4 Things the Telegraph Gets Wrong About “Spousal Consent” for Abortions
It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the multitude of abortion restrictions that have been proposed and passed in the last few years in the United States, which literally number in the hundreds. So it probably isn’t that surprising that a columnist in the United Kingdom isn’t getting any of his facts right when it comes to his proclamation that men are finally, potentially getting to have input over whether or not the women they impregnate carry to term.
According to an opinion piece in The Telegraph, author Neil Lyndon is heralding the long awaited news that husbands could potentially have the ability to veto a wife’s decision to end a pregnancy, based on an Ohio law he apparently just heard about. The problem, as the tiniest bit of research could have shown him, is there is no such law being considered. And that’s just one fact he got wrong.
1) The Ohio bill was proposed years ago. There’s a reason that Lyndon doesn’t link to an actual news story but instead to some random website for divorce when it comes to “news” that Ohio is proposing a spousal consent bill. Spousal consent was actually proposed (and failed) in 2007, then again in 2009 for a very, very brief legislative blink of an eye. It has not been introduced again since then, and certainly not any time recently, leaving Lyndon’s declaration that this “faint tremor is being felt in the stronghold of an implacable order that has held power across the developed world for the past 50 years” completely without merit.
2) This was not the first time “father‘s consent“ was debated. Lyndon claims, “So far as I know (and this subject has been on my mind for over 25 years), this is the first time since the development of abortion by vacuum curettage in the 1960s – and David Steele’s Abortion Act of 1967 which made that simple, safe technology available to all women under the NHS – that any legislature has given consideration to the possibility that a man who has effected a pregnancy ought to be accorded a voice in its termination.” Apparently, he doesn’t know much. Spousal consent was the cornerstone restriction of a package of abortion restrictions and regulations blocked in 1992, in the case that eventually became what is known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That court ruling became the precursor of today’s “undue burden” standard, which says that abortion can be restricted in the first trimester as long as the restrictions did not make it too difficult for someone to obtain a termination. Spousal consent did not fit that standard, and was considered to be unconstitutional, whereas parental consent and waiting periods were found at the time to not constitute an undue burden.
3) “Men‘s views and feelings on this issue have been absolutely inadmissible.“ Perhaps things are different in Lyndon’s world, but here in the United States men have had massive amounts of influence on the abortion debate. National and local legislatures made up primarily of men have passed numerous restrictions on women’s bodily rights, including terminating and preventing pregnancy. One of the most powerful voices in the anti-abortion movement has been the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an entirely male group, who has forced abortion coverage and birth control out of almost all state or federally funded health care plans. The “regretting lost fatherhood“ crusade has become a new facet of the Silent No More Campaign, and “Fatherhood Begins in the Womb” is the push to ensure that men talk their pregnant partners into carrying to term. To say that men are not being allowed any say simply because they are being stopped short of being allowed to veto her decision to end a pregnancy is laughable.
4) Women should have to have a baby because the father of the child wants her to. And this, frankly, is the part that Lyndon is the most wrong about. Regardless of the rest of his mistakes and ignorance around America’s abortion laws over the past few decades, the real problem is the fact that he truly appears to believe that his right to see his potential children born supersedes the rights of whomever he impregnated to not want to continue a pregnancy for nearly 10 months, go through the physical ordeal of pregnancy and birth, or have a child.
You simply do not hold the right to force someone to be pregnant because you want that child. That, inherently, is the motive behind spousal consent, and it is for that reason that pregnant people will never be forced to get a partner’s approval in order to have an abortion.
America has a number of awful, horrible abortion restrictions. No one needs to make up new assaults just to score political points in their commentary.
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