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November 01, 2005

Comments

evil_fizz

Hugo, I'd encourage you to check out Dahlia Lithwick's article on this point. http://www.slate.com/id/2069132/ She argues that while excluding fathers from these kinds of reproductive decisions is unjust, there is also no good alternative. "The woman's monopoly on abortion persists because the law just can't overcome our gender-bound bodies." Further, "The womb wins. The courts won't stomach forcing a woman to bear a child against her will."

(The article is about a 2002 case where a father tried to prevent his ex-girlfriend from having an abortion.)

I also think that Sacks is mistaken when he says that "Alito simply acknowledged the principle that husbands and fathers also have a reasonable interest in their unborn children." To me it suggests that Alito thinks fathers ought to have power (perhaps veto power?) in making the decision. That's something I can't get on board with. Like Lithwick, I know it isn't fair, but I am really not seeing an alternative.

Hugo

Thanks for the link, fizz. Indeed, it's unequal -- but any conceivable (pun intended) remedy would be infinitely more unequal. Lithwick puts it nicely.

mythago

In what law or part of the Constitution is this "principle" based, I wonder?

I also wonder why Glenn supports a law that is merely a notification. After all, the husband has no right to do anything about the abortion. And certainly we're not advocating that a father, told that his wife is having an abortion and that's too damn bad, try to do anything other than talk her out of it...right?

Wookie

I read your blog a lot Hugo, so I know you recently got married (congrats) but how would you feel (from your pro - life stance) if your new wife decided to abort your child?

What is wrong with the husband getting notice of this event happening, yes they may want to talk to the woman involved about it, there may be other issue in her decision to go ahead with it (not always abuse as some keep making out)

The father of that child has a right to know, so they can make their own decisions about the relationship they are in. To some men the act of doing as you describe is so bad too them that they may wish to end the relationship with that woman, why should men be refused the right to know the facts about something that can potentially effect their whole lifes?

will comment on this in more detail tommorrow

Wookie

evil_fizz

I'm inclined to think that women who decide not to tell their husbands do so for good reasons. Also, if a husband and wife cannot talk about the pregnancy, it seems that there is something so defective in the underlying relationship that a law madating she tell him won't fix it.

Wookie, based on your comments, it seems as though you favor partner notification in all cases, not just marriage. Am I reading you correctly?

Steve

Wookie,

As the above commentators said, in an ideal world, both parents would discuss and agree, but in the real world, I can't see any alternative which at the same time both safeguards women from the dangers of abusive husbands, of whom there are far too many (it occours to me that in some cultures to say you are having an abortion is very dangerous), but also recognises the different roles men and women play in pregnancy.

Was the legislation just for 'husbands', or did it include all fathers?

Steve

Scarbo

You mean anytime I use the word "hysterical" to describe a woman I'm being misogynistic? Oh please...

Anyway, of course husbands and wives should discuss their reproductive plans. Whether or not they want a child. How to prevent a pregnancy.

But what about the case where they both agree to have a child, the wife then becomes pregnant, and then she changes her mind? Her husband deserves to know, don't you think? For a wife to go and have an abortion without informing her husband in this case is perhaps indicative of communication (and other) problems in their relationship, but what to do? Tough luck, Chuck?

Even so, no matter how much I agree with Glenn that there must be some way to better accomodate men's wishes in the reproductive arena, I cannot ever support any law which would force a woman to have a child because her husband/boyfriend wants one.

But I think the law in question wasn't about that: it was about the husband's right to know. And, in the case I've outlined above, I totally believe the husband has the right to know. Should he have "veto power"? The question isn't about that. "Veto power" can only be granted by the wife to the husband within the confines of their own relationship. Will a husband possibly argue with, and possibly try to persuade, a wife who is about to abort a child he thought they had agreed to have and now finds she has changed her mind? Of course he will, and he should have the opportunity to do so. They are partners in marriage. Partners in marriage do not get to impose their will on each other, but they are each entitled to a hearing on every issue, this one included. For the wife to try to avoid that hearing, that discussion, just ain't right.

However -- I loath having to resort to a law to make it happen. There are WAY too many laws these days, and all we do is create more and more and more. If it were my vote, I would have struck it down. It is way too much governmental intrusion into personal lives. Alito should have struck it down. It is right that the PA Supreme Court did so.

evil_fizz

Husbands only. The statute (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3209) that was declared unconstitutional read:

(a) Spousal notice required.--In order to further the Commonwealth's interest in promoting the integrity of the marital relationship and to protect a spouse's interests in having children within marriage and in protecting the prenatal life of that spouse's child no physician shall perform an abortion on a married woman, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), unless he or she has received a signed statement, which need not be notarized, from the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed, that she has notified her spouse that she is about to undergo an abortion. The statement shall bear a notice that any false statement made therein is punishable by law.

b) Exceptions.--The statement certifying that the notice required by subsection (a) has been given need not be furnished where the woman provides the physician a signed statement certifying at least one of the following:

(1) Her spouse is not the father of the child.
(2) Her spouse, after diligent effort, could not be located.
(3) The pregnancy is a result of spousal sexual assault as described in section 3128 (relating to spousal sexual assault), which has been reported to a law enforcement agency having the requisite jurisdiction.
(4) The woman has reason to believe that the furnishing of notice to her spouse is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury upon her by her spouse or by another individual.

