion. – Grandmother

Some grandparents feel isolated and alone in their grief due to their daughter’s or son’s desire for privacy. 

I can’t talk to anyone about my feelings about losing a grandchild or anything about the situation. I have to grieve in silence because my daughter doesn’t want anyone to know. – Grandmother

I’m calling to get help dealing with my emotions after my daughter’s abortion. My husband doesn’t want to talk about it, my daughter doesn’t want anyone to talk about it, but I’m hurting. She’s hurting. Our whole family is hurting. I can’t keep it bottled up. I need someone safe and anonymous to talk to. – Grandmother


Grandparents’ emotions after their daughter’s or son’s abortion experience(s) can be further complicated by parent/child relationship stressors, how they learned about the abortion(s), their own role in the abortion(s), whether or not their daughter or son is open to talking about it, whether they’ve been asked to keep it secret, whether or not their daughter or son is experiencing physical or mental health issues, and many other factors.

Regardless of what factors may apply, if you are a grandparent impacted by abortion, we’re so sorry for your loss. Know that YOU MATTER. While you weren’t the person who experienced abortion, you may experience depression, sadness, anger, regret, and other strong emotions. You deserve to get the support that you need.


Grief is simply a part of being human that impacts some people more than others and some people benefit from help working through their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. That’s exactly what abortion healing provides – an opportunity to work through emotions, grieve loss(es), share stories, and find closure. 

The way that looks is completely up to each individual and the options they prefer. Sometimes it’s talking one-on-one with a trained abortion healing provider or counselor. It could be a support group led by a peer facilitator using a structured program, curriculum, or book. It could be a self-guided online program. You may want anonymity, in-person, virtual, religious, secular, etc. All these options are available so that each person can receive the type of support that works best for them. Abortion healing is not necessarily one-and-done, and a person may prefer different healing options at different stages of their personal journey.

Whether you have experienced abortion yourself or have been impacted by someone else’s abortion, if you are struggling emotionally, you matter. You deserve support. 


Reach out to our After Abortion Line by online chat, phone, text, email, or messaging on Facebook or Instagram. We offer free, confidential, compassionate support. We can connect you to the healing resource that best meets your preferences. Check out our website for information, videos, self-guided healing, and more for women and men.


While each person’s story is unique, sometimes it helps to hear what others have gone through. Click here for the story of one grandmother’s experience of the abortion of her first grandchild and the keys to her hope, healing, and recovery. 



About the Author

Michele serves as Communications Manager for Support After Abortion. She and her husband have experienced reproductive loss through three miscarriages and stillborn twins. They live in Greenville, SC with their three daughters.

 © Support After Abortion

I wouldn’t know what to say…Compassionate Conversation Training

I wouldn’t know what to say…Compassionate Conversation Training


I work behind the scenes at Support After Abortion. I don’t speak at conferences, facilitate support groups, or work on our After Abortion Line, so my role doesn’t involve conversations with clients or others who are hurting from abortion. Even in my non-work life, speaking directly with someone struggling with strong emotions or challenging circumstances is rare. One of my sisters is a nurse, another works at a homeless shelter, and my mom used to work with refugees, but me? I observe, research, write, and create materials that help others do what they do. Often I think I could never do that. I wouldn’t know what to say. It would probably be uncomfortable. What if I said the wrong thing? If I haven’t experienced XYZ, how would I relate and be able to help someone?

I recently had the privilege both in my personal and professional life to speak to people going through challenging circumstances and experiencing strong emotions. I discovered I’ve absorbed a lot more than I realized from listening to and learning from my amazing colleagues. While I was nervous, and felt ill-equipped in the moment, I was able to navigate those conversations. And just this week one of the individuals I talked to told me that our conversation a few months ago was cathartic and a step in their healing journey. That made me feel so humbled and honored to have been entrusted to listen to someone share their painful lived experience and for that to have actually helped them. 


As I reflected on these conversations, I noticed I said or did things that I had heard my colleagues and guests in our monthly Abortion Healing Provider training webinars talk about. If you’re already a whiz at these types of interactions, maybe something will resonate with you or spark a new idea. And, if you’re like me – a total newbie and more than a little timid about engaging with someone who is suffering, maybe you’ll feel a tad more confident about tiptoeing into these waters to stand alongside someone and offer support.


We have a great resource that offers a simple four-step process to follow when you encounter someone who has been impacted by abortion. The steps are:

  1. Examine your judgment
  2. Walk in compassion
  3. Ask if they would like to share their experience
  4. Connect them with support

That rack card talks about the importance of showing compassion, not judging, and being a safe space for someone. But what does that look like? How can we be a safe space

Maybe you’re like me and think it would be too uncomfortable, too outside your box to talk with someone going through something difficult. But the truth is, at some point all of us will have someone tell us something painful – whether it’s that they lost their job, are going through a divorce or medical crisis, or that they’re struggling after abortion. These 4 Steps can be applied toward any conversation. And the more we practice them, the more they’ll become second nature, and the more ready we’ll be for a conversation that takes us by surprise.


