By: Erin Hollenkamp
In Ohio, a bill that leans slightly towards pro-choice is being pushed by several state representatives who normally take an anti-abortion stance. 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 to the equation.
The Ohio abortion bill would require consent from the father of the unborn baby before an abortion could be performed. Supporters of the bill say it is time to give fathers a voice and a choice on the subject of abortion.
State Representative John Adams says that the bill was not written to cause controversy. He says it is important that both parties who created the unborn child have a say in whether or not the pregnancy is terminated. He adds that since fathers will have the responsibility of child support, they should have rights regarding the "birth or destruction of the fetus".
But if this bill were to become a part of Ohio abortion law, what would happen in cases of pregnancy caused by rape and in instances which the mother does not know the identity of the father?
In instances which the pregnancy is a result of a rape, the woman would have to submit a police report in order to have an abortion performed.
If a woman claims that she has no idea who the father of her unborn child is, she would be forced to provide a list of names of potential fathers. Before the doctor could terminate the pregnancy, he would have to do paternity tests on the men in question to determine who fathered the child and then get his written permission before the abortion could be performed. Quite simply, if the father can not be found, there would be no chance that the woman could legally terminate her pregnancy.
Denise Mackura, the director of the Ohio Right to Life Society, is very pleased that this legislation has been proposed. She says it finally puts father's rights in the spotlight. She says that many men are concerned and care for their unborn children and that she receives many calls from men who are distraught that their girlfriends are considering abortions and want to know what they can do.
If the Ohio abortion bill becomes law, first time violators would be charged with abortion fraud, which would be a first-degree misdemeanor. Women who forge signatures of the fathers in order to obtain abortions, men who falsely claim to be the father of the unborn child in order to assist a woman in getting an abortion and doctors who perform abortions without the proper written consent of the father of the unborn baby would be subject to the penalties of the proposed Ohio abortion law.
As you would expect with any abortion legislation, there is heated opposition to the bill. Multiple organizations have spoken out against this Ohio abortion bill, including The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Activist League (NARAL).
NARAL pro-choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland said, "It is completely out of touch with Ohio's mainstream values. This measure is a clear attack on a woman's freedom and privacy." She calls the bill extreme and an attempt to rally the far-right crowd who are frustrated with pro-life gains made during the last election.
This Ohio abortion bill was proposed two weeks after legislation was proposed by Rep. Tom Brinkman to ban all abortion procedures in Ohio. Brinkman is a supporter of the new bill for father's rights.
There has recently been a liberal swing in Ohio state government, basically ensuring that neither an abortion ban or the father's rights bill will become law any time soon, although the father's rights bill has an outside chance of success. Supporters of the bill say that either way, it is great that the subject is being brought to the attention of the public and public awareness is a step in the right direction.
Currently in Ohio, a woman may have an abortion without the knowledge or consent of the father, even if she is married to him.