We’ve long been following the WTF-ery of the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenantal Nondiscrimination Act,” which will criminalize abortions based on race or gender of the fetus. The anti-abortion supporter of the bill, Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican, insisted that America had to ban such abortions and threaten abortion providers with punishment for performing them, despite the fact sex- and gender-selective abortions are scarcely a problem in this country. And surely you noticed the nods to Anthony, a suffragette whom abortion opponents mistakenly paint as anti-abortion, and Douglass, a civil rights activist, as coded messages to conservative women and blacks?
That bill, which is now just called PreNDA, passed out of a committee last week and is headed to the House. But an eagle-eyed Jezebel reader has noticed in the fine print of the bill wording that would allow men and/or the woman’s parents to stop her from having an abortion.
Here is the language of the bill:
`(2) CIVIL ACTION BY RELATIVES- The father of an unborn child who is the subject of an abortion performed or attempted in violation of subsection (a), or a maternal grandparent of the unborn child if the pregnant woman is an unemancipated minor, may in a civil action against any person who engaged in the violation, obtain appropriate relief, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff’s criminal conduct or the plaintiff consented to the abortion. …
(B) DEFINITION- In this paragraph the term `qualified plaintiff’ means—
`(i) a woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted in violation of this section;
`(ii) any person who is the spouse or parent of a woman upon whom an abortion is performed in violation of this section; or
`(iii) the Attorney General.
Translation of the legal gobbleygook: the man who got the woman pregnant (“the father”), or the woman’s mother or father (“maternal grandparent”) if she is a minor, can force the woman not to go forward with her abortion. PreNDA is literally taking a woman’s right to make a medical decision about her own body out of her own hands and placing it the hands of a man.
As blogger Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel notes, this particular language sounds as if it were written to directly appease so-called “men’s rights activists,” who frequently cite a woman’s ability to control her own reproduction as an oppression of the menz. Yet instead of working it out on a case-by-case basis in individual relationships — say, perhaps, a discussion like “Sweetie, what would we do if I accidentally got pregnant?” — these MRAs and, by extension, our government, now see fit to mandate forcing a woman to stay pregnant when she doesn’t want to be. It is basically forcing a woman to become a breed sow, if that’s what the man who knocked her up wants her to be.
Bills like this are simply about control and paternalism, i.e. the idea that someone other than the woman herself needs to “take care of her.” But women are not children. We should not be having anyone make medical decisions for us, period. Earth to the men who would try to force their partner into a pregnancy: If a woman does not want to go through nine months of pregnancy and 36 hours of labor to bring a child into the world, there is probably a good reason.
Sadly, I would be more appalled by this PreNDA bill if there wasn’t already so much “parental notification” and “parental consent” legislation in place around the country that requires parents to make a decision about whether their teenage daughter can have an abortion. As the Guttmacher Institute has noted [PDF], 37 states currently require some kind of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. (Proponents of such bills say things like “No one is going to perform a surgery on my daughter without my permission!” whilst being oblivious to the fact that if your daughter wanted your help and/or decision-making capabilities, she would have told you herself.) If “parental consent” and “parental notification” laws are a slippery slope to paternalistic and controlling attitudes towards all women, well, PreNDA is what is at the bottom of that slope.
UPDATE, 5:40p.m.: The title of this post originally read “Arizona’s Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” Would Allow Men, Parents To Stop Abortions” — it should have read “Arizona Pol’s.” Sorry for any confusion.
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