Last week, in the latest segment of “we live in a patriarchal society where men will always presume to know best,” Oklahoma state Rep. Justin Humphrey introduced a bill that would require anyone seeking an abortion to first receive express permission from the fetus’ father. To be precise, the bill would require written consent of the fetus’ father.
If a man claims to be the father of the fetus, he can demand a paternity test, which would in itself delay the abortion by at least three to five days. The bill is maniacally elaborate, allowing exceptions only if the father of the fetus is dead.
As Mic’s Marie Solis notes, essentially, “as if it’s not enough that male legislators already make decisions about what women do with their bodies, if Humphrey’s bill gets passed then the men in women’s lives will have the power to make those decisions too.”
The state of Oklahoma has a rough relationship where abortion is concerned, with its lawmakers last year presenting an eerily named plan to create an “abortion-free society,” by pushing anti-abortion, abstinence-only sexual education programs for public schools. The state additionally pushed for TRAP laws to purposefully shut clinics down, on top of mandatory counseling, required parental consent, and heavy restrictions for second-trimester abortions. All of this amounts to unconstitutional undue burden placed on women seeking the procedure.
A similar bill was also presented earlier this year in Arkansas, and was just recently signed off on by Gov. Asa Hutchinson who is, unsurprisingly, a Republican.
But this law currently being considered by Oklahoma’s legislators was found unconstitutional long ago in 1976, in the case of Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danfort, when the Supreme Court ruled against spousal consent requirements. On the optimistic side of things, it’s relatively likely that if passed, this bill could be struck down in federal courts, but that it was introduced at all — and is currently the law in Arkansas — speaks volumes about how conservatives perceive women and their disregard for our autonomy over our bodies.