(Section C deals with medical emergencies.)

The emphasis is mine. I just wanted to highlight what the legislature's state rationale was.

Vacula

Given the exemptions, especially #4, I don't see how this law interferes with a woman's "sovereignty between conception and delivery."

If you believe a man needs to take responsibility for "for all of the consequences that may arise" including abortions, the father should, in any case that doesn't endager the mother, be notified. How is he supposed to fairly take responsibility for an action that he doesn't know about?

Hugo, if you truly believe 1 Corinthians 7:4, "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife," I don't see how you can support the idea of a wife being completely independent on this issue. How much more should the life of their child "belong" to both the husband and the wife?

You brought up this verse yourself recently, saying you really appreciate the vision of mutual submission it gives. Obviously pregnancy is a fairly one-sided experience, but I'd still like to see how you justify not applying the verse to this issue.

Hugo

Vacula, I do believe in 1 Corinthians 7:4. I would be devastated if my wife had an abortion and never told me. But there's a colossal distinction between what we ought to do and what the law ought to compel. Paul is binding for Christians -- but I see no reason why public policy ought to reflect our own sectarian beliefs, even my own passionately held ones.

Sassafras

Does it never occur to clowns like Glenn that maybe the husband isn't the father? That's aside from the whole issue that women should have sovereignty over their own bodies, a concept these misogynists obviously can't grasp.

Hugo, I don't understand how you can "really like" Glenn. My reaction to that is pretty much the same as if you said you "really, really like" David Duke. "He's really a good guy, you know, if you just get past all that 'blacks are sub-human' stuff!"

Ron O.

If a woman agrees to get pregnant with her husband, then changes her mind, I think it's reasonable to assume she has a good reason. I don't need to know what that resoan is & I don't think anyone else does either.

Hugo

Sassafras, I suppose I've always considered it possible that someone could hold morally objectionable beliefs and still be a wonderful person.

I was raised that way, which is a subject of a forthcoming post.

bmmg39

Sass: "Hugo, I don't understand how you can "really like" Glenn. My reaction to that is pretty much the same as if you said you "really, really like" David Duke. "He's really a good guy, you know, if you just get past all that 'blacks are sub-human' stuff!"

-- which would be a really good analogy, if Glenn Sacks and David Duke were in the same universe, philosophy-wise. Except that Glenn Sacks doesn't believe in the least that women are "sub-human," and that's where your comparison goes right down the toilet.

bg

Vacula

You say a man needs to take responsibility for "for all of the consequences that may arise" including abortions. How is he supposed to fairly take responsibility for an action that he doesn't know about?

Obviously there are exceptions - both abusive partners and husbands not being the father are included on this law. I understand the difference between personal faith and public policy, but you didn't address this inconsistency with that distinction.

Sassafras

"Except that Glenn Sacks doesn't believe in the least that women are "sub-human"

Of course he does. He would never say that, not in a million years, but regarding women as lesser beings is the very essence of patriarchy. Maleness is the norm, in this view; femaleness is "other" and inevitably inferior. And now you'll say that Glenn Sacks doesn't believe in patriarchy, but the entire MRA movement is the backlash of an outraged patriachy. That's abundantly clear to everyone except the MRAs themselves, who delude themselves into thinking that they just want a fair break for poor old discriminated-against men.

But you're probably an MRA yourself, so there's probably no point in even trying to explain this to you.

Anyway, my remark was directed at Hugo, whose writings I generally enjoy. I simply cannot, as a woman, imagine thinking that Glenn Sacks is a wonderful person. His hatred of women is so palpable it makes my skin crawl. Of course I've only read him; I suppose it's possible that he writes vicious stuff about "hysterical women" but in person he's all warm and cuddly. Sure.

Uzzah

As I've written before, men do have reproductive choice. We have the choice as to whether or not to have sex, and whether or not to use a reliable form of protection when having sex.…. If we aren't ready for fatherhood, or aren't willing to countenance our partner's decision to terminate a pregnancy, the time to act is before we have sex. I'll say it again and again and again: when a man ejaculates inside of a woman, he is taking responsibility for all of the consequences that may arise: abortion, fatherhood, eighteen years of child support. If he doesn't like the consequences, he is free to refuse vaginal intercourse with his wife or partner.

I agree, however women are also free also to refuse “vaginal intercourse” are they not? The moment they freely allow a man to “ejaculate” in them, are they not also responsible?

What’s so hard about asking women to take responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy just as you would have men do? Once the baby is born, she can walk off and never see the child again if that is what she wishes.

In fact, I’ll go further. The life of the child is absolutely more important than the wishes of men and women to avoid the inconvenience of that child. I realize the cognitive dissonance between your pro-life stance and women’s choice is tough on you. It is for me too. I just fall on the side of pro-life. Once a woman conceives (purposely or not), the life of the child is more important than the perceived sovereignty of a her body or the lifestyle choices of the man.

