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Alito and the rights of men

November 01, 2005|Glenn Sacks | GLENN SACKS writes about issues involving men and fathers. His website is

IMMEDIATELY AFTER President Bush nominated Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Organization for Women sent out a nationwide "action alert" announcing that it is "ready for the fight" against Alito, and that he "opposes our rights."

Planned Parenthood also wasted no time before blasting the nomination, saying that Alito had shown "callous disregard of battered women."

How did Alito do these terrible things? Apparently his sin is his 1991 vote to uphold a section of a Pennsylvania law that required women to notify their husbands if they intended to have an abortion. That law, according to women's rights groups, would have put women in harm's way by subjecting them to the wrath of their angry husbands. (When NOW says "husband" or "father," it's usually preceded by the word "abusive"; the word "wife" is generally modified by "battered.")

I hate to interrupt the ladies while they're enjoying a good lynching, but Alito's defense of the Pennsylvania law is quite defensible, despite their hysterical claims. Alito simply acknowledged the principle that husbands and fathers also have a reasonable interest in their unborn children.

And the truth is that the statute contained numerous, well-enumerated protections for women -- protections that Alito cited and supported. Section 3209 of the law specifically stated that a woman's obligation to inform her husband did not apply if she had reason to believe it was likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury. (If she were to claim this falsely, it would be punished -- gasp -- as a third-degree misdemeanor.)

What's troubling in all this is how indignant women's advocates become at the simple suggestion that husbands be granted any consideration in these matters. Over the last 30 years, the issue has been loaded with anti-male double standards.

For instance, when a woman gets pregnant she -- and she alone -- has the right to decide whether or not to carry the baby to term, and whether to raise the child herself or to give it up for adoption. Fathers have no say in the matter.

In Los Angeles today, bus stop posters read "No shame. No blame. No names." The posters explain that in California, as in more than 40 states, a mother can terminate all parental responsibility by returning the baby to the hospital within a few days or weeks of birth, with no repercussions (and no consultation with the father).

Yet if the mother decides that she wants to keep the child, she can demand 18 years of child support from the father, and he has no choice in the matter.

Feminists base their support for Roe vs. Wade in large part on the idea of "My Body, My Choice." Yet men also help create children. Why should they have no say?

Fetal protection laws now severely punish anyone who harms a fetus -- except for mom. A Texas teenager, Gerardo Flores, is serving life in prison for the death of two fetuses, even though his girlfriend, Erica Basoria, acknowledged asking him to help end her pregnancy.

According to Basoria, four months into her pregnancy with twins she regretted not getting an abortion and punched herself in the stomach while Flores stepped on her stomach to induce a miscarriage. Basoria, who stood by Flores and cried when he was sentenced, could not be prosecuted because of her legal right to abortion.

Alito may or may not have been correct in supporting the Pennsylvania law. But he wasn't wrong in acknowledging reproductive rights for men.

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