In his book Tell Me More About That, author Rob Volpe lays out five steps to empathy. Just like our first step when encountering someone is Examine Your Judgment, Dismantle Judgment is Volpe’s first step to empathy. “Judgment forms a brick wall that blocks your ability to listen to and understand another person,” he says.  Being judgmental, he explains, is when “you are basing your thoughts on your own values and opinions and negatively applying them to someone else,” which he warns “can cause injury and harm to the other person.” He describes dismantling judgment as “checking in to see if I’m being judgmental, asking myself where that thought is coming from, and putting it aside so that I can connect with the individual or group I’m trying to understand.”

We have opportunities to exercise this skill all the time. When someone shares a decision they’ve made or an activity they’re pursuing or their abortion story, if our first thought is some version of why did you do that or I would never do that or I think you’re wrong, pause. Move that thought aside and make space for that person’s reality. Often our first instinct is to ask why. Volpe cautions in his book that this can put people on the defensive, shut them down, and create a wall that makes communication unlikely, if not impossible. Instead, he suggests checking our judgment and saying Tell me more about that.

Several months ago someone shared with me a life-altering decision they had made. The person said, “I know we don’t see eye-to-eye on this.” Prior to learning these healthier, empathetic ways to communicate while working at Support After Abortion, I probably would have asked why and might have tried to dissuade them or focused on why I disagreed. But I was able to say – and mean it – “You’re right, I don’t agree with your choice, but I want to be a safe space for you. And I appreciate your trusting me and talking with me about this. I know this is difficult for you.” As a result, instead of shutting down and possibly wounding our relationship, we were able to have a respectful, real conversation about their feelings, needs, and how I could support them as a person without supporting their decision.

“Taking my own judgment out of the equation helped me open up to hear what [the person] was saying,” Volpe says. “I was able to really understand their perspective and reach empathy.” He also points out that “Just because I understand someone’s point of view doesn’t mean I have to agree with them.” The key is that “empathy and respect lead to more productive conversations and interpersonal relationships.”


I think part of the scariness about encountering someone who is suffering is thinking that their experience and pain is so different from ours that we don’t know what to say or how to connect. 

“We’re all more alike than we are different,” Support After Abortion CEO and licensed mental health therapist Lisa Rowe frequently says. In fact, our speakers often use a slide like the one below in presentations. 









They talk about how we don’t need to have experienced abortion, or the death of a spouse, or abuse to be able to have empathy for someone who has. We all have something in our lives that has caused us pain, anger, sadness, anxiety, regret, etc. And we can tap into those experiences and emotions when we speak to and support others.


There are many elements that factor into being compassionate when speaking with someone. These are five that I’ve heard our team speak about and that I realized later I had incorporated into conversations.


While you don’t want to make it about you, sharing briefly something relatable can help the other person. In preparation for articles I wrote for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I interviewed three women and five men about how their abortion experiences affect them on these holidays. One of the guys messaged ahead of time asking me not to judge him if he got emotional, then he said “just joking, but not really.” I messaged him back and said absolutely no judgment, we’re all about compassion. And it seemed appropriate to share with him that while I hadn’t experienced abortion, I had miscarriages and stillbirths and had great empathy for those suffering after reproductive loss. I shared that it’s been over 25 years, and sometimes I can speak about it without a problem, other times it’s difficult and emotional, and I never know which me will show up, so I get it. He said my sharing that helped him relax and made him feel like I would be able to understand. It’s a balance. Volpe says, “Don’t overshare, but be willing to open up” so people can understand us and trust us as a safe space to share their own experiences. 


I’ve heard our team speak about holding space. Volpe says, “Put the question out there, see where they go with it. Let them fill in the space. Don’t fill the space with your talk. Mostly listen.” I was thankful to have heard this advice in our webinars because a couple of the men went silent after I asked a question, and I wasn’t sure if they didn’t want to talk about that question and would prefer that I move on. But I just stayed silent, holding the space for them. I wondered as the silence lingered if that made it more awkward for them. But one guy said at the end of our interview that he appreciated my patience when he had to mute to gather his thoughts and calm his emotions. I hadn’t even realized he’d muted himself, I only knew he’d gone quiet. You may have the benefit of visual cues if you’re in person or on Zoom. These were phone interviews, so I just waited and trusted the advice.


One man apologized for swearing. I said don’t worry about it and told him about a support group leader who talked in a webinar about his guy’s group meeting and said it’s important for men to be allowed to speak in whatever way they want to get it out, and if that means swearing, that’s what they need. The interviewee said that was so true because if he had to watch his words, he wouldn’t be able to just speak his real pain. This is true for women as well. A relative was recently telling me about a tough situation and apologized for some choice language. I told her the same story about the webinar and she said the same thing as the interviewee – that to tell her story she needed to not have to police the way she was speaking. This really goes back to “don’t make it about you.” A lot of people swear. Maybe you’re like me and don’t swear or hear it much in your daily life, but when someone’s trusting you with their pain and emotions, focus on their heart and the message they’re sharing with you, not the !#@*&% words they’re using.  


A couple of the interviewees meandered from a question I asked and apologized, saying something like you probably don’t want/need to hear all that. I said, “You can tell your story any way you like, it doesn’t have to be just about Father’s day.” They needed to tell their abortion stories before talking about Father’s Day. I’ve heard our team say that for many people talking about their abortion experiences is freeing. Often they don’t have people in their lives they feel comfortable talking to about it and sometimes it’s easier to tell a stranger. Whether it’s a friend, relative, client or stranger opening up to you, let them speak their story in their own way at their own pace.