Hard as it is, you cannot be pro-life and pro-choice. Pick one.

Scarbo

If a woman agrees to get pregnant with her husband, then changes her mind, I think it's reasonable to assume she has a good reason. I don't need to know what that reason is & I don't think anyone else does either.

So, if you want a vasectomy, I suppose you think your wife doesn't need to know about that, and it's perfectly OK to get up from the breakfast table, say "Excuse me, hon, got an errand to run, be back in about 3 hours"?

One thing that dooms marriages is lack of communication. I would think both of the above would qualify for that.

Anthony

Does it never occur to clowns like Glenn that maybe the husband isn't the father?

Sassafras - did you read Evil Fizz's comment three above and 25 minutes before yours?

Mythago - the part of the Constitution on which the principle that men have a "reasonable interest" in their unborn children is the same as the part which creates a right to abortion - the emanations and penumbras. There is nothing in the Constitution which indicates that a law requiring such notification violates any explicit Constitutional prohibition or general principle. Just because a law may be a bad law does not make the law unconstitutional.

Given that list of exeptions to the notification requirement, I think that's rather a good law, myself. I'd not want to stay married to a woman who felt free to make such choices without discussing them with me.

evil_fizz

Anthony, I can't agree. Forcing communication in these kinds of circumstances is not something the law should be doing. (I feel similarly about parental notification laws, but spousal notification laws are about competent adults, not minor children.)

Also, I think that if one supports notifying the father but only in the context of marriage, you've created an equal protection problem, because then only married women are subjected to its terms (14th Amendment.)

Bad laws are unconstitutional if they're irrational. I think that the Pennsylvania legislature's reasons for enacting this statute are pretextual and that it should fail rational basis review, even if heightened scrutiny didn't apply, but that's just me.

westcoast2

Slightly off topic...

In reply to...
"Except that Glenn Sacks doesn't believe in the least that women are "sub-human"

Sassafras wrote...
Of course he does
This seems to be pure speculation and mind reading.

Sassafras continues...
He would never say that, not in a million years
This re-enforces the mind reading aspect.

Sassafras notes...
he writes vicious stuff about "hysterical women"
A slight misinterpretation perhaps? He actually said 'hysterical claims'.

If some evidence is presented of Glenn's views then at least there is some basis for the remarks, otherwise a withdrawal of the comments would seem to be in order.

If people mind read others and project views they may or may not hold, communication becomes slightly difficult.

On topic.
Hugo wrote...
I'll say it again and again and again: when a man ejaculates inside of a woman, he is taking responsibility for all of the consequences that may arise: abortion, fatherhood, eighteen years of child support. If he doesn't like the consequences, he is free to refuse vaginal intercourse with his wife or partner.

I agree with Uzzah. A little more explicitly, have you ever suggested this...

'when a woman allows a man to ejaculate inside her, she is taking responsibility for all of the consequences that may arise: abortion, motherhood, eighteen years of child support. If she doesn't like the consequences, she is free to refuse vaginal intercourse with her hsuband or partner'

Gonzman

Gee, Hugo, I notice that your "foes" seem to accept you and Glenn being buddies, while your "friends" are all kinds of opposed to it.

Hm.

stanton

Sassafras, you say that "of course" Glenn Sacks believes that women are subhuman, but admit that he would never say such a thing. You have no evidence, in other words, from anything that he has said. Do you have any other evidence that he believes such a thing? Is your disagreement with him on this (or any other) issue sufficient evidence for you? I find it troubling how often outraged feminist declare, with great confidence, what is in the minds and hearts of persons who challenge their thinking. It is quite common among them. Even Hugo succumbs at times, and I believe him to be a man of integrity. There must be something in the mindset of a group which believes so strongly that they are correct and know what's best for others that induces such things.

I suggest to you, Sassafras, that you reconsider the evidence for your conclusion. Assertions and generalities are not reliable guides to understanding the complexities of individual human beings. Hugo has met Glenn Sacks, and Hugo has concluded that Glenn is a man worthy of being called a friend. Is that not REAL evidence as to the character of the man?

bmmg39

"Gee, Hugo, I notice that your 'foes' seem to accept you and Glenn being buddies, while your 'friends' are all kinds of opposed to it."

I really don't want to think of myself as Hugo's "foe." If our views on certain subjects are disparate, fine, but my view of him is similar to his view of Mr. Sacks: we agree in some places and disagree in others.

bg

Steve

Thanks Fizz,

I like that they've put the clauses in, but still shy away from making a woman declare, for example that she was sexually assulted, or that her husband may beat her for it. I can see the positive of that coming out, but also the scared women, who may not be able to bring themselves to do that.

Given that abortion is legal, and this isn't that discussion (though it does seem a bit like simply an attempt to make it harder), I would rather avoid putting someone in that position, on fear of legal punishment, and would rather not leggally mandate the ocnversation I think everyone should have.

Having said that,l I'm not american, and I only know what I've read here. Master of uninformed comment.

Steve :-)

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