Abortion rights advocates have recently grabbed headlines with their effort to “de-stigmatize” abortion by offering spa-like abortion services.
Less well-known is another recent innovation in the world of abortion: Offering simulated abortion experiences for pro-choice gay men.
The procedure is exactly what it sounds like: A gay man, though biologically unable to have children and unlikely to ever father his own, receives a full abortion experience, minus the actual abortion.
Dr. Kristel Caulfield, an abortionist at the Williamsburg Women’s Center in Brooklyn, said the center initially offered a mock abortion procedure as a one-off gesture for a young tech millionaire and his husband who had made a generous donation to the clinic. Word spread, however, and soon several other gay couples were asking to try the procedure themselves, so the clinic made it an official offering.
“Women’s reproductive rights are a much more abstract matter for gay men,” said Caulfield. “So it’s really heartwarming to see them show in such a powerful way how much they still care about the issue.”
Eric Lefkowitz, 30, said the new service offered a unique opportunity to grow closer with his partner, 25-year-old Brayden Nordgaard.
“Brayden is so, so special to me, and we both agree that having the right to choose is incredibly important,” said Lefkowitz. “We shouldn’t lose the ability to affirm that choice simply because we’re gay.”
As part of the mock procedure, Nordgaard went through every part of an abortion procedure that a woman would typically go through. He was dressed up in a medical gown, and had local anesthetic administered to his pelvic region. A mock fetus was then inserted up his rectum, only to be removed minutes later via the vacuum aspiration method used for most surgical abortions.
“I know this absolutely can’t compare with what real women have to go through,” said Nordgaard. “But I like to imagine that I understand their experience a little better. And of course, it’s awesome to know that Eric is willing to stand by me through such a difficult decision.”
Those willing to pay extra can have the mock abortion include not just the procedure itself but the lead-up as well, including a mock medical examination that may include a doctor reviewing the pregnant man’s options and using a fake ultrasound to see how far along in the “pregnancy” they are. One couple, Caulfield said, even paid to have fake protesters jeer them as they walked into the clinic.
“They really wanted to understand what women have to go through in less progressive states that don’t respect the right to choose,” she said.
Caulfield says that clinics in four other states, including Texas and Washington, have contacted her expressing an interest in starting up male abortion programs of their own.