Similar things happen in our daily lives. You may ask a friend, co-worker, or even a stranger a question and they tell you their mom’s in the hospital or they’re going through a divorce or struggling with a major plumbing problem at home. Take the time to be present to them. Walk in compassion. You can start by saying I’m so sorry you’re going through that. Would you like to talk about it? Then listen and respond with compassion. 

I had this experience early this past spring while walking in a nature park. I live in the south, so it’s very common for strangers to chat, and we started talking about the blooming flowers. I expected a brief, cheerful conversation. She shared that she had moved from up north where it would still be snowing for several more weeks. But when I asked how long she had lived here, she teared up. She shared that she and her husband of over 50 years had moved less than a year ago from the only place they had lived, then he got sick and had just passed away a few weeks before. Wow. That changed our simple chat. I found myself saying I’m so sorry for your loss. Would you like to tell me about him? Then we had a beautiful, connecting conversation. 


Volpe encourages listening for key words people use and mirroring that same language. “It helps build a connection,” he says, “and makes the other person feel more comfortable.” One key example of this in after-abortion conversations is to listen for how they refer to the other person involved in the pregnanc(ies) that ended in abortion(s) – boyfriend, girlfriend, ex, husband, wife, partner, etc. Also listen to how they describe others in their story – for example do they say “mom,” “mother,” or “mama?” Then use their terms when you speak. 

Another important cue to pick up on is religion. When someone is grieving – whether an abortion or another loss – often people want to speak about their own faith to comfort the person. However, it’s important to follow that person’s lead. If someone mentions God or their faith – then you might choose to echo that in what you say. For example, the woman in the park talked about God and her faith. So I knew it would be a safe space for her if I did, too. But if she hadn’t mentioned God, I would not have brought it up. In the same way, if the person you’re talking to shares that they don’t believe in God, respect that and don’t talk about your faith. Or, for example, if they’re Jewish and you’re Christian, don’t talk about Jesus. If you prefer not to talk about faith or don’t believe in God, but they do, you can reflect back what they say, such as I can see how important that is to you. You can also ask about something they’ve mentioned. You might ask if they’ve talked to anyone or found support in their faith community. The bottom line is to keep the focus on them. 


For a person who has shared with you their struggle after abortion, you can say It’s common for people to need to talk more about their abortion experiences, and tell them about Support After Abortion and how we connect people who are hurting after abortion to resources that best fit their preferences. You can share our phone number (844.289.HOPE), website (, and/or email (

You can also do this step in non-abortion conversations. The woman I met in the park said she was already attending a grief support group, but she was really missing the camaraderie and connections from her women’s Bible study group where she used to live. She mentioned she isn’t comfortable or knowledgeable about the internet, so I asked her if she would want help with that. She did, so we exchanged email addresses, and when I got home I did some research and sent her options that might fit what she said she wanted. It didn’t matter that we were of different faiths and her desire was a Bible study in her faith. I could help find what she needed. 

I remember a similar, albeit much lighter, connection for someone. A new neighbor moved in and mentioned that her son really missed going fishing, but she had no idea where to take him. I don’t fish, in fact the idea is rather gross to me. But, I know what it feels like to move and to feel lost without the activities you were used to. So I asked friends who do fish for suggestions, and then gave her a list and map of nearby places. They actually went to one the next day and she told me it made her son feel less homesick and more hopeful that their move would be okay.

Whether a person’s grief stems from losing a spouse, a study group, a fishing hole, or experiencing abortion, we can offer support and help connect them to a person or resource that can fill their need.


The power of saying, Thank you for sharing that with me. This can’t be an easy thing for you. can’t be underestimated,” said the hosts of one of our webinars. While I thanked each interviewee for talking with me, I’ll admit that ending the first interview felt really awkward. I’d come to the end of my questions, so normally I’d say thanks and wrap it up pretty easily. But after spending 45 minutes talking and listening to him vulnerably share his story and his pain, I honestly didn’t know what to say after I thanked him. So I just owned it. I repeated what I’d said at the start of our call – that this was my first time talking directly with someone who had experienced abortion who wasn’t connected to Support After Abortion. And I just said, “I really appreciate your talking with me and sharing so much from your heart what you’ve experienced and how you’re hurting from this. I’m so sorry for your loss. I have to admit that it feels really weird that you’ve shared so deeply and now I’m going to say what – bye, have a nice life?” He laughed and said it was a little weird for him, too. But he also said he really appreciated being be able to talk about what he’s gone through. 

I think it helps in closing the conversation to remember what Rowe says about how we’re more alike than we are different and Volpe’s suggestions for treating people with respect and empathy. Let the interaction guide the ending. A sincere Thank you for sharing with me and I’m so sorry for your loss will go a long way.


Sometimes you may need to talk through your own emotions after these types of conversations, while honoring confidentiality by not sharing names or identifiable details. I’ve heard our team members talk about how they support one another when they’re affected by a client’s situation and struggles. It’s part of their healthy self-care, as processing their feelings rather than just pushing through helps prevent burnout and assures they’ll be able to be fully present for the next client. Since this was my first experience hearing someone’s words and raw emotions, I was a bit emotional myself. So I called a team member who has worked with clients for years. I asked her if it gets easier. She said it does, although some people’s experiences are so painful and their grief so profound that it’s good for “helpers” to be able to process their own feelings with someone. I also told her about the awkwardness at the end and asked how she closes calls. It was reassuring for her to say that sometimes after a person’s deep sharing, closing the conversation feels awkward to her, too. Being able to talk through my thoughts and feelings after hearing about someone’s struggles and pain was helpful, and I felt stronger and ready for the next interview. 


