Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Love, American Style

I have few comments to make regarding Bush’s latest choice for the Supreme Court. I am not so naïve to believe I would have liked any choice Bush would make, but obviously, Alito is no Sandra Day O’Connor. Still, after going over some of the judgments Mr. Alito has made in the past, one particular case sparked some dissent in this American-Greek household.

Generally speaking, my husband has little interest in the SCOTUS nominees, except to the extent that it riles me. However, when I was looking over a brief list of some of Alito’s cases, I opened a discussion with my husband about one of them: Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, where Alito disagreed with the majority in a ruling that struck down a Pennsylvania law that required women to notify their husbands if they planned to get an abortion.

Personally, yes I do believe a woman should notify her husband if she is planning on having an abortion, but you would pretty much guarantee that would be the case if the marriage is good, right? If the marriage is bad, if the husband abuses the wife, if the wife had an affair, if they aren’t getting along and the wife just doesn’t want to be pregnant, well, these are all possibilities. But these are all instances that are between a husband and wife, and not really the business of the courts to decide. There shouldn’t be ANY law that says what a wife MUST tell her husband. Ever. Especially not in the United States of America.

Yes, I understand that marriage itself is a legal contract. I understand that both husbands and wives promise to love, honor, and obey. But I think the U.S. would be crossing a very dangerous legal line if the law ever dictates what a wife must tell her husband. Take two more steps backwards and women will no longer be allowed to vote. Perhaps that is a little extreme, but is it really? I am afraid I can’t put anything past reality anymore. Things happen that you think could never happen all the time.

Now, my husband perhaps disagrees with me a bit on this. I suppose his concern is as valid as mine, as he can see the husband’s point of view better than I can. He thinks, ultimately, it would be unfair that if in a marriage, if a wife becomes pregnant and decides she doesn’t want to have a child, the husband should be notified of the abortion. It is the decent husband he is concerned for, not the abuser. And in his opinion, should a wife have an abortion without consulting with him, he should have the right to sue her.

In response to one of the cases I listed above, the abusive marriage, his reply is “well, she should leave and go get help, then”. Easier said than done, isn’t it ladies? And should that woman be required by law to tell the abusive son of a bitch she is pregnant and intends to have an abortion, what will happen to her then? What will happen to the child?

In the end, the issue is far too complicated to be dictated by law. There are too many possibilities. In the good marriage, I can’t imagine pregnancy and abortion would not be discussed. In the bad marriage, well perhaps the woman should be protected. Either way, it is not the business of the courts to mandate what should happen. Leave such things out of the law books. They have no place in a free nation.

Now, if my husband doesn’t reset the clock in the kitchen soon, there will problems of a different nature in THIS household.


The SeaWitch said...

This issue is a tough one. I completely understand Thanos' argument...in a perfect world, women SHOULD tell their husbands if they plan to get an abortion. It's the right thing to do. It's the responsible thing to do. However, as you stated Mel, we don't live in a perfect world let alone perfect marriages. I just have to think about devout Catholics who don't take birth control...how many children must a woman have before she can say 'enough is enough"? If you're married and your husband possesses any of the negative attributes you mentioned in your blog, Mel, then how can a woman have a child's best interests at heart if she will raise him/her in an environment dominated by a degenerate husband? Many women feel that they can't handle having a child or even another child if there isn't enough money to feed themselves. Or if the husband shares no familial responsibilities whatsoever.

I can think of dozens of scenarios like these and for that reason, I do agree with you Mel...that the government should not dictate just what a wife must tell her husband. It's between them, not the courts. Besides, look at the precedent that such a judgement would have. Would the courts then be able to dictate that a man must tell his wife if he's cheating on her (for health reasons alone, I can understand the logic behind it) but I believe such laws regulating the level of communication between spouses would cause more harm than good.

Thanos said...

You're all talking about this, as if it's an issue of kiss and tell. If one spouse cheats on the other, that's their business. A child is the business of both.

I hate the "feminist" (quotation marks, because it's not really feministic, it's "misandristic" if you'll allow me the term) view that "it's my body, I'll do what I want". That's just crap. A child is made of two bodies and saying "I have it in my body I'll do what I want" is just opening a can of worms. What if the man says "I have the money, I'll do what I want", or "I'm stronger, I'll beat the hell out of you". We frown upon such statements, but for some reason the first statement is "empowerment".

