Monday, October 31, 2005

"Spousal notification – would require a married woman to present a statement signed by her husband, attesting that he knows about her intention to have an abortion, before she could undergo the procedure".

The link is from Tapped, but CBS news put the subject 45 seconds into their report.
It was 1970 - the year Roe came to court. I was a young mother with three daughters under the ages of five. My life was my family. Then one day my husband left. I was terrified. Suddenly I was alone in my responsibility to my children. I was a homemaker with no money, no job, no car. I was quickly forced onto welfare.

Then - almost immediately after my husband left - I found I was pregnant. I was devastated. Physically, financially, emotionally - I couldn't care for another child.

Like most women, I never expected to even consider an abortion. I was a Catholic woman. Abortion was illegal. It was shrouded in shame and wrapped in danger. I couldn't discuss abortion with my mother, my sister or my friends - let alone my priest. I had to struggle with the moral and ethical questions alone - to debate my obligations to my children against my responsibility to the developing life inside me. In the end, I chose my children. I chose abortion.

But in those days, that was not a choice I could make by myself. I had to appear before an all-male hospital board. They asked all the awful questions. They probed into the most intimate details of my life. I felt completely worthless, violated. The only way I could get a safe, legal abortion - the only way I could avoid putting myself at risk - was to convince them that I was unstable - that I was incapable of raising another child - that I was unfit to be a mother.

But the inquisition had a final - and most demeaning - twist. The board finally agreed to grant me an abortion - but, first, I had to get written permission from the man who abandoned me and our daughters.

I found him. He gave me permission. And I had the abortion.
Kate Michelman


update such as it is, from Volokh.

2 comments:

Jumeriah said...

My opinion, and this will not be any kind of suprise for you, it is a sexist, obnoxious idea to force women to consult with their husband when they want an abortion. Not all that different from Saudi Arabia where you need your husband's permission to travel out of the country.

Yet another reason to NEVER get married.

Hey, you beat me to it, I was going to write about this.

Max Lybbert said...

I'm sorry, I'm confused. Are we upset about the particular law, that required the husband's signed statement, or about spousal notification in general?

It seems to me that for a long time the courts have dealt with people who will not admit to notification. Perhaps we could avoid the "consent" issue by using the kinds of requirements that court service permits -- the signature of the husband, *OR* the signature of a witness who saw the notification, *OR* sending the notification certified mail.