The next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone who is struggling with a situation or circumstance – whether they’re hurting after abortion or something else – try the 4 Step Process. Examine your judgment, walk in compassion, ask if they would like to share their experience, and connect them with support. In showing compassion, be vulnerable, hold space, ignore language, take your time, and pick up on their cues. And if you need it, without sharing anything identifiable about the person who trusted you with their story, talk through your own thoughts and emotions with someone. While we may still feel a little nervous about engaging in conversations with people who are grieving or experiencing tough challenges, these steps can help everyone support someone.

If you have experienced or been impacted by abortion and would like to talk with someone, reach out to our After Abortion Line by online chat, phone, text, email or messaging on Facebook or Instagram. We offer free, confidential, compassionate support. We can connect you to the healing resource that best meets your preferences – that may be counseling, support group, virtual, in person, religious, secular, etc.

If you are an abortion healing provider or would like to learn more about providing after-abortion support, explore our Provider Training Center and attend our free monthly Abortion Healing Provider webinars.


About the Author

Michele serves as Communications Manager for Support After Abortion. She and her husband have experienced reproductive loss through three miscarriages and stillborn twins. They live in Greenville, SC with their three daughters.


© Support After Abortion


The Intersection of Generational Trauma and Abortion

The Intersection of Generational Trauma and Abortion

Just like passing down the hurt, we can pass down the healing, and help prevent future pain.

Oh wow, that was just like my mom (or dad)!  We often hear our parents echoed in our words, thoughts, and behaviors. It might be a phrase we say, a focus on good grades, or a career choice like following in the footsteps of a parent’s and grandparent’s military service. It might be behaviors we copy because that’s what mom or dad did – like the way we fold towels, let people enter traffic ahead of us, keep food and water in the car to offer homeless people we encounter, or run five miles when we’re stressed. We may not even be aware or consciously think about these things. Often they can be endearing signs of family unity. On the other hand, we can also pick up and repeat negative or harmful traits and behaviors. 

What is Generational Trauma?

“Generational trauma is a pattern of behavior that follows from one generation to the next,” says Lisa Rowe, licensed mental health therapist and CEO of Support After Abortion. Rowe named some of the more commonly known generational traumas such as substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, anger, depression, homelessness, and poverty. 

Psychologist Bertrina Olivia West Al-Mahdi, Ph.D. offered other examples of repeating behavioral patterns in Men’s Health magazine, such as having “frugal or overindulgent spending habits,” or “eating unhealthy food because it’s more affordable.” 

Family patterns of seeing “discussing feelings as a sign of weakness,” being “emotionally numb,” or being “anxious and overly protective even when there is no threat of danger” are listed as examples of “how trauma affects multiple generations” in a blog by the Austin, Texas counseling group Ensemble Therapy.

Can Abortion be a Trauma?

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) describes trauma as “challenging emotional consequences that living through a distressing event can have for an individual.” 

Al-Mahdi says, “Trauma refers to stress that’s so overwhelming and severe that it impacts your emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and other parts of your well-being.” 

The experiences women and men share with Support After Abortion – on our After Abortion Line, in our Keys to Hope and Healing after-abortion virtual support groups, and at conferences and events – certainly reflect overwhelming and challenging emotional distress, as these client examples show:

I’m dealing with miserable depression, mood swings, and very paralyzing, intrusive thoughts since my abortion. 

I feel so depressed, and I’m struggling massively to sleep, eat, or even think properly. It’s getting worse. I am seriously struggling with my mental health.

I started using marijuana to cope with the emotions, anger, grief, anxiety and depression after my girlfriend’s abortion 10 years ago. The abortion has affected my ability to form and maintain relationships. 

I struggled for 15 years with alcohol and drug abuse, acting out, poor decisions, and destruction after encouraging my girlfriend to have an abortion.

I’m full of regrets and thoughts of suicide because of how much I’m hurting after my abortion. 

CAMH explains, “the same event may be more traumatic for some people than for others.” This is true for abortion, as well. 

While media outlets regularly tell stories of people who share they had no negative effects from their abortions, our research shows that 34% of women and 71% of men report experiencing adverse changes after abortion. 

Can Abortion be a Generational Trauma?

“It seems that teenage pregnancy is generational, as well as abortion,” one former pregnancy center director told Support After Abortion. She said they frequently saw pregnant teen clients being pressured to have abortions by their mothers who said they had also gotten pregnant as a teen and experienced abortion. 

She described family patterns such as older siblings who also got pregnant young. Sometimes they had abortions. Other times the current client is under pressure to have an abortion because “my mom’s already taking care of my sister’s kid(s), and doesn’t want to deal with more.” 

She described the impact of other generational traumas on client abortion decisions. One common variable she saw was the impact of absent fathers. She said some clients felt overwhelmed by the idea of repeating their mother’s and sometimes also grandmother’s single parenting. Other clients – both male and female – would say, “I grew up without a father and I don’t want my child to experience that.”

