Wednesday, November 2

A simple signed permission slip

Since Bush nominated Sam Alito to the high court, there has been much talk of his views on abortion as seen through the prism of his dissent from a decision that struck down a law requiring women in Pennsylvania to get their husbands' permission before obtaining an abortion. I hear a lot of talk about the statute requiring "spousal notification," which implies that the woman is just obligated by law to tell her husband she's planning on aborting the pregnancy; that's a bunch of bunk. A woman, under that law, was required to get written permission from her husband before seeking an abortion, unless she couldn't find him, he wasn't the father, or he was the father and she feared violence from him. Here's the text of the statute:

a) Spousal notice required.--In order to further the Commonwealth's interest in promoting the integrity of the marital relationship and to protect a spouse's interests in having children within marriage and in protecting the prenatal life of that spouse's child no physician shall perform an abortion on a married woman, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), unless he or she has received a signed statement, which need not be notarized, from the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed, that she has notified her spouse that she is about to undergo an abortion. The statement shall bear a notice that any false statement made therein is punishable by law.

b) Exceptions.--The statement certifying that the notice required by subsection (a) has been given need not be furnished where the woman provides the physician a signed statement certifying at least one of the following:

(1) Her spouse is not the father of the child.
(2) Her spouse, after diligent effort, could not be located.
(3) The pregnancy is a result of spousal sexual assault as described in section 3128 (relating to spousal sexual assault), which has been reported to a law enforcement agency having the requisite jurisdiction.
(4) The woman has reason to believe that the furnishing of notice to her spouse is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury upon her by her spouse or by another individual.

(Section C deals with medical emergencies.)

I can see what the Pennsylvania legislature was trying to get at by giving men some input into the life of their unborn child. In an ideal world, all pregnancies would be planned, all babies would be wanted, no women would fear violence from their husbands, etc. In an ideal world, a woman would want to consult her husband on the matter of their unborn child. But we're not in a perfect world. And the government has absolutely no right to require that a woman get her husband's permission to undergo a medical procedure on her own body. I understand that the fetus contains his DNA, but, as Hugo said, "given the radically unequal nature of pregnancy, the law ought to do nothing to interfere with women's sovereignty between conception and delivery."

This is big-government judicial activism-type stuff. It puts the government, in all its lumbering, nosy glory, right into your bedroom and medical exam room. Why can't most conservatives recognize that that's what they are supposed to be fighting?

(Crossposted at The Southern Scholar.)

3 Comments:

Blogger Sam Chevre said...

no physician shall perform an abortion on a married woman... unless he or she has received a signed statement...from the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed, that she has notified her spouse that she is about to undergo an abortion.

I don't see anything require permission from the husband--only a statement by the wife that he's been notified. What am I missing?

(Came here from Tiny Cat Pants)

Thu Nov 03, 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

No, Sam, I'm missing something. Pronouns, mostly, which makes me look like an idiot. You're right --the statute doesn't explicitly require written permission from the husband. I misread that part to mean that the note must come from the husband.

However, I do stand by the assertion that -- explicit or not -- the intention here is to get women to clear their decisions with their husbands. It may not be written permission, but it's permission nonetheless. And if women don't get this implied permission and they lie about it and forge the required document, they can be punished by law. It's still a despicable notion.

Thu Nov 03, 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the only thing I see missing from this law; i'd like to add that the permission slip should be notarized to prevent the women from forging their husband's signature. otherwise, I'm with you. I think it's a great law!!!!

Sun Sep 28, 05:16:00 PM  

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