Social Issues

Counselling for men has little effect on abortions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 December, 2011, 12:00am

Getting an abortion is the way out for more than eight in 10 young unwed couples, despite a new counselling programme for the fathers-to-be.

The free counselling is being offered in a two-year pilot programme to men under the age of 26 who faced an unplanned pregnancy with their girlfriends.

A year into the scheme, 85 per cent of the participating couples opted to undergo legal abortions, the Family Planning Association found.

Senior counsellor Christina Cheung Wai-yee said abortion was certainly the most popular option. 'But at least if we can counsel them, they can have an abortion legally,' she said, because some tended to go down the path of an illegal abortion if they felt too ashamed to seek professional help.

The counselling is based on the view that young men need support just as much as their pregnant girlfriends.

'It's tough for the young men, too, because they often blame themselves for causing the pregnancy,' Cheung said. 'They need a channel to sort out their suppressed feelings because society feels that the boy should be rational and should not involve their emotions when faced with a problem.' The sessions helped men understand how best to communicate with and support their girlfriends, she said. They also provide professional advice on the options available in handling an accidental pregnancy.

Of the 238 men who have sought help through the programme since it started in October last year, 7 per cent decided to keep the child.

The women pay HK$90 for a counselling session, but the men's sessions are sponsored by Bank of China during the two year programme, which ends in September next year.

In the past, counsellors had asked the women to bring along their boyfriends for a chat; this programme marks the first time that counselling sessions catering solely to men have been offered.

Every year, the association sees about 2,400 women under the age of 26 seeking help for a pregnancy outside marriage, of whom about 80 per cent decide to have a legal abortion.