Whenever someone asks me “what about the father’s rights?” I become really frustrated. What rights? The right to tell a woman she must birth a baby? The right to refuse to allow a woman to get an abortion or set a baby up for adoption? I understand that some may fear that women will get an abortion and hide it from their partner however this is not why the vast majority of abortions happen. Even if this was a common occurrence, I cannot negotiate how abused women, women with oppressively religious husbands, minors, rape survivors, sex workers, and other women in similar circumstances would suffer under policies that require the fathers’ signatures.
For many women, a father’s signature would certainly serve as an undue burden, stated as illegal under the Roe decision of 1973. A sex worker or rape survivor may never know the identity of the father and may be uncomfortable revealing such a status for understandable legal or personal reasons. Even for someone in a polyamorous or swinger relationship, admitting that she doesn’t know the father’s identity could lead to slut shaming.
Even though people who support abortion restrictions always say things like “if the rape is reported everything will be fine” might have good intentions, they overlook the consequences of such actions. Women who do not report rapes do so for very serious reasons: their family member is the rapist and they have legitimate fear of being believed, they fear retaliation by their rapist in school or down the hallway from their apartment, it is their husband and their whole family loves him.
People say they will believe any woman, but a quick scroll down a news feed will tell you that is not the case. Look at what is happening in Steubenville right now. Even when reporting problems like rape or abuse, they cannot make it through the bogged down, bureaucratic court system quickly enough to obtain a safe and legal abortion in their state. Pregnancy, and inherently abortion, is time sensitive. This time sensitivity could also bring up issues for women whose partners are in the service and went abroad before either person involved knew she was pregnant, or for separated couples. What if a woman planned to carry the pregnancy to term, but then her husband died and she now decides she needs an abortion because of lack of financial means to support a child?
To determine how each of these scenarios would play out is too much stress on an already difficult system to maneuver. It also is oppressive to many women, and forces them to admit parts of their sex lives that are no one’s business but their own. Forcing a woman to become pregnant is a crime—why isn’t essentially forcing a woman to give birth?