Remember Billboard Douche? If you don’t, read my post about him. Rehashing the details makes me go all incoherent and angry. Anyway, I’ve been keeping one eye on him to see what the outcome of this case is. I really want the billboard taken down on the grounds that he shared private – and possibly erroneous – medical information about another person in a way that was potentially harmful to her. So far there’s been no movement but this Douche keeps talking about some grassroots effort that he wants to spearhead having to do with the rights of father’s to participate in medical decisions regarding pregnancy.
Now, he’s not the first guy to think up this little nugget of paternalistic crap. The Pennsylvania State Legislature attempted to codify a spousal notification law regarding abortion and the Supreme Court struck it down. So it’s unconstitutional on its face and we should be able to stop having the conversation. However, we can’t stop because this is actually a big, scary, ugly topic and it’s important to think about it because the simplistic nature of the original thought belies the nest of vipers beneath.
Here’s the deal: some men think that they should be able to say yea or nay on their partner’s choice to get an abortion. Sounds straightforward. Until you rephrase it: some men wish to be allowed to compel their partner to carry a pregnancy to term against her will. Ugly, no? But that’s the heart of the matter. There are men who oppose abortion and see nothing wrong with the idea of forcing a woman to stay pregnant whether she wants to be or not. This is not an exaggeration, I promise. Just look at the conscience clauses states have put into place that allow pharmacists or physicians to deny women regular contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion-inducing medications. These people exist and they do not care about the circumstances of the woman’s situation: they will force her to stay pregnant.
Another troubling facet about the cry for so-called fathers rights is the very real slippery slope of giving one partner dominion over the other’s reproductive life: if a man can prevent his partner from obtaining an abortion, he could theoretically also force her to have one. Or he could prevent her from seeking pre-natal care if he did not approve of the pregnancy. Possibly, he could force her to be sterilized or use some type of contraception against her will.* Or we could turn the tables and look at how a man could be affected by this new legal framework. Perhaps a woman could compel her husband to have a vasectomy if she no longer wished to bear his children but was unwilling to discontinue sexual relations. Or if she did wish to bear his children but he was reluctant, she could compel him to produce semen for the purpose, and possibly also pay for fertilization if he was unwilling to go about it the old-fashioned way.
And if one individual can control the health care options of their partner related to reproduction, what else could they control? Could man force his wife to get a boob job? Could a woman force her man to take steroids? It’s a slippery, slippery slope and there’s a reason so-called fathers rights are not already established: they should not be, despite the cries of unfairness from some corners of the anti-choice movement.
Is the current model wherein women have final say about the outcome a pregnancy fair to men? It is not. But reproduction is not fair. Biology dictates that only women can bear young. No law can change that. The balance of power cannot be evened out. Men who howl at the unfairness of it are shouting into the rain and should be roundly ignored. The best remedy to inequality of human reproduction is the eliminate all other inequalities between men and women. The power in relationships should be otherwise equal and decisions about reproduction should be made with two cool (fully-clothed) heads in control, long before the act of potential procreation occurs. Both parties should be forthright about their hopes for the relationship, their feelings about the possibility of conception, the outcome of a potential pregnancy, and what steps they each plan to take to prevent or ensure a pregnancy. Unless all of that subject matter has been covered, clothes should stay on. No one should fear walking away from the negotiating table if terms can’t be reached and both people should respect the other no matter what.
And have I ever mentioned that all people should know about and have good access to reproductive health care? I have? Oh good. I wouldn’t ever want to forget to say that reproductive health care and education are vitally important on a macro-social scale.
Some would throw in the notion of fetal personhood and suggest that, in the case of a woman wishing to abort, a man has a right to protect his progeny but since fetuses do not have legal standing in most cases, that argument is without value. Abortion, within defined limits, is legal. Preventing a woman from seeking legal medical treatment should not be. Period. The day abortion ceases to be legal is the day I will say women may no longer seek abortions. Until then, I just can’t fathom any situation in which another person’s judgement can be substituted for a mentally competent woman’s own judgement.