Rowe said some families are overt in talking about abortion – both family members’ experiences and viewpoints on abortion. In other families, parents and siblings may be silent about their personal experiences, “yet make influential statements such as don’t go to prom and get pregnant, make sure you use protection, and we don’t need any babies around here.” Rowe also said it’s not uncommon for personal stories to be unspoken until another family member is facing an unintended pregnancy or shares their abortion experiences.

Support After Abortion “regularly hears stories of generational traumas and specifically abortion from participants in both our Unraveled Roots and Keys to Hope and Healing virtual support groups,” said Karin Barbito, Special Projects Manager. “In all of the groups I’ve facilitated, clients have shared experiences such as “When I got pregnant, my mom encouraged me to have an abortion because she had one and didn’t think it was a big deal” or “I knew my mom had an abortion, but it wasn’t until I had one that I learned my grandma also had an abortion.”

One Client’s Story of Generational Trauma and Abortion

Jane* shared with Support After Abortion that she grew up knowing her mother miscarried as a teen. “She told us it was a blessing,” Jane said, “and that if we ever ended up pregnant, we’d have to have an abortion.” She learned later after her abortion that her grandmother had told her mom the same thing. 

Jane said even though she had argued with her mom and told her she would never do that, when she got pregnant at 15, she immediately had an abortion. “I was scared, confused, and her words penetrated me more than I thought.” She said she never wanted to do that again, so when she got pregnant at 17, she chose to parent. 

However, Jane described her family as “dysfunctional,” and said “my mom was codependent and my dad had an addiction problem. I grew up looking for validation and love, and started having sex at 13.” She said those repeated patterns of behavior included marrying a man with addiction struggles just like her dad. “I had no support and no money, so I panicked when I got pregnant again, and I had another abortion.” 

Years later when her daughter got pregnant as a teen, Jane was the main influencer in her having an abortion. “Now she’s struggling with the same hurt and pain as my mom and I did,” Jane said.

“It was a long time before I realized how much my abortions and generational traumas had affected me,” she said. As a clinical counselor now, she sees the same patterns with her clients. She says, “We only know what we’ve been taught, what we’ve seen, what’s been modeled. We think I don’t want to be like my mom or dad, but we end up in that same place and don’t know how we got there or how to get out of it.” 

Even after going through years of therapy, Jane said entering after-abortion healing helped her “explore areas I had shoved down for years. And that brought a level of healing also to my mom, my husband, my siblings, and my kids.” The result was “where once dysfunction was embedded in my family, now healing, hope, encouragement, and support is what defines my family.”

What is the Impact of Generational Trauma?

“Generational trauma may affect one’s day-to-day life,” said Al-Mahdi, ”by causing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and other trauma-related symptoms.”

Generational trauma “can affect both your mental and physical wellness,” Psych Central says in an article medically reviewed by Matthew Boland, PhD, “including detachment, impaired self-esteem, estrangement, neglect, abuse, violence, chronic pain, certain illnesses, and behaviors that impact wellness.” 

The article states that these effects of generational trauma may be more pronounced among “people from marginalized groups — such as People of Color and those in lower socioeconomic classes.” This finding is connected to abortion-related generational trauma, as the Guttmacher Institute reports that unintended pregnancy and abortion rates are significantly higher for Black and Hispanic women than for white women and that 75% of abortion patients qualify as poor or low-income according to federal poverty levels.

How can the Cycle of Generational Trauma be Broken?

Having “adequate mental health and addiction care delivered to the adult population – especially those who are having children and raising them – is the best possible way to disrupt [generational trauma],” says Indiana University psychiatrist R. Andrew Chambers, MD in an article in IU Health. The article states that breaking generational cycles involves “understanding the issue, preventing and treating the root issues.”

Rowe advises applying the three-part process of change, often called The 3 A’s – cultivate awareness, which evolves into acceptance, that allows us to take action and make change.  


Rowe explains that awareness “helps you understand where this came from, why you have these certain beliefs, why these behaviors are part of who you are, why you’re in the relationship you’re in, etc.” 

“It’s not about going backward to blame or shame,” Rowe says, “it’s about going backward to raise an understanding of awareness.”

In the Men’s Health article, licensed mental health therapist Chase Cassine says, “Treatment starts with acknowledging what caused the trauma, and how it has negatively affected you and others in your family. 


An example of acceptance, Rowe says, may be recognizing “I was a victim of that experience, I didn’t have an idea of another way, I was afraid, or I didn’t have courage enough to stand up for myself.” 


Taking action often involves “entering into recovery, forgiving ourselves and other people, and engaging in experiences to create new understandings and mindsets,” said Rowe.

“Treatment can help you develop coping skills,” Al-Mahdi says, “and learn to replace outdated or unwanted behaviors.”

Support After Abortion’s Unraveled Roots: Exposing the Hidden Causes of Damaging Behavior is one effective way to dig deeper and gain awareness behind behaviors, past events, and generational traumas. As one client shared: 

Recently in my Unraveled Roots group I had an awakening, so to speak. I have been so focused on healing from the aftermath of my abortion that I neglected the trauma that came before it – the abandonment I felt, the abuse I endured, and the dysfunction I grew up in. Unraveled Roots helped to put the pieces together as to why I even got to the point where I was facing the abortion decision in the first place. My trauma was so much deeper than I imagined.

Supporting People Working through Generational Trauma

“People working through generational trauma need support, compassion, and empathy, as well as grace for mistakes and relapses,” Rowe said. 

