Oklahoma Advances Bill Requiring Male Permission for Abortions
The Oklahoma state legislature has advanced a bill — authored by a Republican man who believes women’s bodies are mere “hosts” for fetuses — that would require women seeking abortions to get written permission from the men who impregnate them.
“A pregnant woman seeking to abort her pregnancy shall be required to provide, in writing, the identity of the father of the fetus to the physician who is to perform or induce the abortion,” the bill reads. “If the person identified as the father of the fetus challenges the fact that he is the father, such individual may demand that a paternity test be performed.”
The bill also requires paternity testing for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. There is an exemption in the case of the father’s death, although women would be required to sign notarized affidavits confirming such deaths.
Rep. Justin Humphrey, the bill’s Republican author, explained he believes the measure will teach “irresponsible” women that they do not have control over their own bodies. “I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions,” Humphrey told the Intercept. “I understand that they (women) feel like that is their body… what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host’… I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”
Oklahoma already has some of the nation’s most severe anti-choice laws, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, a 72-hour waiting period for abortions, mandatory counseling that perpetuates the false link between abortion and breast cancer and even mandatory posting of anti-abortion literature in all public schools, health centers and restaurants. Last December, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a law that would have required parental consent for minors seeking abortions, fetal tissue preservation and other controversial provisions.
The anti-abortion group Americans for Life recently ranked Oklahoma the most “pro-life” state in the nation.
Abortion foes have expressed their support for HB 1441. “I believe in the sanctity of human life, and therefore I believe strongly that our state needs to have strong pro-life legislation,” Karen Alley, speaking at an anti-abortion rally at the state capitol in Oklahoma City, told KFOR. “I believe that life begins at conception, which means to me that you become a mother at conception and therefore you become a father at conception. The fact that our young men and our young fathers don’t have a say in that choice is sad to me. It’s taking the rights of the father away.”
Reproductive rights advocates, however, blasted the measure. “I would say it’s certainly a new low for Oklahoma,” Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the Intercept. “This is, to my mind, a fruitless effort to shame and stigmatize women who are seeking abortion care and it is completely and unequivocally unconstitutional.”
HB 1441 now advances to the full state House of Representatives.