Missouri Republican: Men Should Have to Grant Permission for Abortions

Illustration for article titled Missouri Republican: Men Should Have to Grant Permission for Abortions

The year is almost over, meaning that if your lawmakers want to file any viciously stupid new bills to waste time on during next year's legislative session, they better do it quick. In that spirit, Missouri state representative Rick Brattin just filed a bill proposing that a woman seeking an abortion be forced to get "written, notarized consent" from the father. Except, he says, in the case of "legitimate rape." Hoo boy.


As Molly Redden at Mother Jones was first to report, Brattin filed the bill December 3, which proposes that an abortion-seeking person have to get permission from the man who begat the fetus. Here's the relevant language:

No abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the abortion, except in cases in which the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced was the victim of rape or incest and the pregnancy resulted from the rape or incest. If the father of the unborn child is deceased, the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced shall sign a notarized affidavit attesting to the fact. No physician shall perform or induce an abortion unless and until the physician has obtained the written consent required in this subsection. The physician shall retain a copy of the consent or affidavit in the patient's medical record.

In an interview with Redden, Brattin said that while there are exceptions for victims of rape or incest, it has to be the right kind of rape: ""Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it," he told her. "So you couldn't just go and say, 'Oh yeah, I was raped,' and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape." Oh, word?

Brattin is just 34 and was only elected in 2010, but this isn't his first brainwave: he made headlines last year when he launched a bid for anti-evolution lessons in science classes, telling the Riverfront Times that while he's a "huge science buff," he believes intelligent design has been unfairly maligned. In January of this year, he filed a bill calling for Missouri to bring back execution by firing squad. This month, he also filed a bill suggesting that any federal law be deemed unenforceable in Missouri if lawmakers there don't like it (something expressly forbade in the Constitution, but, um, okay, Rick. Give that one a shot.)

Brattin's bill will go nowhere, and it'll waste a lot of taxpayer time and money getting there. That's because it isn't legal, and hasn't been for a very long time: in 1976, Planned Parenthood v. Danforth made it unconstitutional for a woman to have to get parental or spousal consent to obtain an abortion. (Correction: As several commenters have pointed, parental consent and parental notification laws were later found to be constitutional in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.) Nonetheless, men do periodically sue on those grounds and lose. And conservative lawmakers in Ohio tried filing a fatherly consent bill in the 2009 legislative session, which died in committee. It's not legal and it doesn't work. Nonetheless, anti-abortion outfits like Live Action News still recommend that men try obtaining legal injunctions to prevent their wives or girlfriends from getting abortions.

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Did the woman provide written consent for the man to ejaculate in the first place?