Tennessee Debates the Power of Sperm

Both Fritz and Rachel are reporting on this legislation which would require women to notify the man by whom she is pregnant before she has an abortion.

Yes, apparently Tennessee sperm is so powerful that it can penetrate doctor-patient privilege and render privacy rights non-existent. So powerful that its mere presence at one time in a woman’s reproductive system obliges that woman to report in to that man about her medical activities.

Shoot, why stop there? Let’s just legislate that everything the sperm of Tennessee touches becomes the purview of the man from whom the sperm originates.

We’ll just be calling men up left and right “Dr. Frist, I’m about to go get my teeth cleaned. Just thought you should know.*” “Oh, shoot, I just started my period. Do you want to come over here and root through the garbage to make sure that one of your fertilized eggs didn’t fail to properly attach to my uterine wall? Just in case, I’ve got the tiny casket ready.” “I’m about to wash these sheets. Is that okay with you?” “Howdy frat boy. I saw you fucking that girl last night on my lawn. I appreciate that you practice safe sex, but you left your used condom in the grass and the lawn needs mowing and…”

*I’m inferring only for the sake of humor that I regularly perform oral sex on our Senator. I actually do not do this, as it is against my religion to blow humorless busy-bodies.

14 thoughts on “Tennessee Debates the Power of Sperm

  1. It’s kind of a silly law, since the man, once notified, can’t stop the woman from going ahead with the abortion.

    In a perfect world, the two potential parents would discuss their options, etc. In that light, he has a vested interest, etc.

  2. So, you don’t feel that a woman should notify the father? I would disagree (as to whether to legislate that, I would oppose that since it could be problematic in many circumstances). It’s not a matter of sperm touching random stuff, it’s a matter of sperm fertilzing an egg.

  3. I would feel morally obligated to tell my partner that I was having an abortion.

    I would not feel morally obligated to a one-night stand. I wouldn’t feel morally obligated to a one-night stand to tell him if I was pregnant, period, regardless of what the outcome of that pregnancy was.

    I think a woman should weigh all her options and do what’s best for her.

    Exador, you’re misunderstanding the purpose of the legislation, I think. Its purpose is to make having an abortion so hard, with so many hoops to jump through, that women either give up on it or run out of time to do it.

    You’re right that it’s not actually about empowering the potential fathers at all (at least not at this stage, though I think that’s supposed to be an upcoming bonus).

    It’s about keeping abortion legal in theory but making it almost impossible to get in practice.

  4. Yeah, Georgia is currently trying to pass a law where any abortion provider must have an ultrsound machine on premises and offer to show the woman an ultrasound of her fetus.

    In addition to the obvious “how can you abort your fetus after seeing it” angle, there is the additional expense of any doctor having to spend the money for the machine, which I’m guessing is pretty high.

    Again, throwing hoops up to make it prohibitively difficult to get an abortion.

    If TN’s purpose is to make abortion more difficult, this is a pretty poor attempt at it. So you have to notify some guy? That’s a pain, but not much of an obstacle.

  5. So, if I have to contact him to tell him about the abortion, can he then be legally required to pay for it?
    If the man refuses to grant me his almighty “permission” to have the abortion, will he guarantee that he will pay child support for the next 18 years? I bet we won’t see that little codicil to this stupid proposal.

  6. It’s kind of a silly law, since the man, once notified, can’t stop the woman from going ahead with the abortion.

    In fact, the somewhat creepy underlying assumption to this legislation is that there is, in fact, something the man can do to prevent it. It’s like “well, we can’t ban abortion, but we CAN force you to tell the MAN of the house, and woo boy, HE’LL put things straight!!! Don’t make him get out his belt!”

  7. The other question is how is it enforced? If you go for an abortion and the doctor, following the law, asks you if you informed the putative father and you say yes, but secretly you are a liar and haven’t told anyone, but six months later the putative father finds out you had an abortion without telling him what is his recourse? Can he sue you? If he sues the doctor for taking a faulty histor, can the doctor sue you for fraud?

    Or what if the doctor doesn’t think its any of his/her business to ask and performs an abortion without asking if you’ve told the putative father can dad sue the doctor? Can he sue you?

    Or what if you tell whom you think is the father that your going to get the suck job done, but it turns out that you are just a big slut and its the get of some other that you are carrying, can the uninformed father, who somehow discovers that you aborted his seed sue you? What if the putative father in this scenario, who is actually not the father but thinks he is because you informed him, is so distraught over the prospect of his offspring being aborted that he suffers extreme emotional upset, can he sue you?

    What if he impregnates you, but dies in a horrible accident on his way home, do you have to inform the executor of his estate?

    What if you are really drunk at a party and hook up with a guy whose name you don’t know and you get pregnant and you have an abortion, but only find out his name afterwards?

    Or what if he porks you under an alias?

    Or does the law make it criminal not to inform the father and does that mean that an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband with whom you have a tumultuous relationship have charges pressed against you for failing to inform him that you aborted his fetus?

    Just wondering?


  8. LE, You’re absolutely right. And if you read Rachel’s post, she outlines some of the more specific problems tied to the legislation, which make it even stupider.

  9. This afternoon I am going to work out a deal with my sterile, non-citizen lover. I’m willing to cash his winning lottery tickets for only a small percentage of the winnings, and in exchange, he’ll agree to pretend to be the informed father of my soon-to-be-aborted fetus. How will the state ever know in either case?

  10. Did you have to use the phrase “The Power of Sperm” in your title? Now I have a really sick version of one of those “Behold the Power of Cheese”, commercials stuck in my head.

  11. LE had some good questions, too. The whole thing is just too undefined. I’ve contacted my reps with my questions about the enforcement and implications; will update if I get a solid answer.

  12. I imagine here a woman who just left an abusive relationship prior to realizing she is pregnant. She is then forced by the state to have one more emotional encounter in which she gets sucked back into the relationship, but this time with a baby.

    I don’t like it.

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