Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Child Support

Somebody mentioned something in one of my classes today about what she called the "male Roe"--a case that could be the male counterpart to Roe v. Wade.

The case details are something like: male made it very clear he didn't want a baby, woman has his baby, he doesn't want to pay child support for baby he did not want.

I don't really know how I feel about this except that I think that it's interesting. Granted, a woman's choice to have a baby or not has a lot more personal implications, but why shouldn't a man be able to choose whether he wants a child?

Once you say that for a woman the very act does not imply consent to have a child, why should it imply such for a man? And why, then, should a man have to pay child support for a baby he never chose to have?

Now, granted I'm playing devil's advocate here, but it's funny because the response in my class was that this case is stupid. Yet, if you takethe arguments to their liberal conclusions, I don't see why it's such a ridiculous case...

10 Comments:

At 3/29/06, 7:21 AM, Blogger yakki said...

"but why shouldn't a man be able to choose whether he wants a child?"

Didn't he make that decision when he took his pants off? Aleit he could have used a condom or couuld have been lied to by a woman "claiming" to be on birth control pills.

 
At 3/29/06, 9:48 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

First of all, please keep my blog clean. Second of all, didn't the woman make the same decision when she consented? Yet, Americans seem to think she should have the choice to take back that decision later on. I'm just saying that if women have the right to have sex and then three months later decide they don't want a baby, I'm not quite sure why men shouldn't have the same liberty.

 
At 3/29/06, 12:20 PM, Blogger StepIma said...

This case is just goofy.

There are tons of men who would love to get out of paying child support for children they "didn't want." Or who will go so far as to insist weren't even theirs, no matter what their girlfriends say. Not wanting the responsibility that comes after a casual sexual encounter, or a non-binding sexual relationship, or even a steady relationship which they aren't that committed to -- the man doesn't have to bear the baby physically, and can literally walk away any time. The ONLY tie he has to that child legally is financial. The only other tie is the moral tie of caring for that child as a father, which is imposed by society. Him saying "he doesn't want a child" is meaningless - he still gets to not have that child in his life in every sense of the word except in how it affects his wallet. If he was a loving man who cared about the child's welfare, he wouldn't be suing that he wanted to abort. "Why shouldn't a man have the right to terminate?" is a false question. It's an economic construct, not a moral one.

For a woman, choosing to have a baby means giving up your body, bearing most of the financial burden (child support payments never cover the full costs of raising a child while staying at home to nurture them, and rarely cover enough to pay for half the child's expenses while the mother seeks employment), the moral burden of raising that child, the emotional burden of facing society as a single mother - even though the stigma is gone, it makes it harder to date, harder to hang out with single friends, harder to work late hours... and much harder to finish school, if she is younger. It is an extremely difficult choice for a woman, to keep a baby that her partner doesn't want. And while a painful choice to abort, an extremely understandable one, in some cases.

On the other hand, it is an extremely easy thing for a man to say "no thank you." He has no emotional tie to the fetus (many women who choose to keep their baby do so because they believe it is a baby already, that it's a human being, and for the father to say kill it is murder in their minds). He saves money. He saves the guilt of society telling him he's not a "good enough" father for walking away. Most of all, he can leave the relationship with the girlfriend whenever he wants, the same way he could before the relationship started. A baby would be a tie to the woman forever. He wants sex without consequences, plain and simple.

I'm not sure what part of the first commenter's words made you ask them to "keep your blog clean" -- this is a sexually charged subject and this is a case that is entirely about sex. Sex HAS consequences. When you have sex without proper protection, there is a 100% chance that a baby could be conceived. If you go into a relationship thinking that it won't happen to you, you're not responsible enough to be having sex in the first place. In an ideal world sex happens within a marriage, with the idea being that it would be for the purpose of forming a family. Not sex only for the sake of children. But that children are a natural extension of being in that loving family. But if you're going to be in a sexual relationship, that's how it works. A woman is the one who gets pregnant, she gets to make the decision about what happens inside her womb, because she bears the greatest burden. If a man does not want the chance of being tied to that responsibility, he can put on a condom, get a vasectomy, get into a monogamous relationship with a woman who feels the same way that he does, or not have sex. It's that simple. He HAS options.

I have no sympathy for this case at all. All it is is another test case meant to chip away at Roe V. Wade from another direction. That poor, poor man who doesn't want to be called daddy or pay child support. Sorry, I don't buy it. There isn't anything more to it than that.

 
At 3/29/06, 1:07 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

I have to agree with Eli7 here. The argument that the woman bears the greatest burden does not show why the man should not be granted the same right to terminate contact with a child he didnt want. If we allow women to abort and therefore not have responsiblity for the child, we should give the man the same option.

Both the man and the woman had other options, which included birth control. The fact that the man could have used a condom is just as relevant as the woman using birth control. We don't deny woman abortion rights because she could have prevented conception in the first place.