Often this support must come from outside the family unit. A discussion by the Duke University Office for Institutional Equity about the PsychCentral article previously mentioned states, “A parent or grandparent who never truly healed from or explored their own trauma may find it very difficult to provide emotional support to a family member suffering from his or her own trauma.” They explain that many families use “unhealthy coping mechanisms” such as denying or minimizing the trauma, which can “set the precedence for younger generations.”

“Creating space and supporting the coping needs of people who come from lineages of trauma is often the best move,” according to PsychCentral, “rather than attempting to ‘fix’ or remove the pain.

In dealing with the intersection of generational trauma and abortion, “we need to be able to see the person and not the word abortion,” Rowe said, “It’s a human issue – we have to see the woman or man.” She continued, “Learning and understanding their why is important. It’s about helping them find healing to break the generational cycle.”

In a webinar on generational trauma and Black women, Jerrilyn Sanders of the Chalmers Center, which focuses on addressing broken relationships at the root of poverty, advised, “Don’t overlook what’s below the iceberg. There are layers of things below what you see.” She also emphasized the need to “understand that how people got here is so often not a result of their own individual decisions. They’re trapped in cycles without power or ability to make choices for themselves.”

Shay Basset, also of the Chalmers Center urged people, especially providers, to “create an atmosphere of safety and community” and to “Hear me first before crafting this narrative about me. Know me and my story before you form an opinion about who you think I am. Hear me before you help me.” Some tips she offered:

  • Remember and use the person’s name.
  • Share a meal with them, it helps tear down walls.
  • Be willing to be uncomfortable together.
  • Work through your own biases and ideas of the other person.
  • Share your own fears and vulnerabilities – not just hear their plight.
  • Discern and acknowledge the person’s strengths so they can feel valued, seen, and heard.
Toward a Healthier Future

Generational trauma impacts self-perception, relationships, parenting, communities, and abortion decisions. For those who are negatively impacted, it’s important to acknowledge and understand their experiences, and provide access to mental health care and healing resources to help them restore well-being.

“As with any form of healing or intervention, there is no one path to healing intergenerational trauma and no set definition of what it means to heal,” says PsychCentral. “Through examining what intergenerational trauma you may carry, you have the opportunity to pass along new healthy coping skills to the next generation.”

“Women and men facing unintended pregnancies are making a monumental decision in a cloud of trauma, fear, isolation, and grief,” said Rowe. “Many have generational trauma, previous abortion experiences, codependency, and other risk factors themselves, as well as within their families and circles of influence.”

Working to identify hidden patterns, behaviors, and significant past events that may be impacting today’s thoughts, actions, and decisions is crucial to breaking cycles of trauma, including abortion, and paving the way for different choices in the future.

* Name changed to protect privacy.

Next Steps

Our resource Unraveled Roots: Exposing the Hidden Causes of Damaging Behaviors helps individuals identify the root causes behind damaging choices and patterns to change their life and legacy by establishing new, healthier patterns one small step at a time. Resources include book, journal, client videos, facilitator’s guide, and facilitator training videos. A self-guided course is available for those who would like to explore on their own. And virtual support groups are available for those who would like to dig deeper along with others and a trained facilitator. There is hope. Change is possible. Life can be different.

About Support After Abortion

Support After Abortion is a nonprofit dedicated to helping men and women impacted after abortion by (1) connecting them with healing options they prefer, and (2) equipping providers with curriculum, resources, and trainings. Support After Abortion’s free resources include an After Abortion Help Line, a national therapist and counseling directory, and an introductory abortion healing program.

About the Author

Michele serves as Communications Manager for Support After Abortion. She and her husband have experienced reproductive loss through three miscarriages and stillborn twins. They live in Greenville, SC with their three daughters.



Sweeney, Erica, “17 Signs of Generational Trauma, According to Therapists,” Men’s Health, 23 Mar 2023 (Accessed 7 Jul 2023)

Ensemble Therapy, “What is Generational Trauma and How Can We Heal From It?”  (Accessed 7 Jul 2023)

“Trauma,” Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, (Accessed 7 Jul 2023)

National Abortion Studies, Support After Abortion / ShapardResearch, 2021 (Accessed 7 Jul 2023) 

Ryder, Gina and White, Taneasha, “Inter-generational Trauma: 6 Ways It Affects Families,” PsychCentral, Updated 15 Apr 2022,, (Accessed 7 Jul 2023)

“Induced Abortion in the United States,” Guttmacher Institute, Sep 2019, (Accessed 8 Jul 2023)

Generational Trauma: Breaking the Cycle of Adverse Childhood Experiences,” Indiana University Health, 23 Mar 2021, (Accessed 7 Jul 2023)

Duke Office for Institutional Equity, “Inter-generational Trauma: 6 Ways It Affects Families,” (Accessed 7 Jul 2023)

“Love & Trauma: The Unique Challenges of Black Mothers,” Her Plan Webinar, 28 Feb 2023. (Accessed 8 Jul 2023)

Navigating the Pain of Abortion Loss on Father’s Day

Navigating the Pain of Abortion Loss on Father’s Day

Five men share their abortion loss struggles, tips for men, and suggestions for family & friends

“Men who have lost children to abortion can find Father’s Day celebrations challenging,” said after-abortion healing expert Greg Mayo, who lost two children to abortion and leads Support After Abortion’s National Men’s Task Force. 

