Monday, March 13, 2006

"Roe v. Wade for men"

While South Dakota's Roe-testing abortion ban is in the news, also making some waves is the "Roe v. Wade for men" lawsuit filed by the National Center for Men.

The suit addresses the issue of male reproductive rights, contending that lack of such rights violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

The gist of the argument: If a pregnant woman can choose among abortion, adoption or raising a child, a man involved in an unintended pregnancy should have the choice of declining the financial responsibilities of fatherhood. The activists involved hope to spark discussion even if they lose.

"There's such a spectrum of choice that women have -- it's her body, her pregnancy and she has the ultimate right to make decisions," said Mel Feit, director of the men's center. "I'm trying to find a way for a man also to have some say over decisions that affect his life profoundly."

Feit's organization has been trying since the early 1990s to pursue such a lawsuit, and finally found a suitable plaintiff in Matt Dubay of Saginaw, Mich.

Dubay says he has been ordered to pay $500 a month in child support for a girl born last year to his ex-girlfriend. He contends that the woman knew he didn't want to have a child with her and assured him repeatedly that -- because of a physical condition -- she could not get pregnant.

...

State courts have ruled in the past that any inequity experienced by men like Dubay is outweighed by society's interest in ensuring that children get financial support from two parents. ...

Feit, however, says a fatherhood opt-out wouldn't necessarily impose higher costs on society or the mother. A woman who balked at abortion but felt she couldn't afford to raise a child could put the baby up for adoption, he said.

Jennifer Brown of the women's rights advocacy group Legal Momentum objected to the men's center comparing Dubay's lawsuit to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing a woman's right to have an abortion.

"Roe is based on an extreme intrusion by the government -- literally to force a woman to continue a pregnancy she doesn't want," Brown said. "There's nothing equivalent for men. They have the same ability as women to use contraception, to get sterilized."

Feit counters that the suit's reference to abortion rights is apt.

"Roe says a woman can choose to have intimacy and still have control over subsequent consequences," he said. "No one has ever asked a federal court if that means men should have some similar say."

"The problem is this is so politically incorrect," Feit added. "The public is still dealing with the pre-Roe ethic when it comes to men, that if a man fathers a child, he should accept responsibility."

Feit doesn't advocate an unlimited fatherhood opt-out; he proposes a brief period in which a man, after learning of an unintended pregnancy, could decline parental responsibilities if the relationship was one in which neither partner had desired a child.


Some discussion of the issue here, here, and here; and a particularly interesting two-part discussion by neo-neocon, to which I will return later.

Whatever the merit of Dubay's and the NCM's legal claim, I do think that the case illustrates rather strongly the unfairness to men of the current legal regime. With legal abortion, a woman who gets pregnant can get out of this situation with minimal consequences (unless you believe that an abortion is a profound trauma, which it does not seem to be for most women). For a man in his mid-20s to be ordered to pay $500 a month for the next 18 years -- and presumably more if his income increases -- is no trivial burden. It means a radically altered lifestyle, including seriously reduced opportunities to have a real family if he wants one.

I'm also struck by the attitude taken by feminists like Shakespeare's Sister, who says:

Men have plenty of “say” over this decision—but it all happens before the pregnancy. They have “say” over the women with whom they choose to have sex. They have “say” over whether they choose to discuss in depth with a partner what they would do in the case of an unintended pregnancy—and what their partners would do. They have “say” over whether they put a condom on.


I'm struck by it, of course, because it reminds me so much of what right-to-lifers tell women -- perhaps most pithily encapsulated in a photo I saw many years ago, in pre-Internet days, of an anti-abortion demonstrator (male) holding a placard that says, YOU HAVE A CHOICE: DON'T SCREW.

Shakespeare's Sister also says:

A man and a woman make a child together. If the man doesn’t want the child, he should be able to opt out of the responsibility, and the woman should be responsible. Of course, the flip side of this coin, which is left out of the article, is that men’s rights advocates also believe if a woman doesn’t want the child, she should be forced to be responsible to carry it to term at the man’s wishes. (In the latter case, this is usually referred to as “fathers’ rights,” although they like to leave any reference to “fatherhood” out of the discussion of the former, as in this case, where the child is not even referred to as his daughter; the use of language alone is informative as to how these men want it both ways.) You’ll notice in both cases, the woman is expected to be responsible—by allowing the father freedom from child support payments, by either getting an abortion or giving the child up for adoption if she can’t support the child on her own, or by not getting an abortion or giving up the child for adoption even if she doesn’t want a child but the father does. Funny how that works.

