Father's OK needed for abortions in Missouri bill - KCTV5

Father's OK needed for abortions in Missouri bill

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A bill filed this month would require pregnant women to get permission from the father before having an abortion except in cases of incest and what the Missouri Republican who sponsored the legislation called "legitimate rape."

If passed, state Rep. Rick Brattin's bill would require women to obtain notarized written permission from the father to terminate a pregnancy. The mandate would be waived for rape and incest.

"I think it's wrong that one person has the ultimate say in the life of a human being when there are two involved in the making of it," the father of five children told KCTV5.

An identical bill by the Harrisonville lawmaker died in committee last session.

"Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it," Brattin told Mother Jones in a statement that drew criticism from state Democrats. "So you couldn't just go and say, 'Oh yeah, I was raped,' and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape."

Brattin's comments led to comparisons to former Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who said in 2012 that women's bodies have ways of not becoming pregnant from what he called "legitimate rape."

Brattin told The Associated Press that his statement to Mother Jones referred to what is defined in state law as rape.

"What I was trying to explain is whatever is considered by statute to be a rape should apply in this," he said. "I'm not going Akin here and trying to redefine what it is and all that kind of garbage."

The bill is one of several introduced year after year that deal with abortion, and many never garner enough support to become law.

Still, the Republican-led General Assembly in September overrode a veto by the governor to enact 72-hour waiting periods for an abortion, which is one of the nation's longest and has no exceptions for rape and incest.

In a telephone interview with KCTV5, Brattin explained his motives.

"I think if a measure such as abortion is going to be done, then it should involve both parties that came together and conceived that child," he said. "Should the mother have unilateral control of the life or death of the child? I say, 'Absolutely not.'"

Sean Nicholson, the executive director of the progressive advocacy group Progress Missouri, said the bill likely is aimed at drumming up support and fundraising.

Nicholson said a woman might be unable to contact the man who impregnated her, and Democratic state Rep. Stacey Newman of St. Louis said Brattin's bill would put women in abusive relationships at risk.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who defeated Akin for the Senate seat, said the time necessary for criminal prosecution of rape would prevent many women from getting abortions.

"This is just a back-door way to eliminate any rape exception, unless the survivor gets a permission slip from her rapist," McCaskill said in a written statement. She called the bill "offensive and absurd."

Brattin said the bill aims to prevent women from using abortions as a form of contraception.

"I think it's wrong that one person has the ultimate say in the life of a human being when there are two involved in the making of it," the conservative said. "The ultimate life in jeopardy is the baby's. It is the baby that will suffer in death as a result of an abortion. . . . The baby is always left out of the equation."

He maintains that was motivated in part by male friends whose partners had abortions without notifying them first. He said fathers shouldn't lose their rights and have no say in whether their child receives a death sentence.

"If you have a father that wants to be a part of that child's life, then he should have that right," Brattin said. "There are numerous men out there who want that role (to support their child in every way) and will take on that role. That's what this bill does. It gives them a say so whether they get to keep their child or not."

Planned Parenthood leaders denounced the proposal, saying it is up to a woman to decide whether to have a baby or terminate the pregnancy.

"My immediate reaction was this is just demeaning and degrading to women," said Laura McQuade, president and CEO of the Kansas City area Planned Parenthood. "We at Planned Parenthood trust women to make the decisions for themselves. . . This is outrageous. It's extreme. It has no healthcare benefit. It has no rights-based benefit."

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