Wednesday, November 2


Garance Franke-Ruta over at TAPPED does a little digging and discovers that Pennsylvania lawmakers during the time of Casey deemed it necessary that a wife notify her husband before having an abortion but not that an HIV-infected husband notify his wife of the fact. What does such an attitude reveal, that a man could have his secrets (even deadly ones) but a wife better not keep anything from him? Hm, maybe that a woman and her womb are the property of her husband to dispose of as he wills?

Notice that there is no state demand that a man inform his wife that she may be at risk of contracting a deadly disease from him. He is asked to do so as a matter of decency, and there is an option for physicians to intervene to inform the wife if it seems likely the man will not do so. But in situations where the husband (or other sexual partner) chooses to lie to the physician about his intentions, the state holds both the man and the physician blameless.

The overwhelmingly male legislators of the state of Pennsylvania thought it perfectly appropriate to intervene in a woman's marriage and deny her the freedom to make reproductive choices without coercion, threats, or worse from her husband. Judge Samuel Alito agreed with those legislators. And yet, should that same husband carry HIV, the state would have left informing his wife of this fact to his discretion, and would require from him no proof or signed affirmation that he had, in fact, informed her.

The only commonality in the state's approach to these two (admittedly different) scenarios was, in each instance, to effectively diminish the power of the female part of the couple to control her fate and what happens inside her own body.

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