This one is for Mssc54, who can get a little cranky about it’s never being mentioned.
So a woman wants to abort. Should the father of the child be able to control her decision?
Let’s start somewhere other than where people expect us to. Let’s talk about a (somewhat) happily married couple. They already have five children together and live in a small house in a small town. She works from home part time while the older kids are in school, and he did own his own business until the bottom fell out of their town’s economy and their business was forced to close. They are considering pulling up roots and moving closer to where her parents live- her parents have offered her employment, and he can find some kind of part-time work until they can start a new business or he figures out what he wants to do with his life.
Their savings account is nearing zero- they don’t have much time to figure things out. That’s when she finds out she’s pregnant- despite being on the pill and being responsible. He immediately wants to keep the child, discounting the fact that it will “make things hard” for them for a while. He wants six kids, and they have four boys and one girl. He’d like another girl.
She is horrified, thinking of how is she going to be able to work at all with an infant? Right after a move? How is all of this stress going to affect the pregnancy? Her husband is a bit of an emotional wreck- the roller coaster they are going to be on until all the pieces fall back together is hard enough without adding an infant. They already have five happy kids- they never even considered having another one until it just happened.
So- should the father be able to force the mother to keep the child? Keep in mind that both parties do want to stick together and work things out in their marriage- but if he is able to legally compel her that would totally change the ball game. And while they may be able to make everything work having this baby- at this point in her life the woman isn’t exactly young any more and it could be really, really hard. Yes- they could have it and put it up for adoption, but the older kids would likely be very confused and hurt by that. If they have the baby, they’re keeping it- but if they keep it it’s at the expense of their entire family- a family already indebted to relatives to just make it through.
You might tell me that story is ridiculous- but keep in mind a not small percentage of abortions are performed on women who already have more than one child and cannot afford another baby.
Now- let’s keep avoiding the point everyone expects and talk about teenage boys. Let’s imagine seventeen year old Rick knocks up fourteen year old Tammy. Tammy’s parents encourage her to have an abortion. Tammy herself is terrified and nearly incapable of making her own decisions. Tammy’s doctor says that she is still a little young to be carrying this child to term, that it may affect her body more severly than would be expected with a normal pregnancy. So Tammy’s parents and Tammy’s doctor are both “pro-abortion”- Tammy is young and scared and unsure- but Rick, Rick wants this baby. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Rick didn’t use protection and Tammy was naive. So let’s say that Rick is, in fact, responsible for this pregnancy.
Does a young kid have the right to force an even younger one to have a baby? If her parents and her doctor all agree that abortion is the most sensible course of action, should the father be able to force the girl to have the child?
Now, legally speaking- if it became possible for the father in one of these cases to get an injunction to force the mother to bear the child- whose responsibility would it be to pay for the paternity test to insure that he really is the father? Whose responsibility would it be to pay for expenses relating to the pregnancy? Whose responsibility would it be to pay for the delivery of the child? For housing for the mother, if she is booted out of her house?
How would we go about insuring that the father’s rights have not been neglected? Will women then have to have some sort of legal form indicating that the father was informed and supports the abortion?
And that leads us where we’re going, so to speak. Let’s talk about the fact that while “forcible rape” may be the stated reason for less than one percent of rapes, it’s the unstated reason for more. Let’s talk about abusive relationships in which the girl simply isn’t able to stand up for herself, where sex is forced on her in a way that is an awful lot like rape, where she trades her will and loses control. Let’s talk about incest and rape by a relative- things so shameful that a girl would rather lie and say she had unprotected sex with another kid than admit that a brother, cousin, or father was raping her.
There is no legal recourse for the father of the unborn child not because of the majority of the time when his feelings have (hopefully) been considered by the mother- but for the minority of the time when having legal recourse for the father would further hurt those who are already being abused.
The same is true of parental notifications- they would simply inflame situations in which girls are at very high risk of abuse, neglect, or endangerment from their parents. One might flippantly say “then why don’t those girls leave?” but to say that shows an incredible lack of insight into what life is like for the abused. There are numerous books on the subject, all outlining the amazing power that an abuser has over the abused, even after they are free. The amount of control placed over a person’s mind, the loss of will, the acceptance of abuse and even torture…
So should the father have legal rights to the unborn?
To do so would give him legal control of the mother, perhaps even to the point that he could control what doctor she saw, where and what she ate, if she was allowed to have coffee or take her depression meds… in this case the “slippery slope” argument makes sense to me, and I don’t like where it’s sliding. As a woman I like to have control of my own body and uterus. Woe be it to the man who tries to take that away from me!