As far as I know, this is factually incorrect: the men's groups that support a paternal veto for abortion are distinct from those that support "choice for men." Unless Shakespeare's Sister can produce actual examples of men's rights advocates who support both, her statement is quite misleading. And by the way, under the present Roe regime, the reality is, precisely, the flip side of her sarcastic summary of the men's rights position: A man and a woman make a child together; if the woman doesn’t want the child, she should be able to opt out of the responsibility, but if a man doesn’t want the child, he should be forced to be responsible to support that child until adulthood at the woman’s wishes.

Neo-neocon takes a much less belligerent approach; but she, too, ends up coming down on the side of her present regime. Her basic conclusion: there is no good solution to this problem because of the basic reproductive asymmetry of men and women, and the present approach -- imperfect as it is -- may be the best there is. And she may be right about that, but I do think that she underestimates the unfairness of the current system toward men, and the extent to which it favors women rather than children.

In neo's words:

[T]his is where another overriding principle, the "best interests of the child" comes in. And this, once again, is because the child was not a party to that contract, and the child is the helpless result of the decisions of both these adults, and as such must be protected. It is in society's interests to protect that child--or so goes the argument--and to compel both parents to support that child financially until it reaches its majority.

But consider this: a single mother is not obligated to seek child support from the father. For instance, in 1999, according to the Census Bureau (warning: PDF file), 38% of all single mothers with minor children, and 52% of never-married mothers, did not have a legal child support award. Of the mothers without an award, nearly 40% said that they did not seek an award either because they didn't want the father to pay child support or because they didn't want the child to have contact with the father. (11% also said that paternity had not been established.) Under the law, the government can compel the mother to name the father, and seek child support from him against the mother's wishes, in one case only: if the mother applies for government welfare benefits. In other words, a mother's choice to have no contact or even potential contact with the father of her child cannot be overridden by societal interest in the child having support from both parents.

A single woman can also exercise her reproductive autonomy by going to a sperm bank, thus denying her child any chance of getting a penny from the man who supplied the DNA, and the government will do nothing to stop her. Sperm donors have long been protected by law from child support liability.

Also, in her comments, neo raises an interesting scenario:

[I]f the unwed father successfully stops a mother from giving a child away for adoption, she is compelled to pay him child support for that child (although she never wanted or expected to), and he is free to raise it.
As a factual matter, I'm not sure this is correct. Usually, the father is at a disadvantage in such lawsuits, and I wouldn't be surprised if he typically forfeited child support. At least, in cases I have followed in which the birth father contested an adoption, the mother's potential child support obligations never came up as an issue. Maybe some family law specialists can shed some light here?

As it happens, I wrote an article on men's reproductive rights for Salon.com six years ago, and I think its conclusion is still relevant here:

Given [biological] realities, it may be nearly impossible to come up with a solution that wouldn't be unfair either to men or to women. The current situation is clearly inequitable to men. But allow a veto for fathers, and it raises the disturbing specter of giving a man authority over a woman's body. Allow choice for men, and some will find it galling that a woman who wants to avoid the burden of parenthood has to undergo surgery or drug treatment with unpleasant side effects while a man merely fills out some forms.

The argument for at least notifying the prospective father of an abortion (with a waiver for cases in which the woman has a reasonable fear of bodily harm from the man, or the pregnancy results from rape), seems compelling. [Arthur] Shostak, co-author of "Men and Abortion," believes that a man should have an opportunity to "plead his case" to a woman if he wants her to have their baby.

There is also a strong case for providing some options for men to terminate their paternity. (At the very least, a woman who never bothered to let the man know that he was a daddy shouldn't be able to hit him up for back pay 10 or 15 years later.)

Of course, "choice for men" could have complications beyond the issue of children's economic welfare; for one, the man could later have a change of heart. While proposals for a "paper abortion" would make the procedure irrevocable, [men's rights advocate] Fred Hayward concedes that "it's a tough one," since sometimes the child could clearly benefit from reestablishing a relationship with the father.

[Melanie] McCulley [an attorney who advocates "choice for men"] believes that a quick, early paternity termination would be better for the child than long, traumatic and often ultimately unsuccessful battles to extract money from an unwilling father. More intriguing, some proponents of men's right to choose, such as Jack Kammer, author of the online book "If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules," argue that the option of declining fatherhood would make child abandonment less common.

"The notion of fatherhood as a trap, a burden, a yoke is strong in male culture," says Kammer. "By making fatherhood a choice, we will allow it to become an obligation freely taken, not to be resented or avoided."

And that, advocates for men say, is the real point -- not men's ability to control women or to desert children, but the ability to have input in decisions that profoundly affect their lives.

Maybe there is no good answer to the dilemma of male reproductive rights. Still, it is an issue that should prompt us to rethink some deeply held assumptions. It should make us realize that, if men who want a right to be released from their parental obligations seem callously egocentric to many people, that's how women who want abortion on demand look to many anti-abortion advocates. It should make us ponder the fact that, while paternal desertion is often cited as evidence of male irresponsibility and selfishness, more than a million American women every year walk away from the burdens of motherhood.