*Or he could keep his dick in his pants and avoid impregnating anyone but that would just be too simple, wouldn’t it?
Amazing. Absolutely amazing. I heart you. I worship you. MARRY ME (and I won’t leave the toilet clogged to go to a stupid sport thing!)!
Awesome post. It’s easy to look at this argument very superficially and think that men should have a right to say yea or nay when it comes to pregnancy, but as soon as you look a little deeper there is no basis for the argument.
I liked your points, and really enjoyed reading. 🙂 It’s not something I’d really thought about much.
This post really looked at this situation and brought up alot of valid points about how far should a man exert his chest pounding rights on a woman’s choice by bring up the fact of what if a woman wanted to have another child and her partner did not or not want a child and he did. Very good arguements.
Now I am waiting for you to comment about the craziness in San Francisco and banning circumcision (even if you are jewish and it has been practiced for 3000 yrs.)
Thank you for your brilliant wisdom.We heart you:-)
I so love you and your words of wisdom. My thing is this, if a man wants a say in whether or not a woman has an abortion, then he needs to be willing to have something very uncomfortable shoved into his pee hole and willing to have it stay there for 9 plus months, affecting every aspect of his life. Once scientists have found a way to make men gain weight and be uncomfortable for 9 months along with their partner, then I will gladly welcome a man’s opinion on abortion. Until then, a male opinion on the subject just. doesn’t. matter.
Sorry. It’s true.
Love this. You are brilliant.
Thanks for so eloquently raising the nuts and bolts (no pun intended) of this truly scary issue. Have you tried getting it published at all. (Even sending it to planned parenthood, NOW, etc) so they could also post and raise further awareness. You cut right to the heart of the matter and if you aren’t going to put it on a billboard, I think you should try to get it out there. Or, with you permission, I will. Very well expressed and appreciated!
I love your footnote.
It says a LOT so simply and eloquently.
I also loved the billboard “Against abortion? Stop fucking” :OD
This guy lives in my state, so EMBARRASSING! The news carried a story a week or so ago about the lady bringing a lawsuit against him for divulging private information and possibly for defamation. She apparently miscarried. It also demands that the billboard be brought down. Haven’t heard much more. A judgement in her favor seems obvious but…
Thanks for your words. Found you through Pregnant Chicken and will be reading you regularly.
@Pearl above: If you “haven’t heard much more” about the Billboard douchebag, you should read my article with the real facts: http://bit.ly/kIEuRC . Part 2 is coming sometime soon, but the first article here is the background to the “Abortion Billboard” case/has to do with case specifics that the mass media overlooked/didn’t bother to research before casting Fultz as some kind of champion for father’s rights.
Great post. You have a lot of valid points and interesting arguments.
1 question that I would ask is that how come if the father doesn’t want the child, the woman can compel him to pay for the child through child support for the following 18 years? Doesn’t that also fall under your points about 1 party having control in those situations?
In regards to the guy with the billboard, what an embarrasment, how does he live with himself.
Your third last paragraph (not including the *comment at the end) =
Yes I’m late to the party but I just found this blog!
To techiegeek: re: forcing a person to pay child support, see this paragraph ie. before clothes come off at all; discuss all of the what ifs? then you know what you’re in for!
Personally I would not get an abortion (even when offered to be taken by my Mom at 15; I have a beautiful. kind adult child now),
I’m not ‘a church person’ but I fully support the right of other women to make their own decisions. I have friends who have had abortions who are now amazing parents.
For example, my hubby would like another child. I have 3 (2 with him). I am almost 40, our youngest is 9. I just can’t agree at this piont in my life, so my decision wins. Hubby doesn’t quite think it’s fair but he gets why I don’t want to.
HOWEVER, accidents happen and if I became pregnant, I would not abort. and that is MY decision the same as if another woman decided that at 40 she absolutely could not carry a pregnancy, that is HER decision.