Woman's National Democratic Club

Should We Bring Back “Shotgun Weddings?”

There is much controversy among anti-abortion advocates re: the rights of the biological father to veto his female partner’s decision to have an abortion. Some nine states are legislating initiatives that would facilitate such laws. In effect, the state would force motherhood upon a pregnant woman. But as of today, none of those states would mandate any concomitant to paternal responsibilities to the purveyor of the sperm that bonded with the woman’s egg. No financial obligations would ensue to care for the pregnant woman or for the care of the child after the enforced birth.   

Recently some anti-abortion commentators have acknowledged that many pregnant women will indeed need a financial cushion during the prenatal time and in the rearing of the child when no male partner is present. Traditionally, the expectant mother might return to her biological family for solace and protection from unsafe living conditions when the biological father is absent. But many single women today come from families whose own living conditions are perilous. So those anti-abortion voices are now suggesting that federal or state monies be allocated to assist the enforced “mother to be,” rather than to identify and mandate that the biological father assume any of his rightful parental responsibilities.

Where are the voices of respected male religious leaders, male political icons, media commentators, et al. explaining to the biological “fathers to be” the joys and importance of rearing tomorrow’s sons and daughters?

Perhaps it is time to bring back the concept of expecting that every child has the right to a live-in father as well as a full-time mother, regardless of what method of persuasion is necessary.

—Karen Pataky, Chair, Public Policy & Political Action Committee; Director, Health Policy Task Force