Above all, perhaps, the issue of men's reproductive autonomy brings home the fact that abortion can create a radical imbalance rather than equality between the sexes. For years, women have been sending a mixed message to men: Sometimes we expect them to be full partners in child-rearing, sometimes we treat them as little more than sperm donors, walking cash machines or bystanders. If men's parental role is to be taken seriously, women need to assume a moral, if not legal, obligation to involve their partners in any decision about pregnancy and we all need to have a serious conversation about men's reproductive rights -- no matter where that conversation may lead.

206 comments:

1 – 200 of 206   Newer›   Newest»
LiterateDog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LiterateDog said...

Ha! Why did I think deleting my post would let me edit it? I've not much sense.

I'll repost my comments later when I can rewrite 'em. For now, I'll just say that, as usual, I agree with you Cathy.

snowe said...

I'm conflicted over this issue. First of all, I think that you can't really compare abortion, which is about the right to bodily integrity, to "termination" of parental responsibility, which is about property rights. In this society, we privilege bodily rights over property rights; in most cases, a fine is a lesser punishment than a prison term. I do feel for men who have to deal with children they aren't ready to have; I wish that all single mothers could provide for their children without help. A lot of these problems could be solved by having more honest conversations about sex and birth control before intercourse, but we can't enforce that!

Revenant said...

Personally, I've never heard a convincing argument for legal abortion that doesn't double as an argument for letting men opt out.

The simple truth of the matter is that, in the current legal environment, the woman -- and ONLY the woman -- causes a child to come into the world. Men are never more than sperm donors, regardless of their actions or their relationship to the woman. We have no rights at all, and therefore should have no responsibilities.

As for "what's best for the child" -- well, how about "being born". Anyone here for an abortion ban?

Cal said...

It's never going to happen because family law is pretty much predicated on "where's the wallet"? Last I'd heard, a man can't even use a DNA test to prove he's not a father once the courts have found that he's the dad. The state wants the money, which means that it's not going to look kindly on any effort to deprive it of a ready source of funds.

Just a few years ago in--was it Wisconsin or Wyoming?--the Supreme Court threatened a man with jail time if he fathered any more kids. The joke, of course, is that they never threaten the mothers with jail time, even though they've got far more control. If they threatened mothers with jail, there'd be a screech about "forced" abortion.

There's no question it's unfair. Men and women can be equally irresponsible, but only women are allowed to opt out of parenthood--and if they choose parenthood, they can get the state to compel the father to pay. Alas, legally, abortion isn't "opting out" of parenthood, but a privacy right.

snowe said...

How would a termination of parental rights work? If it were analogous to abortion, than I suppose that the father would have the first two trimesters to make a decision. Would it be reversible or permanent?

Revenant said...

How would a termination of parental rights work? If it were analogous to abortion, than I suppose that the father would have the first two trimesters to make a decision. Would it be reversible or permanent?

It would make the most sense to allow it during whatever period abortions were legal.

As for whether it would be reversible, it is always possible to voluntarily assume MORE legal responsibility for a child, provided the existing guardians consent. So the answer would be "yes, if the mother agreed". But any stranger would have the same ability, subject to the same requirement that the mother consent. That's how step-parents work.

jw said...

There's a lot more to it. Since the law also reads that if a woman uses force to get pregnant, he is still the father and liable for child support; then the law actually reads that no male has any right at all to choose to be or not to be a father.

This is a real case from Canada: A 68 year old bed ridden man with a part time home visit nurse. She upped his meds and forced sex to bet pregnant. She did get pregnant. She also got a massive child support award.

He had zero say in whether or not he was going to have sex: He had zero say in whether or not he was going to be a father.

Now, according to the opposition to male reproductive rights, this is right, proper and fair.

So, what neo-con and the rest are actually arguing is that no male is human enough to be worthy of one of the basic human rights. That is, the right to choose to be or not to be a parent. This argument is a pro-slavery argument, not a medical argument.

I think that there should be a specific requirement in the law which goes like this:

-----------------
- Given that a male can show there is reasonable grounds to believe that a pregnancy is the result of HER violence, fraud or other criminal behavior:

A male is required to make one of the following choices:

- to assume full legal custody himself
- to place the baby up for adoption
- to appear bedfore a family law judge to plead other arrangements

In this the female has no rights nor say.
----------------

Something like that at any rate...

The idea is to remove the right of any female to use force and thius to partially level the field.

We also need to stop the current practice of not allowing research funds for male contraception. Males, given we have no reproductive rights have a greater need for contraception. Current government and foundation policy favors all monies going to females.

Ampersand said...

I'm struck by it, of course, because it reminds me so much of what right-to-lifers tell women -- perhaps most pithily encapsulated in a photo I saw many years ago, in pre-Internet days, of an anti-abortion demonstrator (male) holding a placard that says, YOU HAVE A CHOICE: DON'T SCREW.

