More than half of women seeking care at family planning clinics report experiencing reproductive coercion. Motherhood is a demanding undertaking, and without the right support, can undermine a woman’s life and future. Motherhood also creates an attachment to the father, who can seek custody and attempt to remain in the mother’s life. Perhaps this is why abusive men are so eager to coerce women into motherhood. If you’re considering an abortion and you have an abusive partner, you may experience threats. Perhaps he’s told you he can stop you. Or maybe he’s threatened legal action if you have an abortion. So can your boyfriend sue you for having an abortion? No. Even in a post-Roe world, he doesn’t own your body.
Can my boyfriend sue me for having an abortion?
Although Roe v. Wade no longer enshrines abortion as a constitutional right, in states where abortion is allowed, the decision about whether to have an abortion belongs only to the pregnant person. This means the man cannot sue to stop the abortion–even if he lives in another state that makes abortion illegal.
In states that have declared fetuses to be persons, it might seem more complicated. But still, a father has no right to the baby until it is born, and therefore no right to sue the mother for having abortion.
A few states, most notably Texas, have enacted laws empowering private citizens to sue people who facilitate or perform illegal abortions. These laws don’t allow lawsuits against women to stop abortions–only suits against abortion providers or others who aid or abet abortions. And while they may seem scary, they have not yet been legally tested.
The future of abortion lawsuits
States have rapidly capitalized on the death of Roe v. Wade, and are likely to continue to do everything they can to put abortion out of reach. This may include additional laws making abortion a civilly actionable offense. So for people seeking abortions whose partners may be unsupportive, it will become more and more important to keep the pregnancy a secret.