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Abortion and the Rights of the Father: Inequality or Necessity - Essay Example

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While the debate surrounding abortion is heated and tense in any case, the added issue relating to the rights of the father in such cases makes the topic of abortion increasingly controversial…
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Abortion and the Rights of the Father: Inequality or Necessity
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Download file to see previous pages While the approach to the paternal figure in abortion cases differs greatly worldwide, past case law in the UK shows a clear lack of paternal rights, particularly when the father attempts to stop the abortion.2 There are of course critics of such an approach to fathers, which have increased their level of rigour since the coming into force of the Abortion Act 1967. Movements supporting father’s rights and the men’s movement lay a claim to the inequality of the importance afforded to women over men, and require that both be considered equally. Such critics claim that the greater importance placed on women’s rights is unjustified, unreasonable and discriminatory.3 It is claimed that the law allows for women to force a man into fatherhood as well as deprive him of his right to become a father,4 and critics thus call for men to be given the legal right to prevent the woman from having an abortion. It is evident that the law places greater importance on the desire of the woman because she must carry the baby; the issue directly concerns her right to her body and her choice over what should happen to it.5 Despite the evident delicacy of the issues surrounding fathers’ rights in relation to abortion, it is often argued that there is a considerable degree of exaggeration in terms of the father’s response. Disagreement is often rare between couples, and men seldom resort to legal action.6 Yet should this be interpreted as making the right of the woman rights trump those of the man in every case?7 It is argued that the woman’s right to freedom of choice over what happens to her body and private life should always trump those of the father. The law is extremely clear on the matter: the spouse or partner of the woman simply has not legal ability to prevent or enforce an abortion.8 This stubborn yet clear stance of the law has not been declared to be in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights; the stance of the European Court clearly considers that the rights of the father do “not embrace procedural rights to be consulted where the woman intended to have an abortion”.9 This also extends to state that the woman is under no obligation to notify the father of her intention to abort the child. There is an evident conflict in the law, however, in that it requires that the father provide financial support to the child from birth; this serves to invest not only rights in the father, but also obligations. The stance of this requirement at law is based on the assumption that “the father’s responsibility for his offspring stems from the fact that he engaged in an act, sexual intercourse, which he fully realized could result in the creation of another human being”.10 The argument progresses as thus: if the law actively invests rights and obligations in the father when the child has been born, why does it decline to invest the same rights and obligations before the child has been born? This stance taken by the law allows the woman to abort despite the fact that the father may want the child, yet forces the man to pay for the child if he wanted to abort and the woman did not11 – the fairness and equality afforded to each side is extremely uneven. There is obvious fear expressed in assigning the father rights in terms of whether the woman can abort or not. Are grave dangers or injustices risked if the father is given rights to contribute to the abortion decision of the woman? The very imposition of obligations on the father once the child has been born suggests that the approach of the law concludes that: “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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