So do you honestly think that men and women are identically situated when it comes to pregnancy? If you don't, I don't think the comparison is logical.

The moment a man gets pregnant, I will support a man's right to abort. But I don't believe for a second that preventing a child from being born and abandoning a born child are identical acts. And what C4M advocates want - the right to abandon their born children - is a right that no woman has.

More intriguing, some proponents of men's right to choose, such as Jack Kammer, author of the online book "If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules," argue that the option of declining fatherhood would make child abandonment less common.

Kammer is mistaken. The research on this question is very clear-cut; the less men are required to pay child support, the higher the rates of single motherhood. Anyone who favors "choice for men," but isn't willing to address the increase in single motherhood C4M would cause, is not dealing honestly with the consequences of their policy.

Decent guys will choose to be responsible for their children, regardless of what the law says. The question is what irresponsible guys will do. Cathy, do you honestly believe that if irresponsible men knew they would never have to face consequences if they sire children, they would therefore be more eager to use a condom?

In other words, a mother's choice to have no contact or even potential contact with the father of her child cannot be overridden by societal interest in the child having support from both parents.

It seems to me that what you just said proves the exact opposite. If the family needs support - i.e., has applied for welfare - then society will force the father to pay child support, whether the mother wants to or not.

At least, in cases I have followed in which the birth father contested an adoption, the mother's potential child support obligations never came up as an issue.

It certainly does happen some of the time; we have an order at my workplace to withhold child support payments from a female employee's paychecks.

According to the Census Bureau (pdf link), about 15% of people paying support for a child under 21 are women. About 55% of women paying child support are doing so under a child support agreement or court order, compared to 80% of men paying child support.

jw said...

ampersand: What you and the rest of the left & right never mention is a woman's right to use violence/crime to become pregnant in combination with the law which requires the man to pay child support even when he had not even the least choice in becoming a father.

All I have ever seen from the left or the right is the demand that men shouldn't be around women who are "like that." Which is the identical argument once used to blame women for being raped! Now, an argument defined as sexist if applied to a woman, is openly and proudly applied to men.

Ampersand said...

ampersand: What you and the rest of the left & right never mention is a woman's right to use violence/crime to become pregnant in combination with the law which requires the man to pay child support even when he had not even the least choice in becoming a father.

As I've said before, I'd favor an exception from child support for men who are victims of rape, or cases such as the woman who deliberately became pregnant by using the sperm from a condom after performing oral sex. However, I don't think these cases are nearly as common as some MRAs believe.

Cold Cut said...

"As I've said before, I'd favor an exception from child support for men who are victims of rape, or cases such as the woman who deliberately became pregnant by using the sperm from a condom after performing oral sex. However, I don't think these cases are nearly as common as some MRAs believe."

Oh how often it happens. Mabey not explicitly but there are those grey moments when women coarce men. I am thinking just recently my ex was telling me her best friend got pregnant with her boyfriend to guilt trip him into marrying her. Once he proposed she got an abortion. Would you also beleive she works for Child Welfare services as a social worker! I have seen a number of women in have known personally do this. If women have this extra advantage they are going to abuse it. Count on it.

Lori Heine said...

Let's face the facts here. Every time parents do not support their own offspring, everybody else ends up supporting them. I'm already supporting a whole passel of brats whose criminally-irresponsible parents won't support them, so I'm sick and tired of listening to a bunch of nasty, overgrown kids scream at each other about whether men are more victimized than women or vice versa. Lovely morals you heteros have.

Predictably, every woman who can't keep a boyfriend is going to side with the "We Hate Men" crowd and advocate making guys pay child support for kids they'll never even get to see. Either that or have abortions. A man isn't even allowed to advocate saving his baby's life -- but if he isn't willing to pay $500 a month for the next 18 years (if THE MOTHER opts not to have an abortion), then shame, shame, shame on him!

Not that men are exactly covering themselves with glory, either. What most mens' rights advocates seem to want is a return to the time when guys got a free pass to screw around and never needed to take responsibility for it. There is no way to artificially make this situation equitable in every sense. MEN. DO. NOT. HAVE. BABIES.
Some of the folks shooting their mouths off in this national cry-fest seem to have forgotten that very elementary fact.

We need a return to the practice of making parents (regardless of gender) pay for the kids they bring into the world. It defies not only reason but sanity to claim that men who CAN opt out of the responsibilities of fatherhood WON'T. But women shouldn't get to have it both ways. They can't whine about those awful, irresponsible men who won't commit if they themselves want the "right"
to murder their unborn children without allowing men the chance to save those babies' lives.

