By Jeffery M. Leving
In reading President Bush’s recent message to the anti-abortion rally about protecting “the lives of innocent children waiting to be born,” I was struck by the lack of mention of the father’s complete inability to protect his own unborn child. In fact, no one seems to acknowledge a father’s rights to have a say in whether his child gets to live.
It’s been 30 years since the Supreme Court made its decision in Roe vs. Wade. Despite the passage of that time, the issue remains a fiercely contested debate, with each camp remaining adamant in it attempt to out shout the other. Yet in these three decades, one voice continues to be unheard — that of the fathers of unborn children.
As a family law attorney, I work daily with anguished fathers who have little or no say in the lives of their children. The agony of these men becomes unimaginable when the child is not yet born and they have no way of protecting the life they helped to create.
With the anniversary of such a significant ruling upon us, a new Congress and debates raging in legislatures across the country, activities on both sides see now as the time that will make or break Roe. But now is also a chance to balance the rights of the father with those of the mother, putting the focus on the child, and creating the most equitable law possible.
Depriving fathers of a meaningful voice will not solve the problem for anyone. This course would only deny fathers equal protection and due process. Moreover, many children will be far beyond the protective reach of their fathers who want to be included in such a pivotal decision.
Under the Supreme Court rulings made over the course of these three decades, fathers were denied any voice in the issue, whether they were married to the mother or not.
The government has turned the issue of reproductive rights back to the states, and we, as concerned Americans in every state, should use this ruling as the basis to create the fairest and most realistic law possible. To do this, every voice must be heard, even that of fathers.