Pregnancy, Abortion, and `Real Men'
Arthur B. Shostak. Arthur B. Shostak, a. sociologist at Drexel University and Abortion: Lessons, Losses, and Love," published ., The Christian Science Monitor
AFTER nearly two decades without legal standing, the male partner seeking some say over a fetus he helped father may finally get some. If and when the Supreme Court returns abortion lawmaking to the states, men may be granted unprecedented legal rights.
Roe v. Wade ruled that only a female and her physician had a right to resolve how a pregnancy would end. Since then a handful of distraught lovers, fiances, and husbands have sought injunctions to delay or prevent an abortion. Appellate courts and the high court itself contend these males lack standing, though some judges express sympathy.
Four male rights will soon be debated and require resolution. They encompass four controversies that males and females cannot begin discussing separately and together soon enough.
* Spousal prenotification, a component of the 1991 Pennsylvania law now before the court, raises the question of whether a wife's right to privacy outweighs her husband's right to advanced knowledge of an abortion. Backers of prenotice point to public opinion support among both genders. But opponents note that almost all wives already involve their spouse in the decision. Other wives fear bodily harm or mental abuse from their anti-abortion spouses, some of whom may not be the biological father.
* Spousal consent grants a husband a veto over his wife's desire to terminate her pregnancy. Proponents hail this as a way to protect the unborn, while opponents equate it with biological "slavery." They insist "compulsory pregnancy" would require medical imprisonment, and detect in it a hatred of women.
* Child support exemptions allow a male to escape court-ordered payments if he had urged an abortion and forsworn any role in the child's upbringing. Proponents insist no male should pay the cost of rearing a child whose birth he opposed. Others repeat the adage, "those who play should pay." They warn that allowing males a "free ride" will undermine their vigilance in contraception and unfairly shift all costs of child-rearing by indigent women to the taxpayer.
* Parity proposals, the least well known of post-Roe pros-pects, exposes a bias of courts against unwed males. Over and over again, the fact that a male is not married to the expectant mother has been cited with derision in dismissing a plea to enjoin a contested abortion. Proponents applaud this as consistent with the state's interest in rewarding couples who marry before they conceive. …