This whole mess is so ridiculous, I can't even believe it. We the taxpayers are subsidizing unprecedentedly trashy sexual behavior by taking it upon ourselves to support every unwanted brat. But the fact that I wish to commit to the woman I love and protect my most basic human rights is controversial!!!!!!

Every day, we are piously told to spay and neuter our dogs and cats. I propose a spay and neuter program for heterosexuals who can't keep their pants on.

Dustin Ridgeway said...

"Lovely morals you heteros have"

What are you? a different species?

Lori Heine said...

For your information, Dustin, I am somebody who isn't forcing you to work one day out of every two to support my kids because I can't figure out how to use birth control and refuse to support them myself. That's what "species" I belong to.

Instead of the current debate so fascinating America, as to whether I "chose" my sexual orientation, why do we not get back to discussing whether adults of EVERY sexual orientation (at least those who don't belong in an institution) should be capable of choosing to follow up responsibly on their own behavior -- especially when that behavior affects other people?

How, for example, does listening to their parents squabble over which one doesn't have to bother caring for them affect children? What are we doing to them? Most of the people I have heard sound off in this war of the worlds between Mars and Venus are so absorbed with themselves that they show no inclination to care. They don't want to begin thinking about the childhoods of their offspring because their own childhood must go on forever.

Since I don't know anybody here, I'm not necessarily commenting on the way anybody commenting here lives their life. There are plenty of folks out there willing to make all sorts of judgments and assumptions about my life without knowing me. But unlike a lot of people of EVERY orientation, I'm not going to cry "Ouch! No judgmentalism!" because I've had to learn that that's just the way life is.

I'm sure I come across sounding pretty judgmental, and there are those who think that being judgmental is one of the many things I shouldn't be allowed to do. But we're all making moral judgments here, because it requires a certain degree of judgmentalism even to discuss this issue. If we're going to impact other people's lives, they have every right to have an opinion about it.

We each have a right to an opinion about the begetting of children nobody seems to want. After all, each and every one of us is helping to support them. We can spay dogs and cats, but we can't spay people. I don't think it's too loony or callous to believe that this might be part of our problem.

Ilkka Kokkarinen said...

Ampersand: Cathy, do you honestly believe that if irresponsible men knew they would never have to face consequences if they sire children, they would therefore be more eager to use a condom?

That's funny: it's almost as if Ampersand believes that financial incentives affect the decisions that people make, so that if you subsidize (or as in this case, not penalize) something, you tend to get more of it.

I applaud such clearheaded thinking, but still have to point out that it hasn't been traditionally favoured by leftists in other issues, for example, the question of how generous the welfare payments to unwed and teenage mothers should be.

Richard Bennett said...

Ampersand says: And what C4M advocates want - the right to abandon their born children - is a right that no woman has.

This is a bald-faced lie, of course. Any mother can give any child up for adoption, and many do. And several states, California being one, have laws that allow mothers to bring infants to police stations or hospitals and give them up with no questions asked.

Why the lying, Amp?

W.B. Reeves said...

We can spay dogs and cats, but we can't spay people.

Lori,

Well, I feel rather foolish for having discussed libertarianism with you on another thread. Here you are advocating forced sterilization. Need it be pointed out that granting the Government this power is tantamount to giving them the authority to license parenthood? If the state can invade your body to tie your tubes or clip your testes, what can't it do?

Yes, I know you only want this done to "irresponsible heteros". Good luck with that. Most advocates of forced sterilization I know of would have plans for you as well.

I suppose we all have our own pet hate objects.

Revenant said...

What most mens' rights advocates seem to want is a return to the time when guys got a free pass to screw around and never needed to take responsibility for it.

That is obviously not true, because the social reality of today is quite different from the (largely mythical) time you refer to. Women today have access to cheap, safe abortions, and the social stigma attached to their situation is practically nonexistant. "Abandoning" a pregnant woman doesn't mean leaving her a social pariah stuck with raising a bastard, and hasn't for decades.

What advocates of "male abortion" want is an equalization of their rights and responsibilities with those of women, to reflect the fact that the once-asymmetrical biological realities no longer really apply. Giving birth is now strictly optional -- so why should the man's responsibilities be mandatory?

Lori Heine said...

W.B., I appreciate your insights. I guess you didn't realize I was being ironic. For the record, so you won't continue taking my sarcasm literally, I do NOT believe in forced sterilization. I was being a smart-ass.

Revenant, I am not on some one-dimensional other side of this issue from you. I think men and women are being pretty abominable to each other. It is, in my opinion, not a clear-cut case of one sex being totally right and the other being totally wrong. I have no desire to live on either Mars OR Venus. I'm kind of at home here on Earth.

I simply find the whole, pathetic spectacle fairly absurd. I usually dislike bringing up my sexuality on what is essentially a straight folks' blog, because then they get the impression that's all I care about, and that's not true.