“Men’s emotions and grief around abortion are often ignored or dismissed,” continued Mayo. “But their pain and feelings are real, and on Father’s Day their thoughts often go to their missing children perhaps even while celebrating the joy of the day with their living children.”

Support After Abortion’s national survey of men who experienced abortion through a partner’s termination found that 71% of men report adverse changes after abortion, such as depression, anxiety, and anger. 

Five men whose abortion experiences range from three months to 44 years ago shared their Father’s Day struggles, tips for navigating the day, and suggestions for how family and friends can be supportive.

Father’s Day Can be a Struggle for Men after Abortion

Mayo’s two abortion experiences three decades ago really hit him years later when his son was born two weeks before Father’s Day. “I was sitting there holding him,” Mayo said, “and became acutely aware there were two children who weren’t there. I pushed it down because I didn’t have any tools at the time to process it.” For years he did “normal Father’s Day stuff,” hanging out with his three kids, but described “a sort of empty feeling around the kids who were not there.”

Thomas*, whose abortion experience was 15 years ago, said “There was always something missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I was stuffing it so far down I didn’t even know.” Thomas shared attending Mass with his family “definitely affected me” when the priest would “ask all the fathers to stand up and people would clap.” He said his parents didn’t know, “so I held it in – hearing all the negative voices and thoughts in my head – I’m horrible, I should be a father.

This is the first Father’s Day for Mike* since the abortion. “To be honest, I’m afraid for next Sunday,” he said. “I’m going to think about it no matter what. I hope I don’t wake up crying.” He shared that he had been excited about the baby. They were making plans, buying baby clothes, Christmas books, and looking at getting a house. Their baby was 18 weeks along when “she changed her mind. She’d been showing, then the next time I saw her, nothing… It’s really hard,” Mike said. “Even though I’m pro-choice, I was surprised I felt so much. I thought since I was okay with abortion I wouldn’t be affected, but it just destroyed me.”

Keith’s* abortion experience was over 40 years ago when he and his then girlfriend were young college students. He said he “didn’t give Father’s Day much thought. Probably stuffing it” for decades. “It was my secret.” Later after he got married and started a family, Father’s Day had “some darkness, but a lot of light” because of celebrating with his children.

“I remember the first year when Father’s day came around just a few weeks after the abortion,” Cole* said, “My main thought was What kind of father am I? I failed to protect my first child. It really dragged me down to a pretty dark place in my mind. Later Father’s Days I mainly just tried not to think about it. Now that I’m trying to work through it,” he continued, “maybe this Father’s Day won’t be as bad.”

Facing Father’s Day After Abortion

Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, a licensed mental health therapist and social worker, said “Releasing emotions in a healthy way can bring a measure of peace and allow men who have experienced abortion loss to participate in the rest of Father’s Day, especially if they have living children.” Rowe suggested, as she did for women on Mother’s Day, that men “take the first hour of the day to themselves to experience the grief, so they can enter into the joy of the moment.” 

Mayo said after healing from father wounds and the abortions, “Father’s Day was a great day, but there’s always a part of it where I’m by myself and think about the children who aren’t with me. I’ll go to a park, hang out on the creek bank, even just run to the store – and have a silent moment to reflect.

Mike said he would be spending the day with his eight year old son. “My plan is just to let him lead and to keep very, very busy. That will give me a distraction.” After hearing Rowe’s advice and Mayo’s habit, Mike said, “That makes sense. I’ll do that – an hour to myself to reflect before I spend the day with my son.”

Keith also plans to spend some time on Father’s Day “dedicated to thinking about” his daughter. “I might write something – maybe a story or a song, or give myself a physical challenge.”

Thomas shared that for the first time he’s “actually looking forward to Father’s Day.” He described a 15-year struggle with “alcohol and drug abuse, acting out, poor decisions, and destruction” after encouraging his then girlfriend to have an abortion in their early 20s. He said, “getting help with the alcohol was the start of healing.” As his healing process went deeper he realized “the root for me was the abortion.” Going through Support After Abortion’s healing program Keys to Hope and Healing “helped me to process the sad thoughts, regret, sorrow, and shame I used to feel.” He said this year is different. “My last drink was Father’s Day two years ago.” He will spend this Father’s Day with his dad “celebrating the healing and reflecting on all the positive growth of the last two years.”

Tips for Men Navigating Father’s Day After Abortion Loss

The men shared that they know the emotions will come on Father’s Day. “Having a healthy way to deal with that is the only option we have,” Mayo said. “Find somewhere that makes sense to you to just be still and consciously acknowledge the child(ren) you’ve lost, or do something – take a walk by yourself, write a song on the guitar, whatever is meaningful for you and brings you some modicum of peace.

Some of the tips the men offered include:

  • What you feel is valid no matter what anyone else says; the pain is real. 
  • Express your grief. Confide in someone.
  • Seek help. It’s not easy carrying that burden by yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid of the pain because it’ll lead you to joy and freedom.
  • Don’t isolate from people. Go out. Try to be around people.
  • Talk to your child – share your regrets and sorrows.  
  • Don’t give up hope, the healing process takes time. Stick to it. It gets better.  

“It’s such a cliche and stupid phrase, but know that you’re not alone,” Mike said, “this has happened to millions of people. That doesn’t take away how impactful it is for you. Father’s Day will be different for each man. It could be a day of reflection or a day that feels catastrophic. It’s going to be hard for most. But you’re truly not alone.”

