Monday, February 06, 2017

From The Handmaid's Tale: Take Two. Rapists' Fatherhood Rights in Arkansas.

So the Republicans in Arkansas have given husbands the right to stop their wives from having an abortion, even if the pregnancy is due to spousal rape. 

Imagine a couple with an acrimonious relationship, veering toward divorce.  The husband could rape his wife and then force her to give birth.  The wife's fertility would then be controlled by the husband whose rights to become a father would not be diminished even by marital rape.

Similar arguments apply to the case where a father has impregnated his daughter.  He still has the right to try to stop her from aborting the pregnancy:

The most disturbing part of the new Arkansas law is a provision that allows the husband or legal guardian of a woman seeking a D&E to stop her from doing so by suing for injunctive relief. This means that a man who rapes his wife or a father who rapes his daughter will be able to prevent her from terminating a resulting pregnancy in the second trimester. A survivor of sexual violence may need an abortion later in her pregnancy because the trauma of assault could make it difficult for her to consider and confront the consequences. If a woman does get a doctor to perform a D&E, under the Arkansas law, her husband could also sue the abortion provider for damages.

Perhaps more insidious than the above extreme cases is the general idea that others can force a woman to give birth, whether she wishes or not.  Others cannot legally force a parent to donate, say, a kidney to their child, even if the refusal to donate results in the child's death.  But somehow pregnancies are viewed differently.  It's as if a woman's womb is a coop where the other family members and the clergy have shares.

I understand that this law is all about trying to make second trimester abortions impossible.  But, as I wrote earlier, the way the law has been sculpted reduces women's human rights.  It's doubtful that the law will be held as constitutional.