Sometimes it is a good thing to hear a different perspective on an issue. Juxtaposed, in my point of view, alongside this nursery school mudball fight over which parent has the "right" to abandon a child, is the very real fact -- perhaps a crashing bore to you, but an inescapable concern for me -- that one of the reasons usually cited for the fact that my most basic human rights are under siege is "the protection of the children."

Pardon me for finding this odd and more than just a little sad. Some of the strangest accusations are being made, here, about what I supposedly mean. Now I'm being told I want to forcibly sterilize straight people. How bizarre.

All I'm really doing is trying to reintroduce into this discussion the interests of all those children who are supposedly so crucially important that they must be protected from me.

No wonder so many kids feel maladjusted and unloved when their parents treat them like burdens. Maybe I'm not the one from whom they need protection.

Just a thought...

Revenant said...

All I'm really doing is trying to reintroduce into this discussion the interests of all those children who are supposedly so crucially important that they must be protected from me

I think you're dragging too many of your own issues into this (especially your "lovely morals you heteros have" crack). I see no reason to defend the notion that children need to be "protected" from you or anyone else, because I haven't advocated it.

I don't think a fertilized egg is a human being yet. I truly don't, and I think most Americans (and virtually all pro-choice Americans) agree with me on that point. It eventually *becomes* a human being, of course. The thing is, only the mother gets a say in whether that eventuality comes to pass. Another way of saying is that both the man and the woman contribute to the creation of a fertilized egg, but only the woman actually creates a human being, with rights and privledges, from that egg. It simply makes no sense to me to make a person pay for a choice that wasn't theirs.

Is it better for the child to have forced child support payments from its father? Sure. It is also better for the child to not be hacked out of its mother's womb, but you don't hear too many pro-choice people endorsing that perspective when it is used as an argument for recriminalizing abortion. We are told that the mother's rights are paramount -- well, I have rights too, and I see no reason why the proper ranking goes "rights of the mother", then "rights of the child", then "rights of the father". The law is still set up around the anachronistic attitude that a pregnant woman is a victim of male lust.

Lori Heine said...

Revenant, you seem to have a few personal issues of your own cookin' on the back boiler.

In the words of a very nice old lady in a movie I recently saw, trying to respond quite mildly to a male tirade against the boundless evils of women, "Shall we all grow beards and leave town?"

If you go back to some of my previous comments on this thread, I think you will agree that I admitted some injustices presently exist against men. Might I remind you, however, that for untold thousands of years, the predominant order of priority was men first (always a constant), with women and children jockeying back and forth between second and third.

I don't expect anybody to get out a hanky and cry about it. It actually pays sort of an unconscious and backhanded compliment to the basic decency of women that men expect us to be so outraged on their behalf now that the tables have turned.

Some women are being pretty selfish right now. I'll bet it doesn't take untold thousands of years for more than a few others to notice that, and make some positive efforts to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

"I don't expect anybody to get out a hanky and cry about it. It actually pays sort of an unconscious and backhanded compliment to the basic decency of women that men expect us to be so outraged on their behalf now that the tables have turned."

You are actually going a long way to prove the point of the men's reproductive rights crowd. They claim that women don't want, and don't have equality with men but instead want and have superiority. So here you are arguing that women deserve superior reproductive rights as a form of vengeance against currently living men as representatives of men long dead. I don't think this is a long term winner of an argument for feminists to make, I think arguing that men and women are equal is more likely to work.

Revenant said...

Revenant, you seem to have a few personal issues of your own cookin' on the back boiler

None relating to this topic.

for untold thousands of years, the predominant order of priority was men first [etc, etc]

Since it is irrational to use past injustice to women to justify present injustice to men, I see no reason why your observation is relevant. When somebody invents a time machine and I suddenly find myself back in the distant past I will happily, upon my arrival, argue that women are being mistreated for the benefit of men. But while I'm hear in the present, where -- on this issue -- the reverse is true, I think I'll stick to criticizing the denial of men's rights.

It actually pays sort of an unconscious and backhanded compliment to the basic decency of women that men expect us to be so outraged on their behalf now that the tables have turned

Hm, I would say that it is a testament to your self-involvement that you personally consider yourself deserving of an apology for things that never happened to you.

It isn't like women come from the nation of Girloslovakia, cruelly oppressed by the neighboring nation of Boyistan. We each have an equal number of male and female ancestors, of which (until recent generations) half were severely oppressed for the benefit of the other half. The fact that you have two X chromosomes doesn't give you a special claim on that legacy. You didn't live it.

Some women are being pretty selfish right now. I'll bet it doesn't take untold thousands of years for more than a few others to notice that, and make some positive efforts to do something about it.

I'm not sure I can adequately express my contempt for your attitude without violating Cathy's play nice policy. Suffice it to say that your notion of gender guilt is no more rationally or morally justifiable than any of the other forms of collective guilt, be they racial, ethnic, or religious, that preceded them.

beenaround said...

