What Rights Does a Father of an Unborn Child Have?

Updated April 17, 2017

Fathers have many responsibilities to their unborn children, but they have few rights until after the birth of the child. Pregnant mothers retain most of the decision-making rights about the unborn child, as these issues may immediately affect her health and well-being.

Confirmation of Paternity

Fathers of unborn children have the right to confirm paternity. Blood test matching or a more costly DNA test can confirm the paternity of an unborn child or infant. Some states expect the father to wait until after the child's birth to confirm paternity.


In many states, and in some countries like England and Wales, the woman's body includes the foetus, and fathers have no rights over the decision to perform or not perform an abortion.

Child Abuse

Some states allow the father to press charges against the mother if she is doing things that can harm the foetus. Drinking, drugs and other activities could be considered behaviour that harms unborn children.


Marriage changes the rights and responsibilities in many states. Unmarried men have fewer rights than those who are married to a pregnant woman. Unmarried men generally must go before a judge to gain custody or partial custody of a child, but only after the birth of a child.

Custody Orders

Once a custody order has been made by a judge or court of law, the father must obey the decision or be found in contempt of court.

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About the Author

Jessica Alzarana has a Bachelor of Music in music composition from the University of North Texas and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in music therapy from Texas Woman's University. Alzarana essays have been published by UNICEF State of the World Children's Report & BootsNAll.