"Um… I'm pregnant." Young men's attitudes towards their role in abortion decision-making



Publication Details

Sharp, E., Richters, J. & Rutherford, A. (2015). "Um… I'm pregnant." Young men's attitudes towards their role in abortion decision-making. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 12 (2), 155-162.


Estimates of abortion rates in Australia suggest that substantial numbers of men are party to an unplanned pregnancy. Although men have no formal legal rights in the decision to terminate a pregnancy, they may be liable to pay child support. The purpose of this 2011 study was to glean young men's perspectives on their role in unplanned pregnancy. In semi-structured in-depth interviews, ten male university students aged 20-23 gave their views on their role in imaginary scenarios and real-life unplanned pregnancy situations ranging from a one-night stand to a two-year relationship. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed. Young men generally expected a higher level of involvement in decision making in longer relationships than in brief liaisons. Those with real-life experiences of abortion tended to think that men should have a greater role in decision-making. Young men felt that it was the woman's right to make the decision on pregnancy outcome, but they still wanted some say if they were financially implicated. Nevertheless, men usually assumed that women were equally motivated to avoid pregnancy and left responsibility for contraception to the woman. Young men were centrally concerned with maintaining face-not being seen as 'deadbeat dads', abandoning mother and child. None expressed religious or moral concerns about abortion. Few men mentioned risk of sexually transmissible infections. Further research should explore the discrepancy between young men's desire to be more involved in the abortion decision-making process and their ambivalence towards contraception responsibility. Sex education should attempt to make the risk of unintended fatherhood more real to male adolescents. Sex education should incorporate discussion of different relationship dilemmas to encourage greater ownership over sexual and reproductive health.

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