Ampersand says:


And what C4M advocates want - the right to abandon their born children - is a right that no woman has.


Well, they have been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years (albeit without legal sanction), but then, even more men have, I would agree (and until recently, there have been few risks, except that their offspring might die).

If people can do something, they will. Perhaps we should design our social system to deal with reality.

Cathy Young said...

Thanks to everyone for a very interesting discussion.

Like many people, I'm conflicted on this issue; I recognize that we (rightly) privilege bodily rights over property rights, as snowe points out, and that the situation is therefore different.

I don't think it's possible to have a perfect equilibrium here. I do believe the current situation is unfair to men. I don't know what the solution is. By the way, that's also my answer to Ampersand: I made it quite clear in my post that of course men and women are not similarly situated with regard to pregnancy, and that it's therefore impossible to treat both the same.

Amp, regarding your statement:

And what C4M advocates want - the right to abandon their born children - is a right that no woman has.


I'm not going to accuse anyone of "lying" (and I'd like to ask Richard Bennett not to do so on my blog, either), but I do think that at the very least your statement wasn't clearly thought through. Because as Richard points out, not only can a woman put up her baby for adoption, but in a growing number of states/jurisdictions she can also leave it as a police station or a hospital, with no questions asked.

So yes, a woman has that right.

It seems to me that what you just said proves the exact opposite. If the family needs support - i.e., has applied for welfare - then society will force the father to pay child support, whether the mother wants to or not.

But in that case society is looking out for the interests of the taxpayer, not the child.

If a single mother and her child are living hand to mouth but not on welfare, no one is going to force the mother to collect child support or even identify the father -- despite the fact that she is condemning her child to an impoverished life.

In fact, a mother cannot be forced to identify the father even when the child might benefit from information about the father's medical history.

Also, I know that there are women who pay child support, of course. I was wondering if there actually any cases in which a single mother wanted to place the baby for adoption, the father contested the adoption and received custody, and then successfully sued the mother for child support.

Finally, interesting data about the correlation between child support enforcement and single parenthood rates. Do you believe that either men or women are sufficiently aware of how strict their state's child support enforcement policies are that this would affect their behavior? I wonder if correlation really equals causation here. Are there other factors involved? I.e., do states with stricter CS enforcement rate higher on other factors (such as educational levels) that correlate with lower rates of out-of-wedlock births?

beenaround said...

revenant says:


The simple truth of the matter is that, in the current legal environment, the woman -- and ONLY the woman -- causes a child to come into the world. Men are never more than sperm donors, regardless of their actions or their relationship to the woman. We have no rights at all, and therefore should have no responsibilities.


There are no simple truths!

The fact is that a man who gets a woman pregnant and then walks away is getting a free ride if she carries the fetus to term, gives birth and raises the child.

Of course, some women have few other choices if they want children, and in some cases they wouldn't dream of the aborting (I don't imagine that too many of the women Mick Jagger impregnated aborted). It all depends on whether you are a high-quality individual or not. That is, when you're hot, you're hot. When you're not, you don't have many choices.

Life's a bitch, then you die.

beenaround said...

Revenant says:


The thing is, only the mother gets a say in whether that eventuality comes to pass.


Hmmm, you know, I convinced my wife to have babies with my charming ways. I didn't have to hold a gun to her head. My actions demonstrated that I would stick around for a long time after they were born. That's a big part of what a pregnant woman wants, n'est pas?


Another way of saying is that both the man and the woman contribute to the creation of a fertilized egg, but only the woman actually creates a human being, with rights and privledges,


Actually, that's wrong. Women do not create a human being. They simply provide the plumbing (or environment) where the little suckers create them selves. Something to do with the DNA in the fertalized ovum and all that. It literally hijacks the mother's system to its own ends. (Note, I do understand that there is lots going on there.)

Of course, the mother is usually happy for that to happen.

But let's not propogate misinformation.

Cathy Young said...

Rev:

It isn't like women come from the nation of Girloslovakia, cruelly oppressed by the neighboring nation of Boyistan.

Bwahahahaha! You know, if I ever start giving out prizes on this blog for best line in the comments, I think this qualifies.

By the way, I have to say that I also find Lori's comments rather disturbing. Lori, I hope you are not making some kind of generalization about women being more decent than men? Actually, I would say that even in the baddest of the old patriarchal days, men who impregnated and abandoned women always incurred pretty strong disapproval (and often worse than that, from the male relatives of said women).

Revenant said...

The fact is that a man who gets a woman pregnant and then walks away is getting a free ride if she carries the fetus to term, gives birth and raises the child.

The term "free ride" is typically used to refer to getting something for nothing. The man in your scenario is getting nothing for nothing. How's that a free ride?

