Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Taliban is Alive and Well in Ohio

From Common Dreams

Well, this is really weird. I, for one, believe that fathers should have some sort of say in whether a woman gets an abortion or not, even if it has no power beyond an idea logged in some karmic court. I mean, ideally everyone could just talk about the matter and sort things out... but we all know how well that works.

Giving the father sole veto power seems just a touch patriarchal and as one-sided as allowing solely the mother to make the decision. But it is her body after all. And personally I'm tired of The Father being the head of household and supreme familial dictator (rarely benevolent). Maybe some form of arbitration (Anyone want that job?)? If a father wants to accept sole responsibility for the child's well-being and agrees to support the pregnant mother at least until birth if not until the child is finished nursing then why should the mother be allowed to make the decision by herself? Indeed, it is her body and don't get me wrong, I am 100% pro-choice, having experienced abortion from the male end of the proverbial stick no less than three times myself and grateful for it every time. But we talked about it, twice before, once after (that one felt a bit different)... it's just such a murky subject... Let whichever being you call God be the judge, I suppose.

Who am I to tell any woman what to do with her body? But, then again, who are they to abort a life that doesn't just belong to them without first checking with the father of the unborn child? I'm fine with consensual abortions and abortions where the father is not present and thusly not asked. But when the father is present and wants the child and the women denies him that by aborting the child? Not so down... Thanks to Fern for pointing this one out. Damn. Makes me queasy too. I definitely don't think there should be legal repercussions involved. This stinks of a right-wing plot if you ask me. No one else can come up with such gaping plot holes.

Wow. I just changed my own mind ninety-seven times.

Check out the comments section, as the best ideas are down there, not in the article.

Several Ohio state representatives who normally take an anti-abortion stance are now pushing pro-choice legislation - sort of.

Led by Rep. John Adams, a group of state legislators have submitted a bill that would give fathers of unborn children a final say in whether or not an abortion can take place.

It’s a measure that, supporters say, would finally give fathers a choice. 0802 06

“This is important because there are always two parents and fathers should have a say in the birth or the destruction of that child,” said Adams, a Republican from Sidney. “I didn’t bring it up to draw attention to myself or to be controversial. In most cases, when a child is born the father has financial responsibility for that child, so he should have a say.”

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.

“I’m really pleased that this has been proposed for one reason - it draws attention to the fact that many men are concerned and care for their unborn children,” said Denise Mackura, the director of the Ohio Right to Life Society. “You have no idea how many men call telling me about their girlfriends who plan to abort, asking what they can do to help her. They do want to help and they should have a voice.”

With the proposal, men would be guaranteed that voice under penalty of law. First time violators would by tried for abortion fraud, a first degree misdemeanor. The same would be the case for men who falsely claim to be fathers and for medical workers who knowingly perform an abortion without paternal consent.

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

As is the case whenever abortion is the topic, sharp opposition has come from members of the House, along with multiple activist groups. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Activist League and the Ohio Right to Life Society have both spoken out against the legislation.

“This extreme bill shows just how far some of our state legislators are willing to go to rally a far-right base that is frustrated with the pro-choice gains made in the last election,” said NARAL Pro-choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland. “It is completely out of touch with Ohio’s mainstream values. This measure is a clear attack on a woman’s freedom and privacy.”

The proposal came less than two weeks after Rep. Tom Brinkman proposed legislation that would ban all abortions in Ohio. Brinkman, a Republican from Cincinnati, was one of eight representatives to co-sponsor Adams’ bill.

With the recent liberal swing in Ohio state government, neither bill is likely to come to fruition. However, Adams’ less extreme proposal has an outside chance of becoming law - a law that would have a major impact in Portage County and surrounding areas.

Portage has been among the leading Ohio counties in abortion-to-birth ratios since abortion was legalized in 1973. Since 1996, about 20 percent of Portage County pregnancies have been aborted - the seventh highest percentage in the state according to information from the Ohio Department of Health. The total comes to more than 4,300 abortions in 10 years.

Cuyahoga County has the highest abortion percentage with more than 30 percent of its residents’ pregnancies being terminated. Summit County is also near the top of the list with a 21 percent termination rate.

Mackura doesn’t think those numbers are likely to change anytime soon, though. Precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court indicates that, even if Adams’ bill passed, it would likely be ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

“Simply taking a look at this as a possibility is a step in the right direction,” Mackura said. “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.

