Tuesday, February 23, 2021 : By John Wesley Reid
A new Tennessee bill would give fathers the right to prevent the mother of their child from having an abortion. As to be expected, critics are claiming the bill gives men power over women’s bodies. As to the reason behind the bill, co-sponsor State Sen. Mark Pody said,
“I believe a father should have a right to say what’s gonna be happening to that child. And if somebody is going to kill that child, he should be able to say, ‘No, I don’t want that child to be killed. I want to able to raise that child and love that child.’”
Pody co-sponsored the bill with fellow Republican State Rep. Jerry Sexton.
Pody said he decided to file the bill after hearing from a concerned citizen.
The bill allows a man to petition a court for an injunction blocking the abortion. An injunction could be granted if the court finds that the petitioner is the biological father, there is reasonable probability that the mother will seek an abortion, and if the parties are not married. In this case the man could execute a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity.
DNA evidence is not required if the mother acknowledges the man’s paternity.
The bill does not allow a man to establish and then rescind paternity. Pody said, “He can’t turn around under any circumstance and say, ‘I was wrong, and it’s not mine.’”
Critics of the bill claim that the bill will grant men the power over a woman’s body. ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg said,
“This unconstitutional legislation demonstrates the condescending mindset underlying this bill: that men should control women’s bodies. Women are not chattel and this bill needs to be stopped in its tracks … This extreme and dangerous bill would even allow a rapist to stop his victim from ending a pregnancy … Nobody should have the power to make health care decisions for someone else — not a judge, a partner, and certainly not a rapist regardless of paternity.”
Executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood Francie Hunt bristled at the “insulting” bill,
“A pregnant person must have the ultimate control over their body and their pregnancy. The legislature needs to stop trying to distract the public from their leadership failures with increasingly stigmatizing abortion restrictions.”
Pody claimed there is no need for an exception for rape, saying,
“If somebody comes up and says, ‘Yes, I raped her and I’m the father,’ he should immediately go to jail. I just do not believe that somebody is gonna come in and say, ‘I committed this crime, I’m guilty of this crime. Put me in jail.'”
Tennessee has been a leader in pro-life legislation including a heartbeat bill and a “reason ban” which prevents abortion based on the child’s race, gender, or Down syndrome diagnosis.
Whether through this bill, or another avenue, men need a voice in abortion. Despite what abortion advocates believe, an unborn child is not simply an extension of the mother. A child is a separate human being and receives half of its genetic information from the mother, and half from the father.
A father has equal parentage as the mother and it is unacceptable for a woman to be able to abort a child without any say from the father. Imagine the pain a father feels at the loss of his child, and then imagine that the mother aborted that child and there was nothing the father could do about it. A father who is willing to support a child, and to be a single parent, should have equal say in what happens to that child.