In an abortion debate that is wrongly considered just a “women’s issue,” the pain that men feel about a past abortion is often lost in the shuffle. But millions of men who may have prompted or agreed with their partner’s decision to have an abortion often face regret years later. And often times the baby is killed in an abortion that the father never wanted or supported.
Longtime country music singer Kenny Rogers, who passed away today, was known for his romantic touch and everyman approach. But a lesser-known song he sang later in his career highlighted a father’s abortion pain — the title track from one of his later albums, Water and Bridges.
The album had an older Rogers, whose hits spanned several decades, looking back on life.
Though the tune isn’t about him, Rogers told CNN at the time it came out that “Water and Bridges” was “really about choices you make when you’re young that you pay for when you’re old.”
“It’s an interesting — it starts off with a young couple who have an abortion,” Rogers explained. “And the guy says, ‘If a father could hold his son, I could undo what’s been done, but I guess everyone is living with water and bridges.’”
Dr. Wayne Brauning, the founder of Men’s Abortion ReCovery, knows many men who feel the pain of an abortion that occurred during their relationship with a woman.
“Men have told me that they knew they were guilty of getting the woman pregnant, of pressuring her to get an abortion, or of not coming to the rescue of the child,” Brauning writes.
“Participating in an abortion always produces real guilt before God in the person who is responsible for the decision to take the life of the child,” he explains.
In the Rogers song, the father relates a common story for many men involved in an abortion decision: “I was young, so was she. Life didn’t stay a mystery for very long. We could do no wrong.”
“Then she called, said she was late, So we took a little drive upstate an’ took care of that. Yeah, just took care of that,” the father says.
Expressing his regret, the father explains, “But now I’m longin’ back at some of my decisions … it’s much too late to change.”
Rogers didn’t write the song — it was penned by country music songwriter Craig Wiseman who found his music talent arranging and transposing songs at church camp so everyone could sing along.
”I’m not a songwriter. I’m just a writer,” Wiseman said once. “You observe the stuff everybody observes — what makes people point at the radio and go, ‘Exactly!’ ‘Man, that’s just how it was.”’
Rogers likes “Water and Bridges” because it fits in with his venerable look back on life.
Explaining to CNN about the song and why he liked it, he said, “Music should do one of three things: it should make you laugh, make you cry, or make you think.”
Dr. Brauning tells men who have been a party to an abortion to actively grieve and express the pain and emotional trauma related to it
“Don’t hold back. The reason for this sorrow is genuine and profound,” he said.