Jul

29

2013

Joe Carter|9:07 AM CT

What You Should Know About 'Abortion Contracts'

The Concept: Relationship contracts with "lifestyle clauses"—which outline such criteria as weight requirements between partners, consequences for infidelity, and even guidelines about the frequency of sex—have been gaining in popularity over the past past few years. Generally, these documents are part of pre- and postnuptial agreements. But as marriage rates decline, such agreements are being used more frequently in non-marital relationships. Some are even including clauses stipulating a requirement to have an abortion in the event of an unplanned pregnancy.

The Background: As LIfeSiteNews and other media outlest report, while a rookie in the NBA, J.J. Redick purportedly signed a confidentiality agreement promising his ex-girlfriend Vanessa Lopez that if she would abort their baby, he would agree to date her for one year or pay her $25,000.

On September 13, 2007, he and the model signed a "Statement and Confidentiality Agreement" sketching their future relationship, and the future of their unborn child.

"Whereas LOPEZ has asserted she is pregnant, that REDICK is the putative father, and that LOPEZ has decided to terminate her pregnancy...once LOPEZ has terminated said pregnancy and has provided medical proof of said termination satisfactory to REDICK," the two "shall attempt to establish and maintain a social and/or dating relationship between themselves for a period of one year from the date of this agreement," said the agreement.

"In the event that the foregoing establishes that LOPEZ was either not pregnant or did not terminate the pregnancy, REDICK shall have no further obligations hereunder."

Despite the contract, Redick denies that he was the father of the child.

What It Means: The idea of being contractually obligated to get an abortion will strike most people as bizarre and repugnant. But as Emily Shire of The Week points out, "prenuptials were also initially irksome to many, and we've largely come to accept them as legal documents to guide the messiness of divorces and help prevent future fighting and emotional strife."

Shire adds that the "media backlash over the concept of an abortion contract may say more about people's inability to discuss sex and its potential outcomes with their partners than anything else." The reality is that the "media backlash" is only due to the "unromantic" nature of the contract. For instance, as Salon.com says, "Talking about sex may not be 'romantic,' it may even get 'bizarre,' and it usually doesn't involve the promise of a 25 grand payout and denial of paternity clause. But abortion happens. It happens to one in three of us, so let's talk about it."

I'll defer to the legal experts on the question of whether such contracts can be enforceable. But based on "pro-choice" logic, they certainly should be. If as the Supreme Court claims, women have an almost unrestricted right to choose to end their pregnancy, why should they not be legally obligated to get an abortion if they chose to enter into such a contract?

On the Overton Window scale, abortion contracts may only be in the first phase, shifting from "unthinkable" to "radical." But just as society grew accepting of prenuptial agreements (at least accepting of other couples having them) it is likely that abortion contracts may soon become more broadly accepted. As New York Magazine says, "The abortion contract may not be the most romantic concept in the world, but it has practical potential."

Related in this series:

What You Should Know About 'Monogamish' Relationships

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Articles of Interest
  • Jason

    In fairness, Redick's denial, via his Twitter account, should probably be included in this piece.

    https://twitter.com/JJRedick/status/360177332469776385
    https://twitter.com/JJRedick/status/360177439122530306
    https://twitter.com/JJRedick/status/360177539752275968
    https://twitter.com/JJRedick/status/360177633964724225

    Redick's Twitter bio lists him as a Christian, so my hope is that he's telling the truth now. Or, if lying now, that he's repented of the abortion contract clause.

    • http://thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

      He's denying that she ever aborted a child fathered by him, right? But not that he agreed to said contract in the event that she might become pregnant by him?

    • Joe Carter

      If Redick denies that he signed the contract I'd certainly point that out (and retract that claim). But as the contract states, Redick "denied and continued to deny" that he was the father. The contract merely states that they can continue to date once she has an abortion.

      • Jason

        You are correct. I just felt that it should be noted. It doesn't change what we should know about these things. I appreciate the post.

