Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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Men & Abortion

with 3 comments

Conor wrote last week about the role of men in abortion decisions.

A culture that tells men they shouldn’t have any part in decisions about abortion, as portrayed at the “abortion party,” inevitably discourages them from responding to a pregnant girlfriend by asking, “What should we do?” And the notion that at most men should signal mutual investment in the process, and graciously support whatever the woman decides, may sound wonderful to a lot of people, but is it really realistic? A societal norm that elevates the woman’s choice above all else can certainly safeguard widespread access to abortions. But I suspect that the same norm inevitably leads some men to ask — wrongly in my view, but understandably — if you think that abortion is ethically unproblematic, and whether to have one or not is your choice, why should I have to pay child support for 18 years if you decide against having one?”

Feministing reported this week on a proposed Ohio bill that would require a woman to get a man’s signature before obtaining an abortion:

Rep. John Adams, a Republican from Sidney, wants to change that and the legislation he introduced today, House Bill 252, would require the biological father’s consent before an abortion can be done. The bill would apply to any abortion and would require written consent before it can be done.

Let’s disregard the ridiculousness (it will never be passed with a Democratic governor, and doesn’t Ohio have more important things to be worrying about right now? (Yes)) and offensiveness of this bill even being introduced. But to juxtapose responses to the questions raised by the outrageous Ohio bill and by Conor’s more thoughtful question, it’s always just struck me as so obvious that:

a) we shouldn’t require a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, because it’s ultimately her body being required to support a fetus’ development, and therefore any laws requiring a biological father’s permission would be utterly absurd, but

b) there should be a way for a man to opt out of raising a child he’s conceived! Even if you’re anti-abortion, you can conceive a child and give it up for adoption. It does seem unfair to me to say to men, ‘you got a woman pregnant, she wants to have/raise the child and you don’t, now please support it for 21 years.’ I do think child support laws are unfair in this situation, and there should be a time period where it’s legal for a man to say, no, I do not want any responsibility for this child, legally, financially, etc., and I hereby sign away all legal rights to see/talk to/have any claim to this child or the child’s mother, and if the mother still wants to carry the child to term/not give it up for adoption knowing that, she will have no legal recourse for collecting support for the child. If a father signs away all rights/responsibility to/with the child, and at some point later changes his mind, then he’s out of luck unless both he and the mother legally agree that this arrangement can be changed.


Written by Elizabeth

July 22, 2009 at 10:05 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Amen, sister!

    Look, if it came down to it, I would support a child if I impregnated a woman and she decided to keep it. That’s the choice I would make.

    But, the current law says that a woman gets full decision over whether or not to keep a baby (a rough financial difference of a few hundred thousand/a million dollars, depending on income level and inflation) AND can demand the man support it until the child has reached legal maturity. That ain’t right.

    I call shenanigans!


    July 23, 2009 at 9:33 am

  2. I don’t agree with making it possible for fathers to opt out of taking care of a child they created. This is why there are too many adoptions in the first place.

    The laws are so weak anyway that if fathers don’t want to help then they don’t.

    I believe that it would be better to just make it easier for people who have children. Child care in the work place, support for single parents, tax breaks, child care in schools and college.

    Adoption is really the worst thing that can happen to a mother, trust me you don’t want to go promoting something as traumatic as that.

    How is saying that a father should be allowed to abandon the mother of his child and not help out being feminist? I am really trying to understand how you would say it’s a feminist viewpoint?

    Or did I misread the title of your blog?


    July 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm

  3. I love how woman desperately cling to abortion in an attempt to maintain their “freedom” very much the same way they did with the abortion pill. Only, an abortion pill is an ACTUAL preventative method, whereas abortion is a frantic last minute attempt to make up for the fact that a woman and her spouse were both reckless and careless. In that sense, I don’t think that women and feminist can look at the two the same. What it really comes down to is the fact that it takes two people to make a child and yet oddly only one to decide whether it deserves to live or not. Men need to get their heads out of their figurative asses, stop feeding into the guilt that people try to put on us, and demand that if women truly want equality, that we be treated equally at ALL times, NOT only when it is convenient for a female. If a woman wanted to keep a child and a male didn’t, which happens often, it is easy for her to ensure that no harm will come to that fetus. It is surprising that females do understand how we feel on account of a women would think it monstrous if a man could go to a facility and have the fetus snatched from her stomach without her consent. If a male struck a woman in the stomach and she lost her unborn child, she would think it odd if that man were not trialed for murder. It is incredibly ironic and sad that the same isn’t said for my brother’s ex-girlfriend who secretly had an abortion when he even promised her that she wouldn’t have to have anything to do with the child. Those of you who tell a man that he has no say so are truly the ones who are absurd. Except for cases of rape, incest, or other complications, there is no reason why a father shouldn’t have a say so in the abortion of his child. You are all monsters.

    My solution? Pro-choice with father’s consent, given normal circumstances. Should a mother not want the child, a legal deal will be made before a court. When the child is born the father will take custody and the mother will pay child support the same way a man would if his girlfriend kept a child that he didn’t want. It seems fair to me and incredibly equal and if most feminist were not such hypocrites, they would marvel at how just and unbiased such a law would be.


    March 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm

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