Suggestions for Family & Friends to Support Men on Father’s Day After Abortion

Mayo urges families, friends, church leaders, and communities to “be conscious that by age 45, one in five men will experience abortion¹; you may know a man who has an abortion loss – whether you are aware of it or not.” 

Mayo continued, “Here’s the thing, men are left out of the abortion conversation on all ends – so on Father’s Day, being given the space to grieve and someone to listen may be all that guy needs to make the day a little bit better.” The men echoed this advice, emphasizing the need to discern his wishes. 

Cole cautioned family members or others who were involved in the abortion discussion or decision to recognize the man may feel “quite a lot of resentment” and urged people to be “patient, understanding, and careful with your tone of voice.” 

Keith urged others to “be present, slow to speak, and quick to listen.” He advised, “Don’t get into the whys when he tells his story, just be a willing listener, a safe space, so he can speak freely and know he won’t be judged.

“It’s Father’s Day. It’s everywhere,” Cole said, “Everyone’s talking about it. Be sensitive that it’s a tough one for men [with abortion loss].”

Next Steps for Men Grieving Abortion Loss

Grief is a common and natural response to loss that varies for everyone, and grief after abortion is no different. Mike said he would want people to know that “it really does impact men much more than people think.”

Men and women who are struggling after abortion may contact the Support After Abortion team for confidential, anonymous support here

Men are invited to Base Camp, an open-forum, virtual weekly discussion group for men who have been impacted by abortion led by Mayo. No registering. No pressure. No commitment. Base Camp meets weekly on Tuesdays at 7p EST, just click here to join us on Zoom! 

* Names have been changed to protect the men’s privacy.

¹ National Survey of Family Growth, Feb 2022, 


About Support After Abortion

Support After Abortion is a nonprofit dedicated to helping men and women impacted after abortion by (1) connecting them with healing options they prefer, and (2) equipping providers with curriculum, resources, and trainings. Support After Abortion’s free resources include an After Abortion Help Line, a national therapist and counseling directory, and an introductory abortion healing program.


About the Author

Michele serves as Communications Manager for Support After Abortion. She and her husband have experienced reproductive loss through three miscarriages and stillborn twins. They live in Greenville, SC with their three daughters.


I’m a man. I miss the children I lost to abortion.

I’m a man. I miss the children I lost to abortion.

In the 1980s, men held up to 95% of federal judicial positions across America and more than 90% of congressional seats. Every U.S. president to that point — and since — has been male, and so have most religious leaders.

None of that male power made any difference to me in 1988, when, as a senior in high school, I found out that my girlfriend was pregnant. I wasn’t sure what to do, but her mother was — and so I lost my first child to abortion. Four years later, I lost my second, this time after begging my ex-girlfriend to keep the baby so I could raise him or her. She told me it wasn’t a baby, said it wasn’t my choice and got the abortion.

It’s common to say that men shouldn’t have a say in abortion because it is a woman who carries the child. The effects on her body are tremendous, as are the responsibilities, especially when her partner threatens to end a relationship or is already gone. And many men agree with the “not your body, not your choice” position — more than 60% of Americans have internalized the idea that women hold ultimate power over their unborn children, up to and including the ability to end their lives at will.

Meanwhile, little thought is given to fathers, except when holding deadbeat dads accountable for child support and weekend visits. But not every man who loses a child to abortion is suffering the consequences of an irresponsible hookup. Many are in serious relationships, as I was. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a prominent research organization which favors legal abortion, fully 45% of women who experience abortion are either married or cohabiting. And many women and men who call Support After Abortion’s Help Line experienced abortion despite being in stable relationships and having born children they love.

The fact is that many men not only feel responsible for their unborn children but suffer if their partners get an abortion. This is true even if they generally favor legalized abortion or profess a belief that the decision should be entirely up to women. I lead a men’s task force for Support After Abortion, a research and education group that conducted a national survey and found that more than 70% of men experience adverse impacts after their abortion losses. Seventy-eight percent of pro-choice men sought help or said they could have used someone to talk to.

Since starting my healing journey 14 years ago, with professional therapy, the support of my wife and living children, and my pastor, I’ve shared my story to help men feel that they can share their grief and pain. Often, the responses to my work have been amazing. But just as often, I’ve been told my feelings don’t matter, that men who struggle after abortion are “losers,” and that my family and I should “f—ing die.”

We would never say such things to someone struggling with other traumas. We console people whose loved ones have died, mourn with parents who have lost children and offer compassion to adults dealing with the abuse they experienced in childhood. Only when it comes to abortion does society say that men and women shouldn’t acknowledge their pain.

I’m now 53, married, with four children and three grandchildren. I miss my three deceased children, two lost to abortion and one to miscarriage, every day — and I will always express solidarity with other men who have endured similar tragedies. The fact that a small percentage of men hold positions of power means nothing to the everyday man who finds himself powerless during an abortion and suffering in isolation afterwards.

Regardless of our views on abortion, or of who has more legal or political power at any one time, we’re all individual human beings trying to find peace as best we can. Remembering that is how to help relieve a great deal of suffering –– even the suffering our society would rather sweep under the rug.

Greg Mayo is national men’s task force chair for Support After Abortion.

This piece was originally published by The Indianapolis Star.