Does a woman contemplating abortion owe any notice to the father of the baby?

This is more of a moral question than a legal one. Assuming a non-abusive relationship where the partners are together and in good health, and the pending baby is in the first or second trimester, and the probability that the baby could be safely and healthily delivered is very high.

If in that scenario, for whatever confluence of reasons, the pregnant woman decides a baby is not in her plans and decides to have an abortion, does she have any moral duty to notify the biological father regarding her plans?

Nope. Her body doesn’t concern him. It only becomes his business if there is a live birth.

As with everything, it’s a case by case basis. If my wife of seven years now gets pregnant and decides to have an abortion, I think that she damn well has a moral (though not a legal) obligation to tell me; though I wouldn’t suggest for a second that I have any standing to demand that she change her mind. I just think that we have an obligation, as a couple, to discuss it. If a woman in a noncommitted relationship gets pregnant, I see no reason that she has any obligation, moral or otherwise, to tell the father. If she sees reason to not tell him, she’s in a better position to make that call than anyone else.


People in a relationship owe each other to speak of all decisions that will have a large influence on them both. Abortion more than others, but neither would it be fair if the one partner suddenly decided, without consulting the other, to buy an expensive house or to move to Ethiopia or to have a sex-change operation etc.

The body of my beloved does concern me, just as my body concerns her. It would be a bizarre sexual relationship if it were otherwise.

Moreover, the chance that I could become a father does concern me. If she decides to stop taking birth control pills, that concerns me. If she decides to start taking contraception, that concerns me.

The bodies of other people, men and women, don’t concern me; but when I’m in a relationship, we share concerns about one another’s bodies.

It would be an intense betrayal if one partner hides this from the other.


Morally, yes. Legally, no. IMHO, of course.

It would be very odd for a woman not to inform the father of a decision to have an abortion, barring unusual mitigating factors like abuse, rape or incest. She should inform him what she’s doing.

I would not support a law demanding such, however. Such a thing would be unworkable for a number of reasons. Just because something is wrong, doesn’t mean we need a law against it.

A man is not affected in any way if a woman he has slept with gets an abortion, especially if he never knows about it.

If the situations are reversed, and it’s the man who decides he doesn’t want this healthy baby, so he deserts the mother without a word, that would be immoral (in my opinion) so I have to say that the mother does owe the father of the child at least notice before the fact.

I believe in most cases she should inform the father of the child.
The father could be required to pay and he might be interested in the child and its welfare. As long as male are required to support a child, they should at least of some input in the ending of a fetus.
Of course ultimately it still needs to be the mother’s choice. I could also see not telling the father if he is rabidly anti-abortion as this might result in a frightening scenario for the mother.


This is a ridiculous analogy. A woman who terminates a pregnancy does not leave someone else with the physical and financial burdens of that pregnancy. A man is not affected in any manner at all if a woman gets an abortion.

I disagree. If my wife has an abortion and doesn’t tell me about it (and I do find out) that would tell me quite a bit about what my wife thinks of me; that for some reason she couldn’t discuss that issue with me. Our relationship would essentially be over, because I would know that she doesn’t trust me to reasonably discuss an important issue. And, I’ve earned that right by reasonably discussing important issues before.

And the issue of not finding out doesn’t change the morality of it in the least. I’m not morally allowed to do a lot of things just because I can get away with them. I can have a girlfriend on the side, and my wife is probably not affected by it if she doesn’t know, but just because I can do it and not tell her about it, doesn’t make it morally acceptable in my relationship.

It seems to me that keeping the information to herself would be the kinder thing to do, unless she is 100% positive that he will agree with her decision. He is powerless in this situation, and the knowledge that he has “lost” a child can be very painful, so why place the burden of that pain on him? If it is to truely be her decision, let the pain be hers alone as well.

In the scenario you describe in the OP, if this is a normal, happy marriage, then if the wife doesn’t tell, she has betrayed the trust in the relationship. This is a very important decision that needs both partners to conclude. If as you describe, there’s no reason this couple would not want to have this baby except for a whim of the mother’s, then her partner needs to be notified.

Could he prevent her? Probably not. But if she wants to stay married she won’t betray her husband’s trust.

Suppose that you have both decided to have a family. You think she’s tryiing to get pregnant-- that’s what she told you. She knows you want kids, but gets an abortion anyway. Somehow you find out later what happened. You wouldn’t feel betrayed? You ask her if it’s true and she just says she changed her mind about kids. Would you say: I respect your decision since it’s your body and does not concern me.

I agree that in the ideal case a woman has a moral responsibility to inform her partner and give him input into the decision, although she also has an absolute right to abort over his objections. Of course, there are a very many cases that are far from ideal, such as if there’s reason to think the woman’s partner will abuse her, prevent her from getting the abortion, exercise undue influence, etc.

I do not believe that this should be legislated.

Didn’t we just do this?


Yes, we did:

–Cliffy, again

She shouldn’t tell the father because she wants or requires input. She should tell the father because he deserves to know if the person with whom he is having sex is on the same page he is, sexually and reproductively.

Say a couple were thinking about getting married. The man wants children. The woman doesn’t. She lies and says she wants children. Is that acceptable? I say it isn’t.

Even if it’s just a matter of the woman saying, “If I were to get pregnant now, I would have an abortion. I wouldn’t seek your input.” It’s an important thing for both halves of the couple to know.

I wasn’t aware of that one, but it seems to be more all encompassing re the mans entire “bundle” of rights in the case of a unilateral decision to abort by the woman. In this thread, per my OP, I’m really more specifically interested in the question of whether she owes him the notice of her intent, not what the entire scope of his rights or remedies are.

Certainly for the good of the relationship she should tell him. What’s more, I’m sure that in most cases the women does inform the father. If she doesn’t, then presumably she has a reason. Since there are in fact numerous conceivable good reasons not to tell a father about the pregnancy, and I trust the women involved to make that choice more then a judge, it certainly shouldn’t be legally required.

Also, doesn’t the idea of a women having to show the Dr a signed letter from her husband saying that he was informed have kind of a creepy, “a women is subservant to her husband” 18th century vibe to it?

Legally? Of course not. Morally? With one exception that comes to mind, I think so.

The only ‘out’ I can see for the woman not telling her SO is if they have previously agreed that they will not have children. In that case, I figure there’s unspoken consent on the part of the man that she can everything within her power to prevent children, abortion included. I’d still be uncomfortable with it being a secret, though, if only for the other implications it might have.