Thursday, May 26, 2011

Partner Consent Laws

I'm tired of hearing people complain that women shouldn't be allowed to "go behind their boyfriends' backs" and get abortions without telling them. I get it, men should have a say in the decision, and for the most part there is a conversation before a woman gets an abortion. That is, in healthy relationships.

The problem with partner consent laws is that they compel women to get the consent of their partners regardless of who they actually are - whether that partner is a long-term boyfriend, a one night stand she may not be able to contact, an abusive partner, or a rapist. There are plenty of cases where getting that consent is either impossible, causes emotional hardship, or puts the woman in physical danger.

Yes, you can argue that those women can go before a judge to get the requirement waved, but that takes time. Getting an abortion is a time sensitive issue, women generally only have a window of a couple months between finding out they're pregnant and the 12 week cutoff point. First a woman finds out she's pregnant, at which point she may be 2 weeks along, 4 weeks, maybe even 6 weeks. Then she has to see a doctor, which may mean waiting a few days, maybe more than a few depending on where she lives, and she has to take time off work and in rural areas she may need to travel hours by car and get a hotel room just for the clinic consultation. Then, once a doctor has confirmed she is pregnant and she's talked to a clinic about getting the procedure, she has to wait - most states, even the most liberal ones, have a waiting period of two days. Getting to a judge adds more time onto this, time she may not necessarily have. In fact, having to track down her partner and get his written consent for the procedure can be time consuming as well.

Besides, if she has to go before a judge, plenty of people will be concerned about women lying just to get around the system. Then she may have to prove to a doubtful judge that abuse has, in fact, occurred.

It needs to be assumed that in a healthy relationship, a woman would tell her partner she's pregnant, and would listen to what he has to say about the issue. That's not to say a good woman does whatever he thinks is best, of course, but that she would at least take his thoughts on the matter into consideration. It also needs to be assumed that if a woman does not tell her partner, she has a legitimate reason why not. Either way, we need to trust women more, instead of demonize them to the point where we feel the law needs to step in in order to force them to be rational, moral actors in society.

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree. 'Healthy relationships' are ideal, but they are definitely not the reality of the world. There is absolutely no reason for such a law to exist.

    Now, I do believe that women should, in cases of healthy relationships, go to their partner and discuss the issue with them. In an ideal world, any decision regarding abortion ought to be made with the mutual consent of both parents - however, this is something that should never be enshrined in our legal system.