But realistically, the logic of Roe wouldn't support the conclusion that the man can make a financial clean break. Roe was premised on a right to privacy and bodily integrity, which obviously don't apply to the man.

It's an interesting question nevertheless.

 
At 3/29/06, 1:25 PM, Blogger yakki said...

"He has no emotional tie to the fetus"
Correction: He has LITTLE emotional tie

Eli7 you also ignore the fact that a man deciding he doesn't want a baby (and the mother disapproving) is not only taking away the mother's personal autonomy over her own body (it is another thing to discuss if this an abortion takes autonomy away from the fetus!!) but possibly causing psychological damage (which could take years to come to grips with), the mother might not be physically able to have an abortion in accordance with the man's wishes, this could promote a rather paternalistic view of a dominating/controlling man over a woman's body (as if women's bodies are Truly under the control of man), etc, etc

I thought about saying it as clean as I could - realize there are other ways to say this. The man has the decision to do what he does or not, this is no accident - we need to hold up to our actions. Yes the woman had the same choice, but even the Talmud teaches that the man is stronger in this case than the woman is. He has a responsibility/liberty to act maturely!

In a sense you're right that Americans are asking for a chance to take back a decision (in some cases..not all). We do this virtually every time we go to the doctor! Think of an ER filled with broken legs, gunshot wounds, food poisoning, etc. I might not agree with it in all cases, but in the meantime a woman has a right to her body -- and a man does not..he has a right to his body :)

 
At 3/29/06, 9:31 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

I'm not saying I agree with the case, I'm just saying I don't understand why women can sleep around, and then decide months later that they made a mistake and men cannot make the same decision. Yes, protection can be used by either person, but women get a second chance and men don't. And while I do understand that the implications of a pregnancy have a far greater effect on the woman, that does not really change the situation.

(Also, a woman can still put the baby up for adoption. After the actual pregnancy, the ramifications of parenthood are only hers if she wants them.)

 
At 3/30/06, 7:55 AM, Blogger yakki said...

Eli7 I'm no guru on this topic (and I'm told state law is different all over), but I imagine one of two things can happen:

1. The mother has the baby, the father doesn't claim it, the mother doesn't ask the court to make him give DNA, and the father is literally free of the child. There is his decision to say "hey I'm not dealing with this". At this point, yes the mother could also decide "me neither" and put the baby up for adoption. They essentially equally decide.

2. The mother has the baby, the father says "not mine", the court says "yes, DNA..", the father now pays child support but ALSO has a say in whether or not the baby will be put up for adoption. The mother doesn't have a free ride out - she can't put it up for adoption without his say. It has to be a joint decision.

Now we see that while in the earlier case where the man has a decision with his pants and the woman has a decision with the abortion.... here both parents can equally say "not mine" or say equally "yes mine, no wait I don't like this, lets set it up for adoption".

 
At 3/31/06, 6:39 AM, Blogger Josh said...

It seems like a valid case to me. Nobody is saying the father's rights will trump the right of the woman, but both had an equal say in creating it, and once you say that an abortion is not murder, then both parties should still retain an equal say in preserving/terminating the pregnancy. Part of the decision is understanding whether the mother will have to support the baby on her own or will have paternal support.

The larger issue relates to the historical context of paternal rights. Go back to the sexist past, where men worked and women didn't. To preserve this system, upon divorce, women were granted child support and alimony, so they could stay at home. Now, it seems feminists want to have their cake and eat it too. They claim an equal ability and responsibility for financial support of a family, but they don't want to give up the free check from paternal support. Similarly, custody decisions are still based on the precedent of a patrilineal society. The fact that feminists don't want to give up their advantage on abortive rights is understandable, but if the argument is premised on a) a fetus being defined as a non-living being, and b)a mother's right to assert whether she desires or is able to have a child, then I don't understand why this should prevent a father from making his choice as well. If the mother can say she can't financially or emotionally support a child in her life, and is allowed to reverse her earlier decision to get pregnant, than why can't the father say he doesn't want to support it either, and if the woman can't support it, she can abort it?

Of course this case would enable more men to walk away from their babies. Just like Roe vs. Wade enabled the same.

 
At 3/31/06, 11:18 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Actually Josh, (and this sorta ruins part of my argument as well) some of the pro-choice arguments grant life to the fetus. They say that it doesn't really matter whether or not the fetus is alive. Even if it is alive, it still doesn't have the right to take over the woman's body for nine months.

There's this crazy example that goes something like: you're kidnapped and attached to a famous violinist for nine months to give him some sort of blood transfusion. Now what? Are you morally allowed to disconnect yorself even if that means the death of the violininst?

And admittedly, this rationale would never allow the man to have a choice in abortion, but it also indicates that the woman did not have a choice in her pregnancy and consensual sex without protection is hardly equivalent to being kidnapped...

 
At 3/5/13, 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

its a double standard, and it exposes contradictions in a surprisingly high number of prochoicers. i am 100% prochoice, and holding a man responsible for the woman's body and the woman's choice makes 0 sense.

 

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