Harming Fathers: How the Family Court System Forces Men to Regulate Pregnancy

NAPW's groundbreaking report Harming Fathers: How the Family Court System Forces Men to Regulate Pregnancy analyzes and documents dozens of cases across the country in which men have been labeled as abusive or neglectful — even losing access to their children — for failing to control the behavior of women during their pregnancies.

This is the first time an analysis of the topic has been undertaken. The report identifies 56 cases in 14 states where a prospective father’s lack of control over a pregnant person, usually the pregnant person's drug or alcohol use, was found to constitute civil child abuse or neglect on his part. This represents state-mandated patriarchal control unprecedented in recent U.S. history and more aligned with a time when women were first the property of their fathers and then their husbands.

Notably, NAPW documented the most cases in New York, followed by Texas. The cases demonstrate judicial overreach and the destructive forces in the family regulation system across the country. In fact, many of the decisions resulted in family separation and the termination of fathers’ parental rights; in some circumstances, even creating orphans in the process or allowing adoptions to proceed against the men’s wishes.

In addition to case analysis, Harming Fathers offers family defense attorneys guidance on presenting both factual and legal challenges to these types of cases. In a post-Roe world, more men will also feel the impact of state control over pregnant people. Reproductive justice is also a men's issue.

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