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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » abortion rights

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Author Topic: abortion rights
christinejones
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i was wondering what the general feeling was on the importance of informing ones partner if you are considering an abortion.
when i got pregnant my partner was a very strong, volatile, furious, rich, powerful, intimidating 30-something man (with two handguns!!!) who has always got his own way in life and the whole relationship was coming to a turbulent angry end (it should never have started probably but that's a different topic).
i never thought twice about telling him - there was no way i would have and i still haven't and wouldn't in the future either.... if he ever found out though the level of his anger would be HUGE i know it - not because of the termination so much (he already has another child in NY whom he supports financially but never bothers to see despite the mother's entreaties) but because of the lack of control he had over a decision which also affects him. he wouldn't have considered me or my opinion for even two seconds but would have bulldozed to get his own way (i'm not sure which way he would have gone either) and he would have made the termination a whole lot more traumatic - it would HAVE to be all about him.
finally he is not someone who would ever feel an emotional responsibility or duty toward his child unless it amused him temporarily to do so - but it would be his wants and needs first regardless and when bored he would be quite capable of 'ditching' the child no matter how badly it would affect them.
it's not as though i thought this all through at the time it simply never occurred to me to tell him.
i was just wondering what most people thought about the 'ethics' of not telling the other person concerned.

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lemming
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I guess I'm going to jump right in on this one.

In the US, for the time being at least, a woman still has the right to choose whether she will terminate her pregnancy. This is her right and her decision to make.

Personally, I feel that it is up to a woman to decide if she will tell her partner, and that this decision may be based on many things. It sounds like you understood that you needed to keep it to yourself in order to protect yourself emotionally; some women may need to keep the consideration of an abortion secret in order to protect themselves from bodily harm.

Ethically, I believe I am with the law on this: No one needs to know except the woman considering the abortion. It is her choice, and there is nothing wrong with her deciding not to tell her partner. It is the woman who is overwhelmingly the one who will take care of the child (as you noted as in the case in NY) and the woman who will give birth if no abortion takes place.

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Jim007
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quote:
Originally posted by lemming:
It is the woman who is overwhelmingly the one who will take care of the child (as you noted as in the case in NY) and the woman who will give birth if no abortion takes place.


Wait a minute...there is no scientific or sociological data to support this statement. Men are capable of being equally good parents as women. Granted the women will be carrying the baby for 9 months, but men can and usually do take an equal share of the child-raising responsibilities. Obviously this is not always 100% true, as in the NY example, but there are many instances where women can be just as neglegent with their children as well. There is no law stating that women must take on the majority of child-raising responsibilities.

Personally, I believe it would be unethical not to tell the father. At Scarleteen, honesty is always advocated to be a prominent part of a relationship, whether its with a partner, friend, or family member. Obviously, this only applies if being honest won't cause you any type of harm (and if you feel that your partner would hurt you in any way--emotionally or physically--then that is not a healthy relationship to begin with). My personal opinion is that if you can not be open and be able to deal with possible consequences of intercourse, then you shouldn't be in a sexual relationship with that person, and that applies to both people. If a woman feels that her partner would not handle an abortion well, then it is my belief that that relationship is not ready for sex.

Furtermore, the man is half responsible for the pregnancy. Therefore, I feel that the law should require that the man should at least be informed of a woman's decision regarding a pregnancy. However, I feel that in a healthy relationship any decision should be a joint-decision between the two. Part of being sexually ready is being able to talk about sex with a partner prior to any sexual activity, which includes a clear plan of dealing with a pregnancy which both partners agree on. If an agreement can not be reached then I truly believe that those two people should not be having sex. Although there are many measures couples can take to prevent a pregnancy, this does not eliminate the need to be able to talk about dealing with it (not to mention STD's)--no birth control method is 100% effective, and therefore a pregnancy is possible in all sexual situations.

I'm guessing that my statement per changing the law so that male partners will be informed of decisions regarding pregnancy is not the prevailing viewpoint, so I'd definatly be willing to hear some reasons why that may not be a good idea.

