Volume 50, Issue 2
Pages 75 - 83

Supporting Women at the Time of Abortion: A Mixed‐Methods Study of Male Partner Experiences and Perspectives


Although men are commonly viewed as unaware, uninvolved and even obstructive regarding their partner's abortion access, those who accompany women to an abortion appointment may be more supportive. A better understanding of men's motivations could inform clinic policies regarding their involvement.


In 2015–2016, data were collected from male partners of women seeking an abortion at two clinics in a large Midwestern city. Twenty‐nine interviews were conducted to explore how men wanted to be involved in the abortion and why they accompanied their partners. Thematic content analysis was used to examine these data, and emergent themes informed a survey, completed by 210 men, that focused on perceptions about and reasons for accompaniment. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the survey data.


Four in 10 interviewees were aged 25–34, as were half of survey respondents. Overall, most had at least some college education and were in long‐term or committed relationships. Interviewees described providing primarily instrumental (e.g., transportation and financial) and emotional (e.g., companionship and reassurance) support during the abortion process. While 57% of survey respondents would not have chosen to terminate the pregnancy if the decision had been their own, all wanted to support their partners. Notably, 70% viewed the appointment as an opportunity to receive contraceptive counseling.


Positive narratives regarding men's support for the abortion decisions of their partners provide a counterpoint to commonly held negative narratives. Future research should explore how supportive men who accompany partners at the time of an abortion may improve women's abortion experiences.

Authors' Affiliations

Brian T. Nguyen is assistant professor, Section of Family Planning, Department of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Luciana E. Hebert is research specialist 3, and Sara L. Newton is research specialist 2, both in the Section on Family Planning and Contraceptive Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago. Melissa L. Gilliam is Ellen H. Block professor and vice provost of Academic Leadership, Advancement and Diversity, University of Chicago.

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Guttmacher Institute.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health