An Oklahoma bill is stirring up national controversy and raising awareness about fathers’ inability to legally protect their unborn children from abortion.
The bill, Oklahoma House Bill 1441, sponsored by state Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Atoka, would prohibit unborn babies from being aborted without the father’s consent except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
A state House committee approved the bill on Tuesday in a 5-2 vote, and sent it to the full Oklahoma House for a vote, the Associated Press reports.
Humphrey said fathers should have a say about the life of their unborn child.
“I understand that [women] feel like that is their body,” he said. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a host. And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that, then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant. … After you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”
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Abortion activists are outraged, and many national liberal and pro-abortion news outlets have covered the bill.
“Oklahoma is legislating reproductive coercion when it should be outlawing it and protecting teens and women,” Mercedes Sanchez, of the abortion business Cedar River Clinics, told Self Magazine earlier this month. “For teens experiencing child abuse and women experiencing domestic violence, this law will empower their abusers to use the courts as a weapon to further control and terrorize them.”
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes spokesperson Tamya Cox “guaranteed” the public that her abortion group will challenge the measure if it becomes law, Tulsa World reports.
Even though the tone largely has been negative, the wide-spread publicity is drawing attention to the lack of legal rights that fathers have in decisions about their unborn babies’ lives.
Pro-lifers think fathers deserve the chance to protect their unborn child’s life; and LifeNews and other pro-life groups occasionally hear from heartbroken fathers who wanted to save their unborn babies from abortion but had no legal right to do so.
Various laws through the years requiring that a father be notified or given a say in an abortion decision have been struck down by the courts. If passed, the Oklahoma bill likely will encounter constitutional roadblocks.
Not long after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled in the Planned Parenthood v. Danforth case that spousal consent statutes are unconstitutional if the statutes allow the husband to unilaterally prohibit the abortion in the first trimester. In a subsequent case, Coe v. Gerstein, the high court extended that decision to a spousal consent law regardless of the stage of the woman’s pregnancy.
Then, in the 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law requiring that a married woman notify her husband of her plans to have an abortion prior to it taking place.