Divorce is often ugly, especially when the couple have children to parent. However, one custody fight in New York recently went beyond the pale in terms of viciousness when the man’s lawyer demanded that his ex-wife be questioned about an abortion she underwent and how it could have affected her ability to raise her children.
According to the New York Daily News, Eleanor Alter, the divorce lawyer for Manuel Mehos, obtained medical records from ex-wife Lisa Mehos stating that she had an abortion and asked the judge in the case to allow her to question the woman about the procedure.
The attorney justified the questioning, saying, “[T]his is a woman who complains that she’s under great stress only caused by Mr. Mehos. I would be the first person to acknowledge that having an abortion, especially a two- to three-month late abortion, would be stressful.”
Emily Jane Goodman, Ms. Mehos’ lawyer, found the questioning offensive. “I think the very idea of the potential of using, against a woman in a custody case, the fact that she may have had an abortion sets women’s rights and the rights of choice back in a way that I can’t imagine this court would want to be associated,” she said.
The judge disagreed and allowed Mr. Mehos’s lawyer to question Ms. Mehos about the termination.
Allowing a woman’s abortion to be used in a custody battle, regardless of whether it occurred before or after the divorce, is an absolute new low when it comes to the idea of shaming women for choosing not to carry a pregnancy to term. The idea being presented is simple: A good mother would never seek out an abortion, so if she ends a pregnancy, she must be an unfit one.
According to Guttmacher, over 60 percent of those who have abortions already have children. The idea that every one of them is somehow a bad mother, or should feel as if she were one, is laughable. In fact, many say that it is for their families, and the benefit of the children who they have given birth to and are caring for, that they seek an abortion in the first place.
As Dr. Susan Robinson, one of the providers featured in “After Tiller,” put it in a recent Huffpo Live interview, “People have abortions because they want to be good mothers and they know that they cannot mother this pregnancy adequately.”
With one in three women having an abortion at some point, and 60 percent of those having abortions already having at least one child, that’s a whole lot of women out there to be painted as “bad moms” who shouldn’t be allowed to have custody of their children.
Even worse is lawyer Eleanor Alter’s assumption that Ms. Mehos must be under stress because of having an abortion, because abortions must be inherently stressful. Although abortion opponents have long brought up “post abortion stress syndrome” as an alleged psychiatric trauma disorder that countless patients experience after terminating a pregnancy, no legitimate mental health group supports their false claims.
In fact, a recent Berkley study showed that 90 percent of women who were able to receive an abortion when they wanted one reported feelings of relief a week after.
Does abortion cause women to be debilitated by stress? No. Does it cause them to be unfit parents to their children? Absolutely not. Is Mr. Mehos’ lawyer using tired anti-choice rhetoric to try to get her client a win? Yes. What’s even sadder is that the judge is letting her do it, and violating Ms. Mehos’ medical privacy and legal rights in the process.
Abortion, neither long in the past or a more recent one, has no place in a custody battle. Let’s keep it that way.
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