November 9, 2010

Young Pro-Life Father Nearly Lost Son to Abortion: Says Fathers Have No Legal Rights

     Joseph Lee protests abortion in Dublin this past weekend.
Joseph Lee, who serves as the development officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Scotland, is the father of a four-year-old boy. But he almost lost his son just over four years ago, thanks to the fact that Britain's abortion laws do not allow men to be taken into account in abortion decisions.

Lee told his painful story to at a conference this weekend in Dublin.

At 22, Lee's girlfriend became pregnant and intended to abort. Despite the fact that he wanted to have the child and believed that abortion was morally wrong, he found himself with no legal recourse whatever to save the life of his unborn child.

Without anywhere to go for help, the only option left for Lee was prayer. 
Twice since the passage of the 1967 Abortion Act men have tried and failed in the courts to protect their children from abortion. Lee had studied the law and knew "there was no question of me going to a lawyer."

"I knew that would be completely fruitless. So I knew that all I could do really was, first pray about it, and try to persuade her to keep the baby. It was very frustrating."

Lee's mother had been involved in the pro-life movement, "So I knew I was completely against abortion in all cases," he said. "But I'd never been challenged on it and never done anything about it. So my girlfriend was going to have an abortion and I just couldn't face it, regardless of the fact that I was only 22, and I couldn't even look after myself, let alone another person.

"So I tried to persuade her to not to, but she went ahead and booked an appointment."

Lee says he is convinced that it was only by the power of prayer that the nurse at the abortion facility showed his girlfriend the ultrasound scan. In abortion facilities around the world, an ultrasound is normally required to determine the gestational age of the child to decide which abortion method to use. But women are routinely denied the sight of their unborn children in case it should influence them against abortion.

As has happened to so many other women, once Lee's girlfriend saw the ultrasound, she realized she couldn't go through with the abortion.

"I remember a phone call when she said that she didn't go through with the abortion that day, and that she saw our child on the scan, looking quite happy, swimming about. She said it just looked like a wee person.

"I remember thinking, 'That's because it is a person'."

He relates that the nurse offering the RU-486 "medical" abortion pill said, "I'm not happy giving you this unless you're 100 per cent sure."

"And obviously she wasn't 100 per cent sure because I was doing everything I possibly could to persuade her to keep the child.

"I didn't realize this at the time, but I found out later that she'd sat with a friend who'd used the abortion pill, so maybe that was something that influenced her decision. That can't have been a pleasant evening."

Lee pointed out that "it's very rare" to see anything written about the rights of the father in the abortion debate.

"Even in pro-life circles … abortion lobbyists are focused on women's rights," he said. "Pro-lifers tend to rightly focus on the child. Most counselors focus on the woman, but there's nothing really that focuses on the father."

Asked if there is anyone doing any kind of legal work on behalf of men in this situation, Joseph replied, "Not that I'm aware of, no."

"It shows that the pro-abortion side has been very successful in making it exclusively a women's issue. Which is completely ridiculous, because I've seen from my own experience that women are far more likely to have the abortion if the man's not involved."

He pointed out that abortion laws isolate women. Even if a woman is not being pressured to have an abortion, without the father involved she has no support: "If the guy says, 'You're on your own,' that's what puts pressure on her and gives her the feeling that she has to have the abortion.

"It's a complete lie to suggest that women should depend only on themselves to make the decision. There's no harm in admitting that sometimes she needs the advice and support of other people.

"Abortion is one of the most horrendous decisions anyone is ever going to make, and to have to make it on your own is a very scary thing."

Men get the short end of the legal stick, whether they want to be fathers or not, said Lee, who argues that legal abortion has given men the excuse to "walk away" from the mothers of their children. "It legitimizes men not having a part [in child rearing] and being able to abandon them. They will expect women to have an abortion.

"There's a contradiction when a man is looked down upon if he's not going to be there when his child is born, yet he's told he has no part to play in this whole thing.

"He's vilified for not playing a part in the child's life, for not supporting him, whereas that's positively encouraged from the very start of the child's life. So it isn't a surprise that we see men abandoning children." 

He added, "I know we're not supposed to judge people, but I really think that what a man does in relation to his children is a way in which we can sort of measure if he's a real man or not. Because if a man abandons his own child, then he's not a real man in my eyes." 

Hilary White
Publish Date: November 8, 2010