Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Inform the "Spouse"

You know, abortion is one of those issues that there will be no winning on. If you are "anti-abortion" then the other side is "pro-abortion" which, of course, is ridiculous. If you are "pro-choice" then the other side wants to impose their beliefs on you, degrade your rights, and interfere with the doctor/patient relationship. There is no middle ground for either side here.

But it is the related issues that have the most interesting consequences. Take for instance the idea put forth in several state laws, most recently highlighted by Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, on spousal notification of abortion. Note the term "spouse" here. As Kevin Drum points out, just when does that mean a man has to inform his wife of her abortion? Can't think of an example, can ya?

But what if the man has HIV? We are still talking sex here. We are still talking a life altering decision. The state in question here, Pennsylvania, didn't think men had the same obligation:
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.

This is one is though provoking for me. Why should a man (or his doctor) not have to inform his "spouse" but a woman (and her doctor) should be required to do so by law?