So I woke up this morning to the most extreme, misogynist and downright offensive piece of proposed anti-abortion legislation I’ve ever seen. What, you ask, could possibly be worse than parental notification, requirements that women see an ultrasound, requirements that women be told that their fetus is a baby, or be told that their fetus can feel pain, or straight-out bans?

Requiring written permission from the fetus’ father.

Yes, I understand that on a practical level, an outright abortion ban is much worse than this proposal. But on a purely intellectual and theoretical level, this Ohio bill offends me far more. It treats women as property. It treats abortion as a valid choice– as long as it’s not a choice that the woman make on her own. It raises a sperm-donor to the same level as the woman who actually endures a pregnancy. And it takes women’s bodies hostage by a specific person.

No. Really. It is that bad.

As written, the bill would ban women from seeking an abortion without written consent from the father of the fetus. In cases where the identity of the father is unknown, women would be required to submit a list of possible fathers. The physician would be forced to conduct a paternity test from the provided list and then seek paternal permission to abort.

Claiming to not know the father’s identity is not a viable excuse, according to the proposed legislation. Simply put: no father means no abortion. [. . .]

In addition, women would be required to present a police report in order to prove a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Sometimes, there are no words.

As a final kick in the (pregnant?) gut, those advocating this law are also framing it as an issue of “choice” and “rights”– for the father of the fetus. These are “pro-life,” anti-choice radical bigots– the kind who howl about the poor, unborn “children” and condemn any woman who makes the choice to end her pregnancy as a selfish, murdering slut. We sure as hell can’t trust women to make a choice about her pregnancy. But hey, maybe with a man’s help, we can. Not only that, but unlike women, men deserve the RIGHT to that CHOICE.

. . . and then I cry.

via Feministing.


1 Stupendousness August 1, 2007 at 11:54 am

At its core, this law is assuming that the fetus is a person, with the same rights and subject to the same laws as a viable, newborn baby.

Biological fathers do have equal rights to the custody of their BORN children. And this law is saying that biological fathers also have custody rights over a fetus. Which means this law defines a fetus as a person.

2 Cara August 1, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Interesting hypothesis, but I’m not convinced. If that were the case, wouldn’t the law then sanction killing a child as long as both parents said it was okay?

3 Stupendousness August 1, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Yes, that would be the logical conclusion. But I don’t think the creators of this bill are logical and have not contemplated all of the implications of what they’re doing.

What if the father is dead? What if he doesn’t really want the child but, out of spite or whatever, gives permission anyway and then leaves the mother? What if the father is put in jail or falls into a coma after the conception? If the father is unable to help care for the child, then does the mother get full control or does she have to submit herself to some other power?

I doubt Rep. John Adams has thought about all of this shit.

But the bill makers don’t actually think abortion should be legal. The article you linked to starts off with: “Several Ohio state representatives who normally take an anti-abortion stance are now pushing pro-choice legislation – sort of.”

They’re grasping for a reach-around. They know that getting the biological father to sign a permission slip will be freakin’ hard as hell in many cases.

I think the organizations who support this are going to turn it into a father’s-rights issue. That article quoted the director of the Ohio Right to Life Society as saying, “Pregnancy is a unique human condition and obviously a woman is affected differently than a man. As a woman, I can sympathize. However, to completely take rights away from the father is unfair.”

4 Roy August 1, 2007 at 2:59 pm

I think it’s like another commenter (norbizness) said on the feministing thread: These guys don’t expect or even really want this to pass. They want publicity and they want to shock people. They haven’t thought the practical aspects of this law out because they know it doesn’t stand a cold day in hell’s chance of passing.

5 Tracey August 2, 2007 at 6:02 pm

I live in Ohio, and this makes me so ashamed of my state, but, luckily, it is true that this wouldn’t have a chance to pass. We elected a democratic majority and a democratic governor this past election. What REALLY bothers me is how much support this legislation seems to have from the commenters at the link you posted. Absolutely disgusting. They really just don’t have any grasp on the reality of what women have to face when it comes to reproductive responsibility, do they?

6 Cara August 2, 2007 at 6:05 pm

I think that very few people do realize it. It always makes me want to bang my head against a wall when those polls come out that say most Americans want abortion to be legal, but they also want it to be more difficult to obtain. As if wasn’t difficult to obtain, already! Unfortunately, I also think that most people don’t really care what these women have to face, either.

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