Should A Woman Ever Need A Man's OK To Get An Abortion?

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And what does that mean for victims of domestic abuse and rape? (Photo by Corbis) 

The News: 

Rick Brattin, a Republican state representative in Missouri, has drafted a bill that would make it illegal for a woman to get an abortion without the consent of the embryo or fetus’s biological father. The bill does offer an exception around cases of rape or incest, but Brattin explained to Mother Jones magazine yesterday that “Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it. So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.”

Brattin goes on to comment that if a rape is “legitimate,” a woman would “make a police report, just as if you were robbed. That’s common sense…you have to take steps to show that you were raped…And I’d think you’d be able to prove that.” 

The state of Missouri only has one abortion clinic at this time, located in St. Louis. Brattin’s bill, if passed, would likely be challenged through the court system on the grounds of the 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which struck down a requirement that a woman must inform her husband if she has an abortion.

What The Lawmaker Says: 

Brattin says his own experiences getting a vasectomy are what inspired the proposed bill, which would perpetuate the stance held by some that life begins at conception. He tells Mother Jones, “Here I was getting a normal procedure that has nothing to do with another human being’s life, and I needed to get a signed form…But on ending a life, you don’t. I think that’s pretty twisted.”

There is no law, however, in Missouri forcing a patient to seek his partner’s consent before a vasectomy.  

Brattin also noted when questioned about abortion in cases where the woman is the victim of domestic violence, “What does that have to do with the child’s life? Just because it was an abusive relationship, does that mean the child should die?”

What The Other Side Says:

According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, of women polled in a national telephone poll, only 15.8% of rape victims ever filed an official report. Furthermore, the study found that older, married, white women with some high school education were statistically significantly more likely to report a rape than any other demographic. 

“The majority of women who indicate that they have been raped, based on answering questions about incidents that meet legal definitions of rape (e.g., being made to have unwanted sex due to physical force or threats of harm or when incapacitated due to substances or other factors), do not report the rape to police, says Heidi Resnick, a psychologist with the Medical University of South Carolina and the leading investigator at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center. ”This does not mean that the rapes are not rape incidents. Reasons that women do not report incidents to police are varied and include fear of negative consequences of reporting, fear of the assailant, and others.”

Furthermore, M’Evie Mead, the director of statewide organizing for Missouri’s Planned Parenthood office, tells Mother Jones, “This bill is insulting and a danger to women in abusive relationships. That’s very much our concern. But when it comes to abortion, Missouri legislators are always trying to outdo each other.”

"The Republican Party tried to make themselves palatable to female voters in 2014 — talking about over the counter birth control and equal pay. And to a large extent it worked,” Jess McIntosh, spokesperson for Emily’s List , an organization that fundraises and organizes for pro-choice candidates, tells Yahoo Health, “But now that they’re in power, this is the kind of anti-woman anti-family agenda they have always pushed. They know this kind of thinking is totally toxic to American women, which is why they tried so hard to hide it before Election Day."