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: