Male Veto For Abortion in Ohio?

In teaching about abortion, one position the students *here* find so appalling as to be barely worth discussing is the idea of a male veto for abortion decisions. But in Ohio, a bill mandating this is being considered. Planned Parenthood of Ohio writes:

One year ago, State Rep. John Adams (R-Sidney) introduced one of the most outrageous pieces of legislation we have ever seen. House Bill 287 would require a woman to have the written informed consent of the prospective father of her fetus before being allowed to have an abortion.

That’s right… If the man says “No,” there will be no abortion.Period!

This bill may actually be scheduled for hearings in the coming weeks. To raise awareness about this offensive bill, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio is partnering with ProgressOhio, an outreach organization that builds awareness of legislative issues.

You’re not going to believe this… HB 287 also requires that, if the identity of the prospective
father is unknown, a paternity test must be performed to determine his identity so that his consent could be obtained prior to performing the abortion.

What is left unsaid is that prenatal paternity testing: cannot be performed until at least the 10th week of pregnancy, near the end of the first trimester; is an invasive procedure using a long needle through the abdomen to collect fetal cells; is expensive – up to $2,000 per test;
and poses a potential medical risk. The practical effect of the paternity test requirement would
prevent some women from obtaining an abortion during the first trimester.

Once paternity is established, if the man says “No,” there will be no abortion.

Even worse if… If the pregnancy resulted from rape, the woman would be required
to provide a police report proving it. If the pregnancy resulted from incest, the woman would be
required to provide a paternity test or a police report. If the woman chooses not to identify the prospective father (perhaps out of fear for her own physical well-being), her only recourse would be to continue the pregnancy against her wishes or have an illegal abortion, a first degree misdemeanor.

To sign a petition against it, go here. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

16 thoughts on “Male Veto For Abortion in Ohio?

  1. I wonder (while actually I don’t wonder but I think it would be an interesting thing to put before the Senator) what he would think about cases where the woman wants to proceed with the pregnancy but the prospective or alleged father doesn’t want her to. I can recall a few instances from back in high school where this was the case.

  2. Mind-boggling indeed. It’s just so wrong on so many levels I have a hard time finding a suitable response.

    I guess it goes to show what we think is hardly worth discussing should be anyway, because some people hold very different views, and pandering should never be “misunderestimated”. At least such a discussion might help me overcome my confusion as to where to start refuting that discourse.

    I wished I could just say it’s all a politician’s drivel in an election year, but some people I’ve met make me less confident. I really have a hard time trying to relate to these people, and this utter failure of empathy makes we wonder whether I’m suffering from group-think and should try and hang out with them again.

    Kuri, I think that’s an interesting but very different question, even taking that legislative proposal at face value — as opposed to yet another attempt to ban abortion altogether. I think that such an angle could make those hearings less worthless by making that senator shed his pretense, but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. While I still have to say that if any given woman wants an abortion it is no one elses business, for any reason, this is strangely reminiscent of the welfare changes made in Ohio that kept so many kids from even having government cheese. I forget what year it was, I know it was before my best friends oldest, they decided in Ohio, the land of no jobs, that one MUST put the fathers name on the birth certificate in order to get any of what they call benefits, haha, of welfare. So these men who sprint away at the word baby were now on the certificates, many times maing it MUCH worse for the kid when anyone saw the name, or for a woman who couldnt exactly give a name.
    One thing about this frightens me more than anything and that is if the woman has to pay for this test then most women in ohio wont be able to get legal abortions anymore as most owmen here dont make that much in a month altogether, that would place a single woman above the poverty line. SO it is just that they are trying to keep abortions for women with alot of money and stop it for those with low or no income, it is would it sounds like to me!
    Another frightening thing is that if it is a case of incest then the old man knows that the young girl is having a baby and that she has outed him, very dangerous situation for the young girl because just being pregnant by your molester is so very dangerous even if you takke vcare of it without him knowing.
    Another thing to think about is where might you FIND the man after he has heard the word baby, really they are like fog burned in the sun, so then i think that that means the woman would have to pay detectives to find him, again leaving out those with no money to live on.
    i think there is a good way around this though IF they will let men sign without a test, you could ask anyone to sign.
    This just gets more frightening the more i think about it. What about teenage girls forced into prostitution, this, i can tell you all from experience, is quite rampant in northeast ohio. The pool of men who the father could be would be enormous for those girls, where is this database with all this DNA in it, that would mean thatg every man even passing through ohio would have to have dna on file, so then they would be spending all this money on DNA files while so many in ohio are literally starving. Typical.
    This holds for pedophiles who of course want another little kid around, i am so glad i am old enough to protect myself, if this had been in effect when I was a young teenager, wow, i cant imagine, needless to say i could bet i would not be sitting here writing this now!
    I guess the teenagers i know who have to live with men in the house ought to start stocking up on quinine like in the old days. Maybe every heterosexual woman should say no sex for any man until abortion is securely legal without all these prohibitions, that would make it stop really quickly!

