[Throwback Thursday — originally published on March 8th, 2013]
Abortion is a major issue in America. There are three main categories people usually fall into: always for abortions, always against abortions, and for abortions under certain circumstances. It seems that most of America falls into the third group.
According to a poll done in May of 2012, titled “Abortion”, by Gallup, 52% of people believed abortion should be legal in certain situations. While those situations are not clarified, it is still above the 20% who felt abortion should be flat-out illegal. 25% maintained the position that abortion should be legal no matter what, also still above those against it.
For the most part, Americans agree that it is a constitutional right for a woman to do what she wishes with her body, within certain guidelines. This is one of the most common arguments supporting abortion- her body, her choice. Therefore, it’s not very surprising that many pro-choicers often overlook the father’s role in the entire situation.
It takes two people to make a decision that results in an unplanned pregnancy. It only takes one to choose to terminate it.
Other than in cases of rape, incest, or the mother experiencing possible fatality; if the pregnancy is normal, healthy, etc., and simply not planned or wanted, the father should have a say in whether that pregnancy results in a child being born or not.
Abortion is known as a women’s rights issue, when it should be known as a couple’s rights issue.
Most of the arguments for fathers’ rights come from the pro-life side of the abortion issue, and because of this many of those on the opposite side disregard it, or ultimately disagree simply for the sake of disagreeing. More people need to learn the facts, and take into consideration that this is not a one-sided argument; it is simply a human argument.
In many other countries the woman must receive permission from her husband before having an abortion. Dahlia Lithwick explains how here in the Unites States, the father doesn’t even have to be informed of the pregnancy, let alone the decision to terminate it.
Three years after the legendary 1973 court ruling in Roe v. Wade, the case that ultimately made abortion legal, Planned Parenthood v. Danforth did away with the requirement of written consent from the woman’s partner. This was reiterated in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, stating even further that a woman need not tell her partner at all. All cases involving a father suing for his right for his child to be born have had the same outcome. While there do seem to be more cases, no judge wants to mess with women’s rights.
What about fathers’ rights?
A woman has many decisions when she becomes pregnant. She can carry out the pregnancy and keep the child. She can also give the child up for adoption; or she can choose to end the pregnancy. The father has one choice- to go along with what the mother chooses.
Sometimes, if the outcome is adoption, the father can fight for his rights to keep his child. However if a man does not want to be a father, yet the woman chooses to keep the baby, that man is forced to take care of his fatherly duties. Courts will rule that he must at least pay child support, which could very well be a huge burden on him, financially and emotionally. The man cannot merely sign over his rights and be done with it.
Yet, if the woman is not ready, and the man is, there is no way for him to keep his child. Even if the man tells the woman she will have no motherly duties, no child support, no anything, the man still does not have a chance at being the father he wants to be.
It is not fair that women can force men into something they do not want or are not ready for, yet men can’t even ask a woman to simply carry their child into the world, with no strings attached.
A father who doesn’t want to be a part of his child’s life is called a deadbeat, and it is actually illegal. A mother who decides she doesn’t want the burden of a child at all, on her body, mind, or wallet, is simply allowed to get rid of it (within 24 weeks of conception of course). This is the most overlooked double standard in history.
Women complain about the toll pregnancy and childbirth take on their bodies. Yes, there are always possibilities of complications during childbirth, yet this is an invalid argument because there are chances of something going wrong during an abortion. If you take the chance that you will get pregnant, you also take the chance that something will happen to you, no matter how you decide to handle the pregnancy.
Pregnancy gives a woman stretch marks and fat. She will most likely be uncomfortable during the pregnancy and delivery. However telling a man you are not giving his child a chance to live, and that he has no say in the matter, can cause lifelong emotional damage.
By now you make have taken my stance as pro-life. I assure you, I am quite the opposite. I am actually one of the women who chose not to have her child.
I did discuss and decide this with the father. Though it seemed forced because of our situation, we both agreed it was the right choice. To this day he still thinks about our never-born son. Sometimes he’ll seem distant out of nowhere; others he will simply cry for what I think is no reason; and sex, well sex will never be the same.
The heat of the moment never comes without its punishment. His head and heart go back to that day, and he remember the one act we are about to engage in previously resulted in this burden on his soul.
We’re not the only couple affected by the A word. It is hard enough to keep a relationship alive without the possibility of having a child, and even harder once the pregnancy is terminated. If both sides do not agree to the abortion, there is almost no chance the relationship will last.
A friend of mine adored his girlfriend before she got pregnant; after the pregnancy was terminated, he resented her. Another friend is begging his girlfriend, probably as you’re reading this, to not go through with it. Sadly, if she does their relationship will end as well.
Some may say those couples just weren’t strong enough. In reality, not having a choice in whether your child is born or not feels just the same as losing one you planned on having. It hurts for a long, long time. The pain may never fully go away. Would you be able to love someone who took that right away from you?
From a woman’s perspective, I fully agree that abortion should always remain legal. Yet while no woman should ever be told by a man or woman she does not know, or even the state or federal government, that she does not have a choice regarding her and her fetus’s future, this decision should be made by both her and her partner.
If women want equal rights, we should be prepared to give them as well. Taking this decision away from a would-be father could have serious, unwanted effects on everyone involved. Fairness triumphs pettiness, and although abortion is a serious matter, not allowing the other person responsible for the pregnancy to have a say in the final outcome is petty.