Rick Brattin, a state representative in Missouri, filed a controversial new bill earlier this month that would require women to get the notarized consent of a fetus’ father before obtaining an abortion.
The bill will go before the state legislature next year, but a date hasn’t been scheduled.
Abortion has been a touchy issue for the state of Missouri. Women in Missouri already have to wait 72 hours before getting an abortion due to a restriction that was enacted in October. That’s the longest waiting period in the country. Every year, legislators try to further restrict the operations of the only abortion clinic in the state of Missouri, which is based in St. Louis.
The bill reads, “No abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the abortion.”
The bill itself is controversial because it would take the women’s choice to get an abortion out of her hands. In addition to that, Brattin’s statements to defend his bill made the situation even worse. The bill’s only exceptions to getting the father’s consent would be in cases of rape and incest.
But according to Brattin, the woman must prove it was a “legitimate rape.”
“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” he told Mother Jones. “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 then clarified his use of the term “legitimate rape” in an attempt to avoid the same fate as Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) who, in 2012, said that women couldn’t get pregnant from a “legitimate rape” because the body would “shut the whole thing down.”
“You have to take steps to show that you were raped… And I’d think you’d be able to prove that,” Brattin said.
Paula Gianino, president and CEO of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood, called Brattin’s comments outrageous. “It is a slap in the face to women because it implies that women don’t tell the truth about these horrendous acts of violence,” she told the Guardian. Planned Parenthood called on its supporters to contact Brattin in protest of the bill.
“This is a legislator who needs some education, and needs to hear from the public how outrageous his comments are,” Gianino said.
Brittan cited his experience signing a form to get his vasectomy done as his motivation for creating this bill.
“Here I was getting a normal procedure that has nothing to do with another human being’s life, and I needed to get a signed form,” he told Mother Jones. “But on ending a life, you don’t. I think that’s pretty twisted.”
Brittan’s argument is misplaced because there is no law in Missouri requiring a man to get permission from any other person in order to get a vasectomy. Some individual providers require a partner’s consent, but the Planned Parenthood in Missouri doesn’t, according to Mother Jones.
“This bill is insulting and a danger to women in abusive relationships,” M’Evie Mead, the director of statewide organizing for Missouri’s Planned Parenthood, told Mother Jones. “That’s very much our concern. But when it comes to abortion, Missouri legislators are always trying to outdo each other.”