Should men be able to ‘veto’ abortion decisions? Why you should expect most Americans to agree

Print More
41st MARCH FOR LIFE MARCH passing in front of National Archives on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Street, NW, Washington DC on Thursday afternoon, 22 January 2015 by Elvert Barnes Protest Photography

Elvert Barnes Protest Photography via Flickr creative commons

41st MARCH FOR LIFE MARCH passing in front of National Archives on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Street, NW, Washington DC on Thursday afternoon, 22 January 2015 by Elvert Barnes Protest Photography

 

Dr. Keith Ablow sparked headlines with a statement on Fox News yesterday with a controversial statement over abortion. But many Americans are likely to support the psychiatrist’s comments.

The topic on Outnumbered was the dispute between actress Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb over the fate of their two frozen embryos. Ablow not only supported Loeb’s custody claim, he went further to state that he backs allowing men to “veto” a woman’s abortion decision.

I’ve been outspoken on this. I think men should be able to veto women’s abortions if they’re willing to care for the child after it’s born.

In 2011, Ablow made his claim in a Fox News editorial:

If a man has participated in creating a new life and is fully willing to parent his child (independently, if necessary), why should he not have any control over whether that life is ended?…It’s time to give men their due as fathers—from the moment of conception. Allow men who want to be fathers, and who could be good parents, to compel the women they impregnate to bring their children to term.

Many Americans – perhaps most Americans – will agree with Ablow. Americans are ambivalent about abortion. Most want women to have access to abortion, but most also want the reasons for the abortion to restricted to cases of serious birth defects, rape, or health of the mother.

Surveys over the past couple of decades have not asked about men “vetoing” abortion decisions. But we can get a good picture by looking at Americans’ attitudes toward abortion.

According to the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS), 45 percent of Americans are “pro-choice,” supporting a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without restrictions. About the same percentage oppose abortion because the woman is too poor to raise the child or because the woman does not want any more children.

Support for abortion rises in cases where there is a serious defect with the fetus (74%), the pregnancy resulted from rape (78%), or when the woman’s health is in danger (88%).

In the case that Ablow describes, a majority of Americans would likely oppose the abortion. The fetus is healthy. The pregnancy wasn’t the result of rape. The woman’s health isn’t in danger. The woman will not be forced to raise or support the child. A large plurality of Americans would still support the woman’s choice, but a majority would not see this as a case in which the woman should be permitted to have an abortion.

Earlier surveys have also found support for husbands being notified about an abortion decision. A 2005 Gallup poll found 64 percent of Americans supporting a requirement that a husband should be informed before his wife has an abortion. Among those who attended church weekly, support for husband notification was at 74 percent. Those who never attended church were less supportive, but 42 percent still believed that a husband should be notified.

Perhaps the next Fox News poll will include some questions on this topic. But despite a large segment of the country finding Ablow’s comments shocking, most Americans are likely to agree with him.

Don’t miss any more posts from the Corner of Church & State. Click the red subscribe button in the right hand column. Follow @TobinGrant on Twitter and on the Corner of Church & State Facebook page.