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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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Mens rights on abortion

I am currently completing my Child and Youth Care degree and one of my assignments is taking part in a debate about an ethical decision. My debate is on whether men should have the right to have a say on abortion. Should they be a part of the decision making process? If they want the woman to not have an abortion should they be able to have a say or vice versa? I have been doing research on what Canada’s laws are on abortion and where most people stand on the men’s rights. It made me curious to hear what others in the Child and Youth Care field think about this topic. I am interested in hearing thoughts about both sides (pros and negatives). Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Callie Zerr

I feel that the man should have a say so in whether the female should get abortion or not because it took the female and male to make the baby so the man should have the right to agree or disagree with the decision.

Angie Kyser

I would say yes they do have a say. But do they also have a say if they want an abortion and don't want to be a father? If they don't want to have a child isn't it much easier for men to walk away from the responsibility than women? In this context isn't the question about continuing or terminating a pregnancy as a expression of self determination? Do both parties give up their independent right to self-determination at the moment of conception? Perhaps it is about personal, filial and social responsibility.

Good question. If a man says he doesn't want his baby-momma to have an abortion than he is saying he is going to be responsible for that child for the rest of that child's life. What if the mom doesn't want or is not in a position to be a mom and bear a child? What if she is in an abusive relationship with a man? What if she doesn't want to be in a relationship with this person?

I would say the man has a say but the woman's say is and should be weighted heavier since it is her body and not his. If he wants a baby so badly he should find a woman who can commit to him and a life raising a child with him or who is willing to give up her child to him. I worry that father-rights too often are fickle responses based on a man's rights and immature adolescent appearances of patriarchal privilege and tend to reinforce socially constructed devaluation of women's self determination based on some specific religious worldview. I would totally align with the woman's right over the man's because bearing a child is a big deal and as a father it is nothing I would wish on anyone who is not rejoicing in the awesomeness of it. As a man I wouldn't be trying to get a woman pregnant who was not committed to me and to raising our child. This is what birth control and all the other forms of sexuality (that don't involve a risk for procreation) are for.

In all relationships both parties have a say. But each position is not weighted equally. That is life.

Peter DeLong

Men have no rights when it comes to abortion or to access to their children unless they go court.
My son's mother had two abortions behind my back and we conceived a child she did not bother telling me about until he was 7 months old ... we broke up shortly after conception. In Canada men are basically non-entities when it comes to children except for the matter of child support if the woman chooses to not involve herself with the father in the decision making process ...
See also:

This is also another reason we have so many problems with our clients.

Ziggy Stardust

Hi Callie,

My belief is that men can be involved in the decision making, yet in the end it is the women's choice. It may be beneficial to have the men weigh the pros and cons with the mother, but it is the mother's body, and it should be up to her. I recall hearing a story from my parents that my dad had to sign a permission form for my mother to get a C-section. I am pleased to see that rule has changed. Everybody has the right to what happens to their own bodies, and in the end it is their choice. I'm looking forward to hearing this interesting debate :)

Carrie McDermott

Hi Callie,

What an interesting topic. I had to stop and think for a while about what I really did think about this. After careful consideration, personally, I do not believe that men should have a right in the decision process. I believe that their opinion should be heard and considered; but ultimately it is the woman's choice. For issues surrounding abortion, within the first four months, a woman should have the ultimate decision regarding her body. I would never support a law that forced a woman to have a baby, or an abortion, because the father wanted it. Child rearing is still predominantly a woman's job. When men are willing to step up to the plate and do their part in the total picture, then I would advocate a voice in pregnancy issues. Child poverty is an issue that is getting worse, not better.

Situations are never cut and dry and there will always be exceptions and unconsidered stories. Would love to hear the debate!

Good luck,

My unequivocal view is that the final decision about having an abortion rests with the person who is pregnant and that right needs to be respected. The woman should not be made to feel guilt, castigated, ostracised or somehow punished. Certainly, I think the potential father has a right to have input into that decision but it is not, his decision. An important issue relates to ensuring the pregnant woman receives informed, unbiased advice in relation to the repercussions of the decision to either keep or abort. A young girl for example should be aware of the supports available if she decides to keep the baby but, equally, she should know the process involved if she decides to abort including any health risks.

My understanding is that most women do not make such a decision lightly. I believe that until a man can become pregnant, carry a baby full term, experience up to 28 hours of labour (and sometimes even longer)can have their life put at risk by being pregnant or have an embryo as a result of a violent rape and other matters he can only, at best, offer support, an opinion and his understanding.

