Study: Men Should Be Included In Unplanned Pregnancy Prevention

Men should be included in strategizing ways to prevent unplanned pregnancies, according to a new study by the Guttmacher Institute. Researchers looked at data from the 2006 to 2010 National Survey of Family Growth reported by men about unplanned births. Through analyzing the rate of happiness that each father felt when his child was born, they found that fathers that planned the birth of their child were more likely to be happy about their bundle of joy coming into the world. Married men specifically were very happy about having a child in this manner.

The study, titled, “Exploring U.S. Men’s Birth Intentions,” by Laura Lindberg and Kathryn Kost, looked at a whole bunch of facts about unplanned pregnancy and found the rate of unintended births vary between a man’s union status, age, education level, race and ethnicity. However, quite a few unplanned pregnancies are unwanted by men.

Here’s what they found:

  • around two-thirds of unintended births are mistimed
  • about one-third of births are unwanted
  • over one in 10 single fathers had no idea about the pregnancies until after the kid was born
  • non-marital childbearing was more prevalent in Hispanics and black fathers than in white fathers
  • planned births were more prevalent in cohabiting Hispanic fathers than by white or black
  • intended births were more prevalent in single black fathers than in single white fathers

Based on evidence suggested by the study, Lindberg said:

“We need to include in our discussion about unintended pregnancy and foster strateges to help men work as individuals and with their partners to control when or if they have children.  Regardless of a man’s marital status or race, his community and health care providers should recognize his fertility desires and empower him to plan his family.”

Some of these ideas were echoed by our columnist Dan Soloman in his recent piece “The Soapbox: Why Men Need Abortion As Much As Women Do.” In his essay, Soloman noted the lack of men present when he spoke on the floor of the Texas Senate about a state Senate bill that would greatly restrict abortion throughout the state. Why, he wondered, were so few men involved?  He wrote:

“For every unmarried woman who testified about the pregnancy she was not in a poisiton to see through, there was also a single man who was not ready to become a father. For every married owman who spoke about the life-threatening cirumstnaces of a much-wanted pregnancy that she had to terminate, there was a man who was witin a few hastily-written laws of losing his wife.”

Discussions about unplanned pregnancy so often focus only on women, specifically on shaming women for “not being careful enough.” We only seem to discuss men when we’re having high-octane debates about whether men have a “right” to force a woman to go through with an unwanted pregnancy.  What will the world look like when men are move involved, from start to finish, in planning their reproductive decisions?

[Guttmacher Institute]
[Think Progress]

[Photo of Pregnant Woman and Man via Shutterstock]