S.F. conference explores impact of abortion on men

Experts and therapists attending a conference in The City this week, co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, say men who have been traumatized by abortion have few places to turn to be healed.

Titled “Reclaiming Fatherhood,” the two-day event has been touted by organizers as the first of its kind in the country.

Little research has been conducted exploring the effect of abortions on men, conference organizers say.

“We have been concerned with many aspects of the abortion issue,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s association that co-sponsored the conference. “Men have been overlooked for a very long time.”

Anderson said he hopes the conference will help men who have been hurt by abortion, and that it will give people “a greater insight into the reality of abortion.”

Vicki Thorn said she has counseled women traumatized by abortion since the 1980s, when she founded the Milwaukee-based Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation, a Christian group that helped organize the event.

Men can be traumatized, sometimes years later, if they pressure a woman to have an abortion, according to Thorn, or if they discover or suspect that their partner had an abortion.

“They can be angry; they can be mad; they can have a sense of male impotence,” Thorn said.

Family psychologist Dr. Vincent Rue, who serves as an expert witness and consultant in legal cases that involve abortion, will speak during the conference.

Rue said he has treated men who suffered “debilitating” grief, avoidance, denial and hyperarousal because of abortions.

A Planned Parenthood Golden Gate spokeswoman said abortion alone doesn’t cause long-term grief. “If there is any long-term emotional impact, then there are other emotional issues at play,” Amy Moy said.

Conference organizers say they want to keep the event apolitical. “If there’s pain out there, there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be discussed,” Knights of Columbus spokesman Andrew Walther said. “There’s no reason that it shouldn’t be healed.”

The two-day conference starts this morning at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. Around 120 people from 26 states and a handful of countries have registered to attend the conference, according to Walther.

Around 1.3 million American women had an abortion in 2003, according to data compiled last year by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit sexual health group.

jupton@examiner.com

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