Allan Cravalho has told his daughter he really did love her, he just didn’t know it at the time.
He’s prayed to his daughter, later named Jennifer, who was conceived with his then girlfriend in Hawaii in the 1980s.
The abortion happened so quickly.
“One day she says she’s pregnant,” said Cravalho about his then girlfriend. “She wasn’t Catholic but I was, and I should have known better. I allowed it to happen.”
The St. Mary Church parishioner has found healing and forgiveness through his faith journey and the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat in Denver.
“I think it’s something I’m continuing to work through,” said Cravalho, 58. “I had buried this hurt for a lot of years. I do feel there’s forgiveness for what happens.”
Now he’s working to reach out to other fathers who’ve experienced the regret of abortion.
So often its impact on fathers is forgotten, he said.
“The thing for me that always hurts—although my situation was different—is that the male has no rights to that child,” he said.
Federal law does not require fathers to either be informed about or required to consent to an abortion.
Pro-abortion advocates frame a decision to abort as a woman’s “right” or issue, but men across the country have given testimonies revealing their own sense of loss and failure after an abortion.
Jason Baier, founder of Fatherhood Forever, is quoted about his own experience after abortion.
“As I reached out to different people for help, there were few who understood why I was in so much pain. ‘Just get over it … it was only an abortion’ they would tell me. But I couldn’t. It was more than just an abortion. I had lost my child and no one seemed to understand.”
Fatherhood Forever launched the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, part of which conducts an outreach to men who regret their lost fatherhood.
Regardless of the father’s role in the abortion decision, their parenthood was cut short.
Bradley Mattes, CEO of the Life Issues Institute, has said this lost fatherhood will surface in destructive behavior or feelings of defeat, powerlessness and confusion.
Men’s instinctual desire to procreate, protect and provide for their family can be damaged once lost fatherhood is realized.
A survey released in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology revealed some 52 percent of male college students reported feeling regret following an abortion.
The findings suggested that men may “be more inclined to experience pronounced post abortive effects than women, because the decision to abort is ultimately the female’s and the final decision opted for may not be congruent with the male’s choice.”
The Life Issues Institute reports the most evident symptom in men from the loss of a child to abortion is anger.
“His anger and frustration at not being able to protect and provide for his unborn baby, because of abortion, may manifest itself in other ways,” the institute reports.
Drugs or alcohol or becoming a workaholic is one sign.
Future relationships with women may also become difficult. A lack of control over life-impacting decisions may cause resentment and mistrust of women, it reports.
The stigma for Cravalho remains, he said.
He’s felt much pain but experienced the endless mercy of God after becoming on fire for his faith once he moved to Denver. He now has a family and one son who is a priest.
He and his family participated in the inaugural San Francisco March for Life and last year in Denver’s March for Life. He held a sign, “I regret my lost fatherhood.”
“Holding the sign boldly proclaims that as a father, I didn’t do what I should have done,” Cravalho said.
The sign still sits in his garage, ready for the next pro-life march when he hopes other men will join him in finding healing.
It’s as important for men to raise awareness of lost fatherhood and help men realize “that God really loves you,” he said.
40 Days for Life
Join the international effort to end abortion by praying at vigils in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins through Palm Sunday, April 13. Find out more by visiting www.40DaysForLife.com.
The founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to that seeks to inform about the devastation of abortion on men and women.
Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries
The Priests for Life ministry’s confidential weekend retreats for men and women seeking healing after an abortion.
Denver phone: 720-271-7406 or 303-904-7414
Next retreat: July 11-13
A ministry of Catholic Charities that seeks to help post-abortive parents return to full communion with the Church.