After discussing the lack of men’s legal rights in abortion in school for the past couple of days, I tackled my old text books and notes from my Life Issues and the Law class in college. Here are some important points, mostly dealing specifically with married men’s rights (or lack thereof), though they imply a great deal about non-married men as well:
In a 1976 Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, a decision was handed down regarding fathers’ rights in abortion. One of the findings was that a man’s right to know about his wife or daughter’s abortion is “unconstitutional.”
- The Supreme Court refused to hear the
v. Conn case regarding a man who won a court order in 1988 barring his wife from having an abortion. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, the woman defied court orders and had the abortion anyway. Her lawyer “stated in legal documents that ‘she did what she had to do to protect both her physical and emotional health’” (The Facts of Life: An Authoritative Guide to Life and Family Issues by Brian Clowes, Ph.D., page 31). But court documents “showed that she had the abortion because she had planned a trip to the beach and wanted to look good in her new bathing suit!” (ibid). Conn.
- The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear this case implicitly proved that fathers have no legal rights when it comes to abortion.
- The Supreme Court decision, Casey v. Planned Parenthood in 1992 also commented on this issue. They considered it an “undue burden” on women to have to share their abortion decision (or even notification) with their husband. They relied heavily on the argument that it may cause psychological or physical abuse on the part of the husband. Part of the decision said, “The husband’s interest in the life of the child his wife is carrying does not permit the State to empower him with this troubling degree of authority over his wife. … A state may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.”
- In Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court also said that if this were the case of a woman notifying her husband about taking action regarding their “living child,” then the mother and father would presumably have equal interest in the matter. However, they stated that, “It is an inescapable biological fact that state regulation with respect to the child a woman is carrying will have a far greater impact on the mother’s liberty than on the father’s.”
- These cases all applied to husbands. If a married man is given no say in abortion, then neither is a single man.
I don’t understand how a father can be given no legal rights when a child is just as much his as it is the woman’s. Obviously the child is living inside of the mother’s womb, but it is not part of her body. It is upsetting to know that informing a baby’s father about an abortion decision is legally considered an unnecessary burden on women. Fortunately, no law can stop a man from expressing his views concerning abortion.