A Tale of Two Fathers

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

tim and caitlincaitlin and tim at beach

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times for two men. The first I never met, the second I know well. As we draw close to celebrating Father’s Day, their juxtaposed journeys deserve our attention.

Christopher Keelty is a writer who recently shouted his girlfriend’s abortion. His June 6 article entitled What My Partner’s Abortion Taught Me: Men Benefit From Choice, Too” ironically appeared on the website Fatherly and is riddled with misinformation about abortion laws and statistics. But far more disturbing is the casual, unapologetic tone he assumes in telling of an unplanned pregnancy.

No doubt Christopher was quite relieved by his girlfriend’s abortion.  “While the decision was entirely hers, Liz’s choice to terminate benefitted me. It meant I could continue pursuing the personal and professional life I wanted.”  Addressing his male readership, he reminds them that abortion is good for them too, allowing men to escape the hassle of parenthood. Grateful that he and Liz aren’t “overhauling our lives to accommodate the child we never wanted”, he celebrates abortion as a great guarantor of freedom.

Yet there is a hint of uncertainty. Liz asks if getting an abortion is OK. If she believes “the decision was entirely hers”, why bother to ask him? Christopher responds that a baby was the last thing he was ready for.

Was that the answer she was hoping to hear?  Is it possible she asked because she wanted this man to protect and provide for both her and their child, rather than choosing the self-indulgent lifestyle he desperately clung to instead?

While he portrays himself as so very pro-woman, isn’t he really just pro-Christopher?

And then there’s Tim, a 19 year-old accounting major who learns about his girlfriend’s pregnancy while scrubbing pots in the hospital kitchen where he worked. The word abortion never crossed his lips.  Instead, he got a second job and then a third.

Tim married that girl. Financing his own education, he took 19 credits a semester and graduated early, all while changing diapers and being schooled in infant insomnia.

When he graduated, Tim moved his family out of his in-laws’ house into a modest apartment. Money was so tight that there was often not much more than a few items in the fridge at any one time.  Life was a continuous struggle in many ways.

But he didn’t dwell on what was lacking or a lifestyle he was missing. He saw what he did have. A family. A beautiful little girl whose wild blond curls and striking brown eyes melted his heart when he returned from class or one of his jobs. She was both his inspiration for working hard and his great reward.

You may have guessed that Tim is my husband of 32 years, the father of our five children, pappy to three grandchildren, a well-respected tax attorney and CPA. And he couldn’t be more different than Christopher Keelty.

For every reader who falls under Keelty’s spell of selfishness and believes abortion is the answer, I want to offer the story of another man, one who wasn’t driven by self-interest but by self-sacrifice.

My humble husband would never write an article about his story. But I share it because there are many other men out there just like him and they all warrant recognition and respect. Men who step up.  Men who put themselves last.  Men who pledge to protect and provide for their family, even when it is untimely or inconvenient. Real men. Would Liz have liked for Christopher to be that kind of man?

The reality is that 64% of post-abortive women say they felt coerced into getting an abortion. Sometimes the coercion is as subtle as the father saying a baby is the last thing he was ready for.

Like women, men too can be led to believe that an unplanned pregnancy offers no future and will lead to the worst of times.  But that is a lie. Embracing fatherhood may not lead to an easy, comfortable life, but the love between a father and child leads to the very best of times.

Tragically, that is a tale that Christopher Keelty, and too many other men, will not be able to tell.