Should there be a law? I think there probably should. Why should there be a law protecting spouses from adultery? Why should there be a law granting wronged spouses alimony? Why should the law regulate common property (property!) and not common flesh?

What kind of woman would not tell her husband that she's pregnant? One that's afraid you say. I suppose, that's one case. But the majority of cases would be (is) just women who don't want the nuisance "at the time", or have had enough. Or whatever. If they do have an abortion, the husband should damn well have a say. Not just be notified... have a say. It's too serious an issue.

melusina said...

Well, this is one issue that Thanos and I will never see eye to eye on. He can only see it from a male perspective "who will protect the husband?", and while I think, in the majority of cases, it is extremely immoral for a wife to not notify her husband of pregnancy and the intent to have an abortion, I do not think it should be law.

It *is* a serious issue, but one that I don't think the courts should be involved in. For one, there are too many different circumstances that would be exceptional or extreme. For another, I don't think the courts can get involved with such an issue and do it fairly, in a way that protects both a man and a woman. In the end, with the domestic abuse rates as high as they are in America, it could cause a lot of harm to women and children, in my opinion.

The career woman who is happily married and decides to abort a child without consulting her husband will pay for it in some other way, but we can't have it be a law, and we can't have it set precedent. Period.

Men can think all they want about how ridiculous the feminist "my body, my choice" cry is, but we aren't far removed from the day when women weren't treated much better than servants by their husbands, and having the man's children - as many as he so desired, was her position in life. Let's not go back to that.

Sure, in an ideal world, none of this would matter. But in the real world, such a law *would* be a step backwards.

sappho said...

I agree with you Mel...I do understand your man's point(from the good husband prospective), but ultimatly it is the womans body. The day when a man pushes a baby out of his body is the day I will sympathize with them. If the goverment continues to chip away at womens rights, eventually we will have nil to none. There are many, many cases of bad marriages where the women are abused and the courts can't possibly make that determination without prying into the families personal life--which I feel is not their job. What's next? Women will be entitled by law to take care of the house while the husbands at work? Women will be made to legally provide their husband's with sex at least 3 times a week? It can actually be endless if this kind of thing passes (although I do admit those examples are extreme, but with this goverment-anythings possible-& when you give them an inch they take a mile.) It is a moral issue to inform your husband ( which I feel they should-if marriage is good & safe) not a legal one. I wrote a post about this on my blog, check it out. It has some examples of cases in which Alito shows not only his discrimination against women, but people of color as well. But you know the deal Mel, Bush & this goverment are setting it all up and the regression is amazing.

The SeaWitch said...

You're all talking about this, as if it's an issue of kiss and tell. If one spouse cheats on the other, that's their business. A child is the business of both.

If one person cheats on the other is not just a matter of kiss and tell. With the number of STDs (especially AIDS) out there on the rise, it becomes a matter of life and death and at the very least, a matter of chronic health problems.

So if a woman by law, must declare her intention to have an abortion to her husband, then that law could also be extended to cheating spouses. As you well know, laws are written with one case study at the forefront but by the time its put into practice, it can be challenged and amended to cover many more scenarios like the one I just mentioned.

I can't really say I believe in the "it's my body, I'll do what I want with it" mentality either. I have said that, in a perfect world, a perfect marriage, women should tell their husbands. But when a woman decides to have an abortion without the knowledge of her husband, that marriage is far from perfect to begin with.

Writing a law with only one scenario in your head...the devoted husband who would make a great father. There are just too many situations in real life where a law like that would be considered draconian.

Thanos said...

There is a way to make it work for all (most, fine) marriages. The lawmakers can include safeguards, Mel and I talked about it at length. The law regulates so many other stupid facets of marriage (and yes, if you get an STD you ARE required to disclose it or face civil criminal charges), why not this? The simple courtesy of telling the husband? Why should the husband have no say in this?

It's sexist and misanthropistic. I know the "it's our body" argument, I understand the "we endure the changes and bodily danger" - they are still not excuse enough. A child is the product of two people, both should be involved in decisions. The law needs to start protecting the husband too.

At the very least, there should be the "opposite" law, if you will. If the husband finds out the wife had a secret abortion, he should be able to claim immediate divorce and the woman gets nothing. No alimony, no houses, kids, dogs, potted plants. At the very least have this opposite with a clause to protect the abused woman.

Of course, I know how lawyers will butcher all this. Still, this initiative was not all bad. Not at all.

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