Thats just my opinion.

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Eat, drink, and be merry

For tomorrow we die

~DMB

[This message has been edited by Jim007 (edited 12-03-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Jim007 (edited 12-03-2004).]


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Dude_who_writes
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I have a question, though, Jim:

What line in the sand should be drawn as to how far the male should be able to go?

Father's rights have long been a platform for the anti-choice movement. Should the man, who as you've said is equally responsible for conception, be allowed the ability to stop a woman from having an abortion, despite the fact that he will hardly be responsible for the physical and emotional risks tied up in a woman carrying a baby that she ultiamtely didn't want -- given that she was going the route of having an abortion?

I agree with you that yes, it is the best policy (so long as it's within the limits of the woman's personal safety) to be open and honest within a relationship, but the burden at least of carrying a child is not in any way in the man's court -- it's the sole duty of the woman to act as an incubator for that baby for the period of nine months. And that really is what the platform of the pro-choice movement is all about -- a woman being able to choose what she will and will not do with her body, and what will and will not be done to it.

And though in theory I agree with the informing the man of the pregnancy and the interest in termation is a good policy, I have to worry that it's merely a slippery slope that the anti-choice camp could easily take advantange of, to the point of exploiting the so-called father's rights to do away with abortion.

For me -- and this is strictly speaking from the personal -- I don't see myself as having any choice as to whether or not my partner should or should not have an abortion. By the bological "virtue" of being born male, I won't have to shoulder the burden of carrying a baby. With that in mind, I can't comfortably say to any partner, should the situation arise, "you need to carry that baby because I will take care of it." Call me crazy, but I feel like forcing someone to endure a pregnancy -- especially an unwanted pregnancy -- is within the bounds of what I can and cannot do ethically speaking. That said, I do like to think that in my relationships, a level of safe openness and honesty would be in place so that my feelings could be taken into consideration, but I personally don't feel comfortable with using my feelings as a reasoning point in telling a partner what can and cannot be done to her body.

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christinejones
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it is the woman who will overwhelming take responsibility for the child - lemming....
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jim007:
[B] Wait a minute...there is no scientific or sociological data to support this statement.

(sorry i can't work out how to quote things properly - how do you get it all in black with the nice line)

Is there not??? I'm not a statistician but just looking around a non-scientific level and knowing a few people i would say also overwhelmingly the level of single mothers must outweigh the level of single fathers by at least 100 to 1 - probably more.

I hope this doesn't sound too 'man-bashing' cos i don't mean it like that but my ex-boyfriend is by no means the only man I know who doesn't bother to see his child or get involved in its life. I have another friend with the sweetest 7 year old boy and they flew all the way to Bermuda to go to see the father --- it was all set up and the child was so excited. He was up at six in the morning; put on his special spiderman outfit - dancing around the hotel room. the father was supposed to come at 11.

11 comes; then 11.30, 12, 1, 2. it was excruciating for her to be with his increasing disappointment and incomprehension finally at three-thirty they get a phone call "oh i'm sorry but the surf was really good --- can we make it later"

in the end they did meet so that was good --- but there are squadrillions of examples where the father just doesn't want to know/can't be bothered/will make an effort for five minutes maximum....

there are loads of examples of famous people/ film actors/musicians who seem to have a father that bunked off/walked out/left/never to be seen again until they hit the big time..... when funnily enough they decide they want to be back in their lives! (yeah, yeah too much reading national enquirer...... oh dear)

i'm sure there must be some statistical data to support this fact. oftentimes there is not even any financial support forthcoming or if there is it has to be enforced by the threat of prison.

so i reckon lemming is definitely right somewhere with that statement. all the best cj

[This message has been edited by christinejones (edited 12-04-2004).]


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banddryad
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim007:
Wait a minute...there is no scientific or sociological data to support this statement. Men are capable of being equally good parents as women. Granted the women will be carrying the baby for 9 months, but men can and usually do take an equal share of the child-raising responsibilities.

