Jude Collins

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Can a father-to-be have suicidal thoughts?

When my wife was pregnant with each of our four children, I never once thought of saying to friends or anyone else “We are going to have a baby”. Things have changed since then: in recent years the male habitually  says “We are going to have a baby” when his wife/partner is pregnant. In my unreconstructed mind this at first seemed daft. Men can’t have babies so why claim to be going to have one? Gradually light seeped into the dark corners of my skull and I realised that “having a baby” wasn’t just a biological event, it involved a lifetime of concern and care for the soon-to-arrive, and in this respect the man was equally responsible for the child.

So with the south on the brink of introducing its new abortion law, the thought struck me: where do the father-to-be’s concerns enter the equation? You might well respond “Hardly at all”, in that there are men who see their part in the whole affair as ending shortly after impregnation. But there are men who do care about their children, including the soon-to-be-born ones, and yet I don’t think I’ve come across any articles referring to the father’s role or rights. 

Take the suicide thing, which is the part of the south’s abortion law that’s creating the biggest furore. Under the new law, if three medics - an obstetrician and two psychiatrists -  rule that the pregnant woman is in danger of taking her own life, then an abortion can be legally performed. 

Now leave aside for the moment (yes, yes, I know it’s an effort) the accuracy of psychiatric prediction of suicide. The thing is, what would happen if the unborn child’s father was a suicide risk?  If the mother of the unborn child can have suicidal thoughts, isn’t it possible the father of the unborn child could equally have thoughts of suicide?  With the only way of resolving these thoughts being the abortion of the foetus? Or can a man only think in positive terms of his unborn child, so there’s no need to make provision for any male who might have suicidal thoughts at the prospect of becoming a father?

When you think about it, one of the more positive changes in family life in recent decades is the role of the father. He’s more involved with his children from the earliest years than ever before, and that’s seen universally as a good thing. So if a woman satisfies three medics that she’s contemplating suicide and the solution is the abortion of the unborn child, why is it not seen as being any of the man’s business? Because if the child gets lucky enough to be born, it’ll certainly be his business then. 


  1. Had those thoughts afew times Jude, If a father wants an abortion and the mother doesn't the child is born and the father pays for the next 18yrs, if the mother wants an abortion and the father doesn't the abortion happens an the father has to live with it for the rest of his life. The father has absolutely no input into the future or otherwise of his own child in this matter. PS having suicidal thoughts about my lack of money can I see two psychiatrists and a banker?

    1. Very sad commentary. If mother wants chicken and father wants beef, are the kids eating chicken or beef?

      It's called communicating and coming to a decision. Of course when there is two viewpoints there will be conflict and one will ultimately be unhappy.

  2. I think in any situation where the future of the feotus ( or unborn child if you prefer) is being considered, the views of the prospective father should be considered. Not by law makers or psychiatrists,but by the prospective mother. Ideally a couple should discuss and reach an agreement. But the man's view has to be secondary to the womans. The woman is doing the heavy lifting (and pushing) here. It is her body where the foetus develops and from where it will eventually emerge. Ultimately the decision must be hers.
    Those who are against all abortion must somehow address the question of how to compel women to carry for 9 months, and give birth to, a child they do not want.
    How will that be done, Jude?
    'Mad' women used to be cured by lobotomy or electroshock therapy.
    Maybe that is the answer.