  4. I really have a hard time trying to relate to these people, and this utter failure of empathy makes we wonder whether I’m suffering from group-think and should try and hang out with them again.

    Yeah. See here for my attempt at making the case for paternal veto rights more comprehensible.

  5. Thanks Richard, the discussion going on in the comments is quite interesting. That was my first visit to your blog, but it probably won’t be my last.

    I think I can relate to the case where the prospective father objects to an abortion — I think it’s ultimately the woman’s choice, but I understand the other side. But what’s puzzling me is the aspect of that bill that goes beyond your explanations: the paternity test and consent requirement. Nevermind the legal mayhem that would introduce in American family laws, what’s bothering me is the reason for wanting to identify the man so that he can decide. That’s a very different case than what your post is about — that’s why I put this comment here — as there is no emotional attachment in that case. And it’s much more than a veto, because the woman must prove that the man actively consents to the abortion.

  6. Yeah, this particular implementation sounds pretty misguided. But perhaps the motivation behind it is more respectable than is acknowledged here. Consider: in the case I discuss, it’s not just the subjective emotions of the father that matter. Rather, they indicate a deeper moral interest that parents have in their children, and this is an interest that – like any other – can be violated without one’s realizing it. So if we acknowledge that parents have a legitimate moral interest in protecting and raising any children they might conceive, then it is pro tanto wrong to terminate a fetus without both parents’ consent. (This is evidenced by the fact that if the deceived parent later found out about the surreptitious termination, they could – rightly – feel wronged by the past event. It is not the event of subjectively learning about the termination that they are wronged by, it is the prior event itself — the one which robbed them of the child they never even knew they had.) If this is a serious moral wrong, then it is at least understandable that some would be tempted to use the law to guard against it; whether this is really wise depends, of course, on the broader consequences.

  7. Thanks again Richard, that does make sense. I still feel that would apply to more than abortion and the singling out doesn’t pass the smell test, but I agree that this particular law isn’t doing justice to that position. Do you think that moral stand would call for identifying and notifying the father when the mother keeps the child, or offers her for adoption?

  8. I’ve certianly read about cases of men involved in relationships being heart-broken at an abortion of a fetus they helped create, and I can understand, I’m pretty sure, the desire to have more control over the situation.

    I find, though, that my intuitions are very different in the following sort of case: Suppose a heterosexual couple find the female partner can’t produce eggs, so they hire a surrogate, who is impregnanted with his sperm. Does that mean that two months into the pregnancy, if the surrogate decides she can’t go through with it, they should be able to force her? I have no sense that they should be able to.

    Thinking about this has led me to wonder if the first sort of case isn’t trading on something other than a commitment male parent. Perhaps it is in come ways like the artist or architect who finds a client wants to destroy a work purchased. It seems awful for artists to bear having beloved works destroyed, but, despite feeling on the artists’ side, I couldn’t support their having that control.

  9. jj, that surrogate case is quite interesting. I agree with your position, and it made me think of a more extreme case.

    A friend of mine can produce eggs, but she has to take medication that would be very harmful, and most likely deadly, to a fetus. If she and her partner hired a surrogate to go through the pregnancy, should they have a say — either way — about an abortion? Ultimately, I’d say “no” in all case, despite not being comfortable about some situations, because it’s the surrogate’s body.

    On the other hand, I would also deny the surrogate any right to change her mind and keep the baby once delivered, but give her the right — not duty — to adopt the child if the couple no longer wants it. That could happen during the pregnancy as well. I wrote “wants” because I don’t want to say “can raise”, that would put me on a slippery slope about defining that ability.

    Convoluted and confused thinking on my part, but that’s in part because that example hits close to home. Anyway, thanks to both of you for at least making me aware of where I stand on such matters.

    jj, are you familiar with contemporary art? I’m asking because I could interpret your comparison with an artist in very different ways as to the reasons for your not supporting that control. Going through all these has been very enlightening anyway, and rest assured I’m not assuming anything about what your actual reasons are.

  10. Counterfnord,

    Yes, to the interest in art. There have been a couple of recent cases here in the states, not always involving alive artists. One of Philip Johnson’s famous homes is under threat. I think something by Richard Serra is also under threat, and he’s alive to protest (I hope I’m right here). It strikes me as very wrenching.

    Who keeps the baby is really interest and, I think you are right, quite different.

  11. I agree that this bill is outrageous, especially the part about unknown prospective fathers. Since I live in Ohio, I’ve emailed my state-rep.

    But conversely, if a woman proceeds to have a baby over the man’s disagreement, should he be forced to pay child support? I don’t think he should be—her autonomy should also entail responsibility—but I’m curious about opinions from the other side.

  12. Elizabeth Brake has a really interesting and provocative paper on this, arguing on feminist grounds that men should not always be required to pay child support in such cases (but that the state should give far more support than it now does pretty much anywhere). It’s “Fatherhood and Child Support: Do Men Have a Right to Choose?,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 22 (2005) 55-73.

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