Father’s Rights in Abortion

The abortion issue is extremely controversial, dividing pro-life and pro-choice factions.  A woman’s right to choose is at odds with the right of the fetus to live.  Perhaps lost in the debate are the rights of the father.

 Current Abortion Laws

 Before Roe vs Wade in 1973, the majority of states in the United States had laws which made any abortion illegal.  Currently, six states have laws which make abortion illegal within the first and second trimesters, but the laws, called “trigger laws,” would only take effect and be enforced after Roe is overturned by the US Supreme Court.  Three other states have laws which are intended to make abortions a criminal act.[2]

 Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Utah, and Virginia are the states which have trigger laws for any abortion. Some states have trigger laws for late-term abortions only.  Many states did not repeal the laws on the books which criminalized abortion before Roe and if Roe were reversed, the laws would again be in force. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada and Washington are some of the states which have laws to maintain the legality of abortion if Roe is overturned.[2]

 In most of Europe, abortion is legal only up to twelve weeks.  In France, after the first twelve weeks, abortion is illegal unless the fetus is severely deformed or the woman’s health is directly at risk.  In Sweden abortion is legal up to 18 weeks, in Netherlands up to 21 weeks and in Great Britain up to 24 weeks.  In Canada there are no laws regulating abortion. Like the United States, in Australia, each state has its own abortion laws with the majority allowing the procedure.

 Laws for Rights of the Father

 In the case of Roe vs Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States constitution.  However, that right only addressed the woman’s right to an abortion and did not address the father’s rights.  According to the law, the decision to have an abortion or not is solely placed on the mother.

 While the laws in the United States do not require the mother to have the consent of the father; in some countries that is not the case.  Countries including Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Malawi, Morocco, Nicaragua, Syria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates have laws which require that an abortion first be authorized by the woman's husband.  In China, there is a law intending to grant sexual equality regarding childbearing and contraception decisions.  The law states a woman has no overriding priority over her spouse in the decision to have a child.

 Advocacy for the Rights of the Father

 The father’s rights to be included in the decision making process of an abortion is a controversial issue.  Advocates for father’s rights argue it is an example of sexual discrimination to value the mother’s rights more than the father’s.  According to many members of the men’s rights movement, a man is put into the position of being legally deprived of becoming a parent; or being forced into becoming one against his will. 

 Another caveat in the debate is the father’s responsibility for a child not aborted.  Some leaders point out a man is responsible for child support even if he does not want the child. However, if he wants the child and the mother does not, he has no say in whether or not she has the child aborted.  Advocates question right versus responsibility. According to author, speaker and father’s rights advocate, Armin Brott, "A woman can legally deprive a man of his right to become a parent or force him to become one against his will."

 Those who object to the father having direct involvement in the decision making process of whether or not a woman has an abortion cite it is the woman who carries the unborn child and therefore it should be her decision.  In a Gallop poll in 2002, 38% of the population in the United States opposed requiring the husband’s consent for an abortion.  In 2003, only 26% were opposed to notification to the husband.  In the survey, 79% of males and 67% of females polled, responded in favor of notifying the husband. [1]

 There is no easy answer to this debate. Women will continue to fight for their rights to determine what to do with their bodies; and men will continue to fight for their rights as father to their unborn children. Pro life advocates make excellent arguments as do those in the pro choice camp.  Each side is passionate in their beliefs and in reality there are few winners in the debate.  


 The copyright of the article “Rights of the Father in an Abortion” is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.