by Steven Ertelt
August 3, 2007
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — Ohio lawmakers are taking a different approach to the issue of abortion by proposing a bill that would prohibit abortions unless the father of the unborn child also provides his consent to it. The measure could draw attention to the lack of a voice fathers have, but it will likely encounter constitutional roadblocks.
Led by Republican Rep. John Adams, several state legislators have introduced the bill that they say isn’t intended to just make a point or be controversial.
"This is important because there are always two parents and fathers should have a say in the birth or the destruction of that child," Adams told the Record-Courier newspaper. "In most cases, when a child is born the father has financial responsibility for that child, so he should have a say."
Under the measure, women would not be able to have an abortion without written consent from the father.
In a case where the paternity of the baby is not established, the woman seeking the abortion would have to provide a list of potential fathers and the abortion practitioner would be required to do a paternity test and obtain permission from the father for the abortion.
Anyone who has or does an abortion without the father’s consent or anyone wrongfully giving permission for an abortion would be guilty of a first degree misdemeanor.
Denise Mackura, the head of Ohio Right to Life, told the newspaper the bill is a good idea because it highlights how fathers are left out of the abortion process.
"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," she said.
"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," she added.
However, the paternal rights bill would likely hit a constitutional roadblock if it became law.
The Supreme Court ruled in the Danforth case that spousal consent statutes are unconstitutional if the statutes allow the husband to unilaterally prohibit the abortion in the first trimester.
A subsequent case, Coe v. Gerstein, saw the high court extend that decision to a spousal consent law regardless of the stage of the woman’s pregnancy.
Then, in the Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey decision, a spousal notification provision, requiring a married woman to tell her husband she intends to have an abortion (but not needing his consent), did not survive the "undue burden" test, and it was struck down as being unconstitutional.
Mackura told the newspaper that she acknowledged the constitutional concerns but called the bill a "step in the right direction."
"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," she concluded.
Abortion advocates confirmed they would strongly oppose the bill and NARAL Pro-choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland told the newspaper it was "extreme" and motivated by election loses.