        • Joe Carter

          Ah, you're right. I thought that was in the quote I excerpted from LifeSiteNews. I added a sentence to clarify that he denies paternity. Thanks.

  • Simul Iustus et Peccator

    A POSSIBLE scenario: It’s possible to read this contract and TRAGEDY (the death of a child) not as a contract to pressure Lopez into an abortion but as a way to manager the fallout of a failed relationship.

    It’s a believable scenario that JJ was stalked by a former girlfriend who got pregnant by someone else and threatened his reputation in order to pressure him to stay with her or give her money.

    He was likely sleeping with her in college. He gets (or anticipates) a pro contract. He breaks up. Nothing unusual so far… so-called Christian athletes sleep with girlfriends all the time. Moreover real Christians often behave hypocritically, feel remorse, and end such relationships. But his reasons for breaking up are immaterial but as it turned out, it was a good decision.

    She’s hurt (she gave herself to him; he got rich; she got nothing). She got pregnant by someone else (claims JJ). She claims it is JJ's for 2 reasons: 1) She wants him back, and this is a way to get him back, make him obligated, or at least see him; 2) He has $ and she is in need and feels she “deserves” something.

    She threatens to abort "his" baby (I suspect she would've kept the baby if JJ came back to her and became "dad" to the child, perhaps marrying or at least staying in contact with her and supporting her and the child).

    He denies paternity. He had already broken up with her but knows if she aborts "his" baby there will be no way to prove he was not the father.

    But he refuses her pressure, denies he's the father. He has no intention of being dad to someone else's child with a woman he already broke up with. He talks with the team lawyer (who deals with this stuff all the time) and is advised to enter into a contract to make this nuisance go away.

    So JJ (foolishly) enters into a non-disparagement agreement which maintains no paternity and agrees to "date" her (she likely inserted the clause in the contract to maintain contact with JJ to try to win him back) for one year.

    JJ entered into the contract to keep her from disparaging him--which didn’t work. She’s now wide open to a suit, but doesn't care since her goal is to damage JJ, blaming him for her guilt in having an abortion.

  • Simul Iustus et Peccator

    A 2nd POSSBILE scenario (see above): Ms. Lopez became impregnated by her boyfriend Reddick who encouraged her to get an abortion.

    A lawyer worked out a way to avoid long-term financial obligation thru a sham post-abortion relationship and non-disparagement clause.

    In this scenario JJ is a self-centered slime ball hypocrite of the worst kind who put his reputation ahead of an innocent child and a woman whom he used and disposed of.

    [If she kept the child and proved JJ was the father, she could have sued for support and the child would have lived comfortably. If JJ's paternity was not proven, she could have put the child up for adoption.]

  • Pingback: How Enforceable are Abortion Contracts Between Couples ? - CATHOLIC FEAST - Every day is a Celebration

  • Clark

    If "abortion contracts" are not a sign that God's judgment is about to fall, than I don't know what is.

  • Phil

    If as the Supreme Court claims, women have an almost unrestricted right to choose to end their pregnancy, why should they not be legally obligated to get an abortion if they chose to enter into such a contract?

    Because you cannot contract away your rights. Just like I cannot contract to vote a certain way, or contract to be a slave, etc.

    • Joe Carter

      But that wouldn't require contracting away your rights. We can enter into contracts in which we limit the expression of our rights. I did so when I joined the military. Similarly, we don't give up our right to freedom of speech when we sign a contract saying that we will not disclose proprietary information at our company.

  • Phil

    But that wouldn't require contracting away your rights.

    Huh? That is exactly what a woman is doing. Contracting away her right to "privacy."

    We can enter into contracts in which we limit the expression of our rights. I did so when I joined the military.

    You contracting with the government is not the same as you contracting with another private party.

    Similarly, we don't give up our right to freedom of speech when we sign a contract saying that we will not disclose proprietary information at our company.

    No, because you don't have a constitutional right to say anything you want at any time. All freedom of speech does is protect you from government prohibiting your (political) speech.