This Date in UCSF History: Abortion Rights of Women Upheld

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Originally published in Synapse on May 18, 1973. A man does not have the right to stop his lover from having an abortion, a three-judge Florida appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Judges Gerald Mager and Spencer C. Cross and Acting Chief Judge James H. Walden of the 4th District Court of Appeals made the ruling yesterday in a suit by an Orlando man to stop his 19-year-old former girlfriend from obtaining an abortion. By court order, neither party was identified.

J. Chandler Muller and Melvin Pearlman, attorneys for the man, said that although the woman was free to have the abortion, they would take the case to the Florida Supreme court as a “question of law.”

They argued unsuccessfully that, since there was a mutual decision to conceive the child, there should be a mutual decision to abort it.

Attorneys also argued that the woman, now 12 weeks pregnant, abandoned her role as a parent when she decided to get an abortion and the would-be father had a right to stop it.

But the appeals panel pointed to a January decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that “any interests that a natural father may have, whether married or unmarried, would certainly be subservient to the health of the pregnant woman and the potentiality of human life,” and noted that under Florida law the consent of an unmarried father in an abortion is not required.