Actually, I sit in class all day hearing about statistics that do support Lemming's statement.

And it's specifically sociological data that shows it.

Lemming was not trying to say "there's proof that men can't take care of their children just as well."

It was also not an opportunity to take what Lemming said out of context. I believe it was obvious that Lemming was referring to the outstanding prevailence of unmarried mothers as the sole provider in our country. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, but the statistics do show that the traditional role of the female caregiver is still around.

There are studies that show an apparent rise in stay-at-home fathers, they're usually married, and this is due to the rise in women persuing more prestigious and educated careers.

But, that has little to do with the fact that, statisticly speaking, women remain the higher percentage of primary caregivers.

[This message has been edited by banddryad (edited 12-04-2004).]


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Jim007
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Okay, when I look at Lemming's statement now (a day later), I realize I misinterpreted it. I took it to mean that in a relationship where both parents take care of the child the woman overwhelmingly takes the majority of responsibility. It wasn't until today that I took it mean that there are more single mothers than fathers, which obviously can't be denied.

However, that doesn't mean that a woman should be able to say, "Since I'm more likely to end up being a single parent and bearing the burdens associated with child-raising than the father, I just don't need to tell him that I'm having an abortion." Just assuming that a man is not going to be a part of the child's life is a huge generalization. Just because statistics show that in both non-marriage and marriage relationships involving a child the mother is more likely to end up a single parent than the father doesn't mean all fathers will not be there. To say so is a huge stereotype. When a woman doesn't tell her partner about her choice to have an abortion, she's assuming that that man will be a poor father, and she's making that stereotype--and that's not right.

I would also like to clear up my statement about men having a say in decisions whether or not their partner should have an abortion. I never said that I think it should be a law...as mentioned, that would create so many complications and really would not be fair to the woman inolved. I said that I think prior to any sexual activities the couple should discuss what they would do in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. Sexual readiness does not just apply to individual people. Relationships can not be sexually ready, even if both parties involved are. Personally, I feel that if the couple cannot agree on what to do in the case of an unwanted pregnancy then that relationship is not ready for sex. Its a proactive approach to pregnancy rather than a reactive approach, and obviously its better to be prepared, as with pretty much everything in life.

Please don't take my statements to believe that I'm anti-choice (no one's mentioned it but in case anyone is thinking it), because I'm not. Honestly, however, I feel that abortion is a bad thing. The reason I'm pro-choice is because despite that, there is a legitimate need for the right to have an abortion. In fact, my girlfriend and I have each agreed that an abortion would be the best course of action in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, and I would expect her to tell me if she's pregnant because she knows that we've agreed on an abortion.

I just feel that since a man is half responsible for a pregnancy and that it would be his child, he should at least be informed of an abortion. Like I said, if you don't feel comfortable telling a partner about an abortion due to a fear of his reaction, then I feel that the couple should not be having sex. Furthermore, if you're scared that he might hurt you because of your decision, then that isn't a healthy relationship.

Its all about being prepared. Preparation would eliminate this issue entirely.

------------------
Eat, drink, and be merry

For tomorrow we die

~DMB

[This message has been edited by Jim007 (edited 12-04-2004).]


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christinejones
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ok - i'm not saying this in any way in reference to my own personal case but as a generalised response.

you mention a lot (and i would quote it but i can't seem to work it properly) that if someone hasn't discussed this and that they are not ready for sex...

maybe, for you - but i know a lot of people who want sex without a relationship. who enjoy one-night stands for example --- not everyone who is having sex is in a standard, completely monogamous marriage-type relationship and maybe it is not 'right' from your pov but it suits them. just wanted to point that out....


oh and just ANOTHER example oh boy... normally they have protection but it doesn't always work and that's what happened to a friend of mine but she chose to keep the child against his wishes and the adamant advice of all her family who then tried to also pressure her to give him up for adoption - but she knew what she wanted to do and i reckon had the right to do it too.

the boy is an absolute sweetie (again) just adorable but the father doesn't want to know (she told him at the time and he said he didn't want to have anything to do with it - which is fair enough he hadn't planned on having a child and was under the assumption that it was nothing more than sex) so she supports her son on her own and he is the nicest child i know (excepting my own nephews and neices!) - i love him but it is tough for him and for her but they cope especially as her mother completely came around after the birth and dotes on him too.

her dad is out of the picture i think he lives in south africa but he might be dead for all anyone knows. so i think he misses having a male role model which is such a shame but there is no way you can force a guy to get involved - its just detrimental for everyone.


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spinnersis
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"When a woman doesn't tell her partner about her choice to have an abortion, she's assuming that that man will be a poor father, and she's making that stereotype--and that's not right."

Jim I agree with you that in *most* cases it would be unethical for a woman not to tell her partner about an abortion. However, I think that in *most* cases, she probably does. I also agree that in a perfect world couples would have worked out ways to deal with pregnancy before hand, but we're idealists Jim.

It's just plain silly to argue that a woman's choice has anything to do with a stereotype about bad fathers. Now there are exceptions to every rule, but most of the time a woman will know something about her partner's personality. If she doesn't think he'd be a reliable father to her child she's probably not basing that on a stereotype or wide ranging statistics, but on her personal knowledge of the fellow in question.

I don't think that women having abortions without telling their partners is an epidemic problem (and I don't mean to imply that you do). I think that overwhelmingly women do discuss the decision with their partners. Of the women who don't tell their partners about a pregnancy and subsequent abortion, probably a pretty slim amount of them are in healthy relationships. Whether it's a potentially dangerous situation for the woman, or one where she does not think she can be honest, or (and it definately happens) maybe she's just dishonest and it has nothing to do with her partner. Men certainly aren't always the ones at fault if a relationship is unhealthy.

Also (and this is just another guess on my part) in cases of unwanted pregnancies that do end in termination, I doubt that there are many fathers on the sidelines who were really argueing to keep and raise the baby themselves. (Let's also keep in mind that wanting to have sex with someone and wanting them to become a permanent part of your life by raising a child with them are two very different things. And the other parent of you child is a permanent fixture for better or worse whether you remain a couple or not.) I'm also pretty sure that there are far more woman pushed by fair-weather boyfriends (or husbands)into having an abortion than there are women with caring, supportive, wannabe-father partners who get abortions anyway.

In a perfect world this discussion wouldn't even be necessary. People wouldn't be in disfunctional relationships, and they wouldn't put themselves at risk for unwanted pregnancy, and if they did, they'd have caring supportive partners and could come to a mutually satisfying healthy decision. And everything would be sunshine and roses. Unfortunately we don't live in that world so all these things have to be considered on an individual level. That's why blanket statements like "It is unethical for a woman not to tell her partner about an abortion" or "Men don't care for their children as well as women" don't work out very well.


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Jim007
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quote:
Originally posted by christinejones:
you mention a lot (and i would quote it but i can't seem to work it properly) that if someone hasn't discussed this and that they are not ready for sex...

maybe, for you - but i know a lot of people who want sex without a relationship. who enjoy one-night stands for example --- not everyone who is having sex is in a standard, completely monogamous marriage-type relationship and maybe it is not 'right' from your pov but it suits them. just wanted to point that out....


The reason I advocate sex in only a partnership-type relationship (this doesn't mean marriage, although marriage falls into this category) is so issues such as this can be avoided altogether. If I had a sexual encounter in say, a one-night stand resulting in a pregnancy, and the girl chose to keep a baby, I'd be up a creek seeing as how that is not something I want at this point in my life. Someone who is anti-abortion who gets someone pregnant in the same situation and the girl chooses to have an abortion would be pretty upset as well. These are things which both people would have no control over, but things which could have a huge effect on them. Thats why I don't like those types of relationships, because you really don't know the other person, and from a guy's perspective they have a lot more power over you when it comes to an unwanted pregnancy. Thats just something i wish people would think about more prior to getting involved in those situations. However, you're right, thats just my point of view. Thats not what this topic is about, so I really don't want to open up a can of worms. Yeah I guess I am thinking idealistically, but in either of those situations I still think its unethical to not inform the male partner of a decision regarding an abortion for the same reasons mentioned in my other posts.

