What You Should Know About Abortion and Fathers’ Rights
When discussing abortion, the topic often revolves around the rights of the woman and the unborn child. With that being said, it is important to also note that during family planning decisions that involve abortion, the father’s rights need to be considered as well. The father to an unborn child may be opposed to the mother’s decision to terminate the pregnancy, or on the flip side, he may not want to be a father and may oppose the mother’s decision to bring the pregnancy to term. Regardless of the case, it is not uncommon for the father’s rights to be considered secondary to the rights of the mother and the child.
Consent to Abortion
Should a male’s pregnant partner wish to seek an abortion, the male’s consent is not required by law. A woman may make the choice to terminate a pregnancy, even if the alleged father objects to the procedure. The reasoning behind this is twofold, based on the woman’s right to medical privacy and the fact of the female body being more directly affected by the pregnancy. During the Supreme Court Case of Planned Parenthood vs. Danforth, the court ruled that requiring a father’s consent to having an abortion was unconstitutional since a male’s refusal would essentially veto the woman’s right to choose.
Right to be Notified
While a male’s consent to having the abortion is not required, there have been questions about whether or not the alleged father has a right under law to be notified that an abortion is taking place. This issue was addressed in the Supreme Court case of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, in which the court decided that an alleged father does in fact not have a right to be notified of the abortion of his former sexual partner’s pregnancy. Even though many women discuss the possibility or decision of abortion with their partner or with the child’s alleged father, it is not required for them to do so under the law.
In cases where the alleged father wishes to keep the child and the mother wants to terminate the pregnancy, it is possible for the couple to come to a private agreement outside of the court room. Should a pregnant woman wish to terminate her pregnancy against the father’s wishes, an attorney has the ability to draft an agreement where the alleged father agrees to pay the medical costs and other expenses of the pregnancy and then obtain full custody of the child after it is born. In some cases, these agreements are enough to help sway the pregnant woman from abortion and take the pregnancy to term.