Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘reproductive rights

Men & Abortion

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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.

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Written by ENB

July 22, 2009 at 10:05 pm