Scott Bollig of Wakeeney, Kansas was recently charged with first-degree murder for lacing his girlfriend’s pancakes with a crushed, abortion-inducing drug and killing a eight to ten week-old fetus. Operation Rescue profiled this story last week to highlight yet another instance of the evils of abortion, with Troy Newman quoted as calling for prohibition of the online, sale and distribution of mifepristone.
You are probably expecting my two-cents on Kansas’ restrictive abortion laws or, alternatively, the glaring hypocrisy of charging Bollig with murder while letting abortion providers go scot-free (from a pro-life viewpoint). I would like to highlight two related concerns instead: on the one hand, a woman’s right to bodily autonomy (violated in this particular case) and, on the other hand, the scope of a man’s right to decide whether or not to become a parent- though the male birth control pill may balance things out in the near-future. The latter issue has not engendered much discussion outside of the MRA crowd.
The bodily autonomy and integrity of Bollig’s girlfriend, Naomi Abbott, was violated. Little has been said of this aspect of the case—besides a mention of bodily harm. Even with the dearth of details, we can assume that Abbott had every intention to carry the child to full term. So Bollig had no right to override her decision- regardless of whether or not she opted to carry the child to full term and raise it.
The overlooked aspect of the case is that Bollig did not and could not have had much of a say in the decision to continue the pregnancy, and that, of course, complicated his situation quite a bit.
The seemingly feasible alternative for a father not wanting a child is to cut off any ties or parental obligations to the child. The problem with this, of course, is that the state of Kansas would have come down on Bollig hard with the heavy-handed enforcement of Child Support laws. Even if he did not want anything to with the child, Bollig would have been forced to fulfill his financial obligations. The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, for example, metes out harsh financial penalties for refusing to fulfill one’s financial obligations to the child, especially if you reside in another state.
These laws diminish the capacity of adults to determine the obligations within their parental, marital, or domestic arrangements. Our discussion of reproductive and parental rights should also be about the freedom of contract. The contracts should be a bottom-up process with the state’s capacity limited to enforcement of those contracts (not determining the form and content of them). For example, a hetero couple can decide ahead of time that the man should not be able to opt out of parenthood, in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Another voluntary contract may allow the man to abdicate his parental responsibilities, whether or not the pregnancy was intended. The point is to make the reproductive rights of men comparable to the reproductive rights of women.