quote:
Originally posted by spinnersis:
It's just plain silly to argue that a woman's choice has anything to do with a stereotype about bad fathers. Now there are exceptions to every rule, but most of the time a woman will know something about her partner's personality. If she doesn't think he'd be a reliable father to her child she's probably not basing that on a stereotype or wide ranging statistics, but on her personal knowledge of the fellow in question.

I agree with that statement entirely. However, whether or not someone would be a good father has nothing to do with them being informed of an abortion decision, but rather the abortion decision itself. Personally, I do feel that if a woman feels that her partner would make a bad father she is doing nothing wrong by having an abortion. However, not telling your parnter about an abortion because you don't think he'd make a good father seems like a poor reason to me.

I hope that cleared up some of my statements.

P.S. Thanks for the constructive points--this is a really good discussion.

P.S.S. To quote, there is a button right above an individual poster's post. Its on the same line as the person't username. I believe when your mouse is placed over the button it will say, reply with quote. Its right next to the edit button if that helps.

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Eat, drink, and be merry

For tomorrow we die

~DMB

[This message has been edited by Jim007 (edited 12-04-2004).]


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christinejones
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim007:
However, not telling your parnter about an abortion because you don't think he'd make a good father seems like a poor reason to me.




i didn't want the baby and i thought it was my decision.

although i probably didn't think it all out at the time --- but the reason i didn't tell the father was in part because i didn't think it was his decision to make but also (in the case of my boyfriend particularly) he has such an incredible mental strength that had he wanted to he might well have been able to override my decision by fear/bullying/strength of personality/whatever...

or if not, he would have been very happy to make my life a living hell in an attempt to get his own way because he doesn't have the sort of personality which is capable of considering anyone else but himself.

funnily enough - we did have a vague conversation on the subject of children and i mentioned that i thought it was after my sister had her first child that her marriage started to fall apart because she had always put her husband's needs/wants first (and in fact she puts everyone's in front of her own generally) so he hugely resented it when the child's needs came ahead of his.

to me it is a total no-brainer that a helpless child should have primary consideration over a fully grown adult BUT my ex-boyfriend completely exploded (i have to say he was insane i realised after a bit - too bad not earlier!!) and shouted that there is no way you should put a child in front of your husband and if you are even thinking of doing it you should get down on your knees and beg his permission to do so!!!! (absolutely his words)

i mean you're right - it was without doubt the most dysfunctional relationship i have ever been in - in some ways. he was an incredibly charismatic man but then so was Hitler and Stalin but slowly, bit by bit, his rabid anti-semitism started to show through plus a whole load of other things.

Initially though we just hit it off and it was great so I don't know what to say - it was all very surprising he was amazing to be with on one level but he must be borderline nuts i'm sure. this is not relevant to the general query but just gonna say it anyway so sorry if i bored you to have gone of my own tangent - i am sooo glad i am out of there and got out before too long too.

i get your pov on one level and i think as the other poster said perhaps it is simply a case by case decision which most people would make together with their partner.

but i often wonder with all this anti-choice legislation whether it is not so much about being pro-life but the fact that it IS the woman's decision (at the moment) and can be entirely out of the hands of the man involved and it is that fact, that feeling of impotence/disempowerment that is as much of a driving force behind this legislation as being pro-life. a bit off-topic but how can a country which still has the death-penalty in some states and a president who enforces it really be pro-life?


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banddryad
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quote:
Originally posted by christinejones:
[QUOTE]... a bit off-topic but how can a country which still has the death-penalty in some states and a president who enforces it really be pro-life?

(Because he's an elected-professional hypocrite. Think back to your Hitler/Stalin reference. Gr.)


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