There is the issue of the right of the unborn foetus and of course the issue of when does life as such begin. This is a hotly debated and contested area. Certainly there is a point in the pregnancy when termination is not an option except under extreme circumstances (such as, the choice is literally the mother or the infant, what is the right decision if a mother during the birth has her life on the line and a choice has to be made?. E.g. If the baby lives at the expense of the mother's life leaving a family of say, five kids and a father without a mother) It is a difficult issue but as I said in the beginning, ultimately, it should be the right of the mother to choose the decision.

In terms of youth work, it is my view that the role of the youth worker is to support the client and not try to sway the client as a result of their own moral or religious position. The youth worker is there to support the young person and that includes accessing professional information and support, making sure the person has as much information as possible to make an informed decision. A pregnant teenager who is worried about housing, income support, homemaker skills etc may be inclined to abort the baby simply out of fear whereas with the right support and information, she may really want to keep the baby. How tragic if she really wants to keep the baby but because of lack of support, fear and lack of information, she decides not to have the baby. On the other hand, a teenage girl who is pregnant may still decide to abort because she feels too young, immature, not ready to be a mother, or for a host of other reasons, but at least if she is informed, she is not making a choice out of ignorance.

Unless the pregnant person holds religious convictions that play a part in her decision making, I do not believe it is the role of the youth worker to impose their religious or moral view onto the client. For some women, religion is a major consideration, but for others, it is not and therefore, the response should respect and reflect those positions.

Respecting the rights of the client and being on hand to support them does not entail imposition of the youth worker's moral or religious views but rather, should reflect a code of conduct and a professional regard for the 'best interest' of the client.

John Amadio
Australia (SA)

I believe a man shouldn't have a legal say in the manner, like he doesn't have to sign a piece of paper allowing the woman to have an abortion, but he should be able to have a say in the matter. If the woman tells him she's pregnant and is considering an abortion, he should give her his opinions on it. The child would also be his and the woman wouldn't have been pregnant in the first place without him so if he cares about the situation he should have a say. I think men in general can have an opinion on abortion. It's not just a woman's issue because the child would have a future father and many people see abortion as killing a living person so from a point of view of abortion killing another fellow person, a person has a right to discuss how he/she feels about this child possibly being terminated. The right to choose is ultimately up to the woman and the men shouldn't have a legal say (since some men are controlling or unfit fathers or the woman may fear abuse from the man if she's pregnant or if she wants an abortion), but men can still have a voice on the matter.

I don't understand how the question relates to Child and Youth Care work. Men have a say whether or not to participate in unprotected sex. That is pretty clear. If a man doesn't want to participate or contribute to an abortion, they can choose not to have unprotected sex with women.

Alfonso Ramirez, Jr.

Interesting topic!

This shows how diverse the human mind actually is. Once upon a time we were fighting for a woman's voice to be heard, validated and recognized within society's norms. Once upon a time in the world's tribal cultures women were worshiped as they were, and continue to be the givers of "life".

I've noticed one common human trait throughout my life, which is: satisfaction within a human being only lasts a small amount of time. Once we get what we've been fighting for, the reason is diminished and we must find another fight, even if we've fought it in the past.

We have fought for equal rights in the past and we continue to fight for equal rights, whether it's for men, women, youth, people of colour, people with special needs, sexual orientation, etc. I think we need to focus on respecting each other, and recognizing each other.

When somebody communicates with me they are sharing with me a part of them regardless of if I agree with what they are saying or even if I don't like what they are saying. They are giving me something from them, now it's up to me to learn from it or disregard it. If I disregard it, the speaker doesn't lose, however the listener loses greatly! Therefore I believe it's in everybody's interest to acknowledge, validate, listen, and hear what men are saying, women are saying and our children are saying! I hope my message was conveyed successfully.

Manjit Virk

Hi Callie,

I hope you are wearing protective gear for THIS debate... I think that in general, men and women should work very very very hard at finding a way to serve everyone's best interest. I think the decision to have an abortion is often made too hastily. In the end, very few people who are in loving stable relationships have abortions – because why would they? So should men have a say? Why not? I think the problem here is with how practical that would be. It would mean a man would be able to say "no" when a woman wants an abortion, or be able to say "yes" when she doesn't want one. There is just no way I see this happening, so the debate is for me almost pointless at this stage. Should they have a say? I think they should have SOME say, but probably not the final say...

Good luck.

Werner vd Westhuizen

Hi Callie,

In a world where most women are socialised into inferior roles, routinely subjugated, oppressed and degraded with often little informed choice in becoming pregnant it is my view that one domain over which they can and should have complete control is their body. This does not mean that consideration of the male view should be discounted but ultimately the decision lies with the woman.

Final thought: it is relative affluence and not religious or moral standpoints that have the biggest influence on the birth-rate and choice.

Jeremy Millar

Always a "juicy" topic and one for which there is no "answer". I hope that your assignment will be centered around the many dilemmas presented by the complexity of needing two people to make a baby, but only one to carry them.

