By: Jeffery M. Leving
Legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives (House Bill 252) requires written consent from the father of an unborn child in order to perform an abortion. The bill will put to test the “it’s my body, it’s my right” notion of pro-choice activists by adding the rights of the father of the unborn child into the equation. Ideally, the decision of abortion should be a consensus between both parents, with both parties being involved in any decisions regarding the child.
This is a significant legal and social issue where parental rights are heavily unbalanced due to the fact that a father plays no role in a matter as critical as his unborn child’s life. If a woman decides to keep her child, the father is required to pay child support regardless of whether he wanted to keep the child or not, or face future jail time. A father currently has no say. Alternatively he cannot opt-out of parenthood, but a woman can: She can do so by abortion.
Under the Ohio Bill, a woman must have written consent from the father; if a woman is claiming rape, she must file a police report, provide other court documents or an official complaint of the incident. If the woman chooses to undergo an abortion in this case, the physician must have “reasonable cause” to believe the woman’s claim of rape and thus, perform an abortion. In cases where the father may be unknown, a list of all potential fathers must be submitted to a physician. They will all be contacted and summoned to a paternity test. If the father is not found, no abortion can be performed. The bill would turn abortion without a father’s permission or naming a “false biological father” into a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum $1,000 fine. A second occasion of providing false information would be considered a fifth degree felony.
“When the fetus is viable, no person shall perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman without the written informed consent of the father of the fetus,” the bill text reads.
State Representative John Adams says that the bill was not written to cause controversy. He says that it is important that both parties who created the unborn child have a say in whether or not the pregnancy is terminated. “Since the father will have the responsibility of child support, he should have rights regarding the birth or destruction of the fetus,” according to veteran matrimonial attorney Anthony D’Agostino (http://dadsrights.com).
Recently, an instance regarding an alleged lack of father notification in regards to an abortion has commanded national attention. In New Mexico, a man lashed out at his ex-girlfriend by means of an anti-abortion billboard after the ex-girlfriend had allegedly undergone an abortion procedure without any notification to the purported father. The billboard depicts a 35-year-old Greg Fultz holding the outline of an infant with text that reads, “This Would Have Been a Picture of My 2-Month Old Baby If the Mother Had Decided Not To Kill Our Child!” The case seems more about the ex-girlfriend’s privacy than about father’s rights.
Regarding the paternal veto or override of an abortion, that is a decision which should be eventually decided in Ohio. This important decision can set legislative precedent for every other state in our nation.