“Currently, even in a marriage situation, a man has no right to even be informed of an abortion. But if a woman doesn’t have an abortion, men sure have a lot of responsibility then. It’s really not fair.”


Anonymous said...

Okay. I really dislike it when people use titles or jobs to "validate" their comments or beliefs, but I need to point out 2 "roles" I have played in my life. One, I have worked in an abortion clinic. Two, I have worked for many years as an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse.
That said, let me comment on role #1. I worked in a clinic, albeit for a short time. I do not think of myself AT ALL as an expert on the topic of abortion. Basically, the experience left me with some overwhelming emotions however. As a feminist, and anarchist, i could only be pro-choice. However, I was left with a very very bad taste in my mouth regarind the "abortion industry." I am compeletely pro-choice, and have had an abortion myself. It is however, the saddest thing i have ever done. Working at the clinic was overwhelmingly sad- not just because of the nature of what is happening, and the myriad of sad reasons why it is happening, but also becuase of the callousness of the staff and the "pro-choicers" I worked with treating abortion as an industry and SOLEY an issue of women's rights and feminism... and not a complex, heavy issue that causes upheaval and hardship in peoples already hard lives.
i say all of this to say that while i am pro-choice, i am also deeply saddened by abortion being a reality in so many of our lives. not as a judgement call, but as a deep calamity of humanity. thus, i am keenly sensative to all the emotions of all the parents out there.
but in role #2- working with survivors of domestic abuse for so, so long as i have- i have to say, no, no no, this is a womans right to choose. not only because it is her body, not only because it is her privacy, but first and foremost because MOST women facing this hard choice may be in danger from their relationships. i know this is hard to wrap our brains around, about how absolutely devastating and rampent domestic abuse is, but let me site all the statistics that we probably already know. 1 in 4 women will be abused by a partner in their lives. More than half of all divorces in the US cite dometic abuse as the reason for the seperation. the leading cause of injury to pregnant women is domestic abuse. domestic abuse dramtically increases in severity and frequency (and often starts) when a woman is pregnant.
what i would say is that we CAN NOT force women to tell their partners about an abortion, let alone make them tell their partners that they are even pregnant, because for many, many women it is a risk to their own safety (not to mention that of the unborn child) to do so.
to a lot of people this may sound like a rare circumstances, but in the 6.5 years that i have worked as a counselor, i have seen over 20,000 women in the county where i work. that is just me, not even including my co-worker who has her own case load. our numbers show that nearly 65% of those women have children, 52% with their abuser. Think then of how many of these women I work with would need to consider abortion if they got pregnant... Thats a lot of women- and children- to put in serious danger if we make them go to mediation with their partners.

Anonymous said...

i think what needs to be clarified here, with your opinions pirate papa, is what sort of relationship your frustration is stemming from. if it's a supportive, loving, consensual, and communicative relationship then yes, i understand where you are coming from.

on the other hand, the anonymous poster makes the relevant point that not all relationships are so peechy keen and some acts of abortion are kept from the father for reasons of safety to both the mother and potential child.

both points are valid in a certain context. i would hope an agreement exists that it shouldn't be any of the state's business to decide in either setup.


Anonymous said...

If the guy wants to have any say in the matter, then he ought to get it IN WRITING *BEFORE* he has sex with the woman. No contract, no say in abortion decision.

Anonymous said...

ahhh, what's this about "if he agrees to support the mother until birth or until she's done nursing" line about?

WHAT like the kid's gonna be able to support itself after that point?

Or that from post-nursing on Dad's not responsible??


Anonymous said...

I was thinking about your musings, and I thank you for your openness and honesty on this rather raw subject. I noticed you said you've experienced abortion 3 times (with you as the "seed" each time), wow, that's a lot...and it makes me think about how totally "judged" a woman would be if she publicly said she had three abortions, you know...? ...and while I think judgment of that sort is horrible, I guess I'll just digress and say it makes me think that we have bigger fish to fry than "decision input"...I feel like the real issue here is decent birth control for all of us... bless you, thanks for reminding us that "men have [a huge role in] abortions too"--regardless of whether or not they had decision-input! Wow. Thanks...

Anonymous said...

I think if you really understood and believed that it's her body, you wouldn't find this murky at all. It's not "it's her body plus." Her body. Period.