The other huge dilemma comes after birth, when it takes one, two, or none of the people involved in "making" the baby to care for them as a born child.

The discussion should be enough for a great paper.

Lorraine Fox

I am curious as to how this relates to Youth Care but in any event yes I feel men should have a say why shouldn't they? It is their child as well.. I tend to agree with the comment the gentlemen said about practising safe sex if you don't want to be put in the position then just don't engage in unprotected sex!

I am still trying to wrap my head around this topic... and figure out how exactly I feel about it.

However I wanted to respond to Alfonso who stated " I don't understand how the question relates to Child and Youth Care work". Child and Youth Care is an amazing field in that we never know what sort of issues and topics we'll have to face day to day. And because of this it is important for us to know where we stand on a myriad of different topics. If you're working in a high school, maybe a young girl will come to you when she discovers she's pregnant... you then need to consider all of the various issues this girl will now face. You may also need to consider whether or not the father should be informed. You need to decide if you think this is your place or not. Maybe if you're working with families in crisis and there are issues surrounding the mother not telling the father about abortions... or the mother being pregnant and wanting an abortion but the father disagrees.... My point is we NEVER know what sort of issues will arise in our work, and so it is important for us to understand both sides of an issue, and figure out for ourselves which side we favor, so that it won't necessarily cloud our judgment if it comes up with clients.

What better way to get all aspects of an issue than with a world of Child and Youth Care workers...

Katie Kump
British Columbia

Hi Callie

(Glad I signed up for "should elementary children receive homework" – feel free to post on this issue if anyone has some strong feelings).

This is definitely a question that makes one think. There are so many factors to be considered, such as the relationship between the man and woman, if they have been together for a long time, or simply known each other for weeks? It happens. Some people have raised the point of what if the man was abusive, would you want to have him raise your child. Although part of me strongly believes that men sometimes do not have a enough say in the lives of their children. I think if I am completely honest with myself I do not think a man should ultimately be able to decide if a woman can or cannot have an abortion.

Look forward to the debate


This is an issue that can raise many questions for all of those involved. There is no black and white answer. If a woman has been raped, does he have the right? If conception occurred from a one night stand, who's choice is it? If they have been together for years, have a child already, but live in poverty with no support to help raise another child, what now? How old are they? Does culture play a role, should it? Hmmmmmmm.......

Gillian Thibedeau

A lot of men in our society don't do a good job of caring for children after they're born. I don't think that we should have much say on whether or not a woman should have an abortion until that improves.

Clayton Ellis


I would like to hear other points of view from individuals that are PRO LIFE... I agree it doesn't really relate to Child and Youth Care work, but it is a topic for a group debate assignment in one of our University courses. I know there are many individuals across Canada who have a Pro Life view – don't be afraid to voice your personal opinion or beliefs, whether it be spiritually based or logical. I AM PRO LIFE, abortion is killing a human life and men should do everything they can to encourage the woman NOT to abort, but look at ALL the options available to them – #1 Adoption, there are so many couples out there that are not able to conceive and would be blessed to raise the "beautiful" child ...

Leah Connell

Years ago, as a CYC, I worked with a fourteen-year-old boy in a residential program, who had gotten his fourteen-year-old girlfriend pregnant. The long and short of this was that the girl decided to have an abortion. This 14-year-old boy thought he would be responsible in supporting her decision by attending the abortion clinic with her. On the day that they went, there were protesters marching about outside the clinic. Nothing much was said to them as they went in, however, as this young couple came out, the protesters yelled several slogans at them, including "baby-killer". (As an aside, I am not taking any position on the protesters views on abortion. However, no young person should ever have to endure what these two children endured.) The boy was quite traumatized by this. You see, he never wanted his girlfriend to have the abortion; though unprepared, he wanted to keep the baby, but believed that he had no rights in the matter because he didn't have to carry the baby for nine months.

This issue can have significant relevance to the field of Child and Youth work.

Clarence Vanderlaan

Hi Callie,

It takes a man and a woman to create a baby, however after this process has occurred I feel it is solely in the women’s hands to decide whether or not she is going to keep her child.

Various factors may weigh into her decision of whether or not she wants to carry a baby for nine months and raise a child thereafter, including how and if the father figure has chosen to have a hand in raising his child. The man therefore has a say in whether or not he is going to participate in raising his child if the women decides she wants to keep her child. He only has the right to share his opinion in the case that the woman is contemplating an abortion, but ultimately the end decision belongs to the woman.

I look forward to hearing your group’s debate in class!

Lindsey Byrnes


If you are promoting a pro life agenda then there really is no need for the question about men's right to have a say. They wouldn't have one, either. The government would just require the woman to have the baby, sometimes against her will, or go to jail.

I'm not trying to be facetious but science has come a long way, growing ears and eyes and transplanting them on small animals. Probably within the next 100 years, the government will be able to take the fetus out of a woman's womb and grow it in a lab somewhere where it can be protected and born. Who knows, maybe there will be surrogate mothers lining up to take the unborn to ensure it is born.

There are many factors involved with each new life including who is going to love it and who is going to care for it. We can stick the baby in a government program but apparently most youth care professionals would never tell it that it was loved (if you have followed that recent topic on CYC). They say it is not their place to say that or that they don't want the love to be misinterpreted. I think the hardest part about it really is that a youth care professional then becomes more responsible for loving that child.

Maybe a better question at this time would be how ensure that all children are loved and cared for. Otherwise, you may just be contributing to more pain and suffering in the world. I'm on board if you want to talk about how to ensure that all children are loved and cared for.

Alfonso Ramirez, Jr.

I would never choose abortion for myself, however, I believe that it is an extremely personal decision and if someone is willing to live with the physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of their decision then that is up to them. I also believe that as much as the males should have input into whether or not an abortion is the choice it is ultimately up to the female to make the final decision. If the female decides to keep the baby then that child is hers for life, it is far too easy for males to walk away if they feel like the situation no longer suits them. It is also the woman who has to grow to love the unborn child over the course of the pregnancy and then give it away to another family. They are the ones are have to deal with that loss, and many women will continue to suffer the grief of their decision for years after. Men develop attachment with their children often times only after they are born. They may mourn the loss of an idea of parenthood, but they won't mourn the loss of a baby in the same way a woman will.

Jillian Viens

Hey Clayton,

That is quite a wide, sweeping statement and a very interesting perspective!

So, if I am reading your response correctly, you are saying that men should not have a say in whether women gets abortions or not because after the babies are born (or before), chances are that the men will bugger off, or not do what is necessary to ensure that the children are supported physically and emotionally? How do you propose that these situations, when men take more responsibility for the care and support of their children, improve?

I am very curious to read your helping ideas – after all, that is why we are here, correct?
Thank you for indulging me,

Ann Marie Beals

I have my own opinions about abortion, but i would like to speak about the protesters. What they should have done was try to talk to them on the way in by saying there are other options, have you thought about adoption, you both have a say in this, have you really thought about what your doing. Not saying anything to them on the way in but then screaming baby killer and other things as they leave they are just as guilty as the so called baby killers cause the didn't even attempt to stop it or discourage it before hand. Just by saying you both have a say in this the boy might have questioned or spoke up about how he was feeling. You can catch more bees with honey.

Terra Campbell

Hi Leah,

It interests me that you have declared your real motive which sounds very much like wanting to promote a particular religious perspective. It could be that there are not many respondents who align with your position in the sense that they see their role as supporting the client first and keeping their personal position in the background. There is no doubt we all have personal views and beliefs about when life begins etc but your view that it is "killing a human life" predisposes you to place the young women contemplating an abortion into the role of villain if they decide not to keep the child. Having seen a number of situations when a woman has had to make the decision to abort under very traumatic circumstances, making them feel guilty hardly seems to me a positive move. I would like to know how you put your religious views to one side and offer the young woman unbiased advice that fulfils your role as a youth worker acting in their best interests and not proselytising your own position? As I said previously, I am yet to come across any woman who considers aborting a foetus lightly. I am sure there are some but for most women it is a serious decision and the last thing they need is to feel further guilt and shame and have 'sinned' Of course the male partner should have input into the decision but in the end, it is still up to the female for reasons I have previously outlined.

John Amadio


Abortion is a very touchy subject for many people, and although it does take a man and a woman to make a baby, I just feel it would become much more complicated if men had a say in a woman getting an abortion. Now I do think women should consider what the father has to say but ultimately I still think the right should belong to the women. Also, how could this ever even work? For example: if the man wanted to keep the child but the women didn't, would they go to court? And if so, court would take way too long and by that time it would be too late to get an abortion. This is a very interesting and complex topic.

Prab Virdi

What man can have a say in a women's right for an abortion? Are we talking about the father of the fetus? Who's to say who the father is? The women wanting or not wanting a child? Her response on who the father is may be dependant on what she expects as a reaction by the father.

Would a rapist have a say in a woman's right to abort their child?

Would a father have a say in how the woman takes "care of" herself while she was harvesting his child?

What if a woman was stopped from having an abortion by the father? Would a father be ok with raising a developmentally challenged child because the woman tried to induce miscarriage with drugs and alcohol?

What if a woman wants the child but knows the 'real dad' doesn't? Can he tell her to abort? Would she just say she doesn't know who the dad is until she gives birth?


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