I suppose you could argue that the man is getting to pass along his genetic legacy, but so do sperm-bank donors, and we don't expect them to pay child support. Nor should we, as the woman is the one choosing to let the birth happen.

Hmmm, you know, I convinced my wife to have babies with my charming ways. I didn't have to hold a gun to her head

The choice was still hers, not yours. If she changed her mind later and aborted the fetus, you'd have no say in it -- in fact, she wouldn't even have to tell you she'd done it. If, after all your attempts to persuade her to keep the kid, she said "Nah", guess what -- you don't get to have a kid. If after all your attempts to convince her you couldn't afford and didn't want a kid she said "well, I do", guess what -- you're a dad despite your wishes. Any child that is born is born because SHE wanted it, not because you did. Maybe she wanted it *because* you wanted it, but nevertheless it is her wants and desires which are the deciding factor.

Women do not create a human being. They simply provide the plumbing (or environment) where the little suckers create them selves.

That's a semantic distinction with no particular relevance to my point.

Lori Heine said...

Let me eradicate some confusion here. I do not believe that either sex is morally superior to the other. I've attempted several times on this thread to explain that I don't see myself as simply playing on the girls' team against the boys'.

That having been said, I stand by the comments I made. How human beings have related to one another over history does tell us a few things about their character. We don't have to travel back in any time machines to know this.

It took thousands of years for the womens' movement to get going. I suppose you could point to the sex-boycotts of women in certain ancient Greek city-states, for the purpose of stopping wars, or other periodic female rebellions to refute this, but these little eruptions did not a womens' movement make.

How many years into the womens' movement did the mens' movement begin? We can measure the time not in millenia or centuries, but decades. Does that tell us anything about general differences between the sexes? I think it tells us it didn't take as long for at least some women to recognize that there were injustices against men as it seems to have taken the majority of men to realize that same thing about the lives of women.

Does this mean that all women should be romanticized as goddesses of virtue? Puhleeze. No, but it might tell us that women -- many of whom, like Cathy, seem to sympathize with the mens' movement -- are not altogether bad folks. All I'm saying is that there may be hope for us, and that the men who give up on us totally may be unduly pessimistic.

The current feminist movement is run by women who, by and large, seem to hate all men. They have done incalculable damage to relations between the sexes. Why do I find it increasingly difficult to consider myself a feminist? Because now I see how all that irrational hate looks from the receiving end.

Maybe that's what the men's righters are trying to do after all: show us how irrational shrillness sounds and vicious demonizing feels.

Truth be told, I have grown skeptical of either "movement." The professional grievance-mongers who run these outfits never seem to be satisfied. Many very sincere women AND men get sucked into the Grand Cause, but all that seems to happen is that the chasm between men and women gets wider and scarier.

beenaround said...

Lori Heine says:


I'm already supporting a whole passel of brats whose criminally-irresponsible parents won't support them, so I'm sick and tired of listening to a bunch of nasty, overgrown kids scream at each other about whether men are more victimized than women or vice versa.


Welcome to the real world of freeloaders.

See, a whole bunch of people have figured out how to make others improve their reporductive success.

Richard Bennett said...

Personally, I've never been an advocate of choice-for-men, even when I was up to the eyeballs in fathers' activism. This is an unfortunate issue because it's a distraction from the things that divorced and single fathers want and aren't getting today: an equal right to raise their children, child support and alimony set at rational levels, and the expectation by the court that women will behave as responsibly as men.

Biology and law combine to give women more say in the abortion decision than men, and children have the basic right to two parents, and state legislatures aren't eager to create more bastards, so the choice-for-men discussion is as pointless as a discussion about gender equity in the NFL.

I would submit that if child support were set appropriately - so that custodial parents had to make out-of-pocket contributions at the same level as non-custodial parents - this issue would go away. Existing law makes childbirth a profitable enterprise for single, middle-class mothers and that's not the way it should be.

Cathy Young said...

Lori, I don't see any men around here who are giving up on women, or saying that all women are bad people. :)

You say:

It took thousands of years for the womens' movement to get going. I suppose you could point to the sex-boycotts of women in certain ancient Greek city-states, for the purpose of stopping wars, or other periodic female rebellions to refute this, but these little eruptions did not a womens' movement make.

How many years into the womens' movement did the mens' movement begin? We can measure the time not in millenia or centuries, but decades. Does that tell us anything about general differences between the sexes? I think it tells us it didn't take as long for at least some women to recognize that there were injustices against men as it seems to have taken the majority of men to realize that same thing about the lives of women.


Well, I think that in a sense this is comparing apples and oranges.

During the millennia of male dominance, equality, in general, was not a highly prized societal value. The inequality of men and women was only one of many social inequalities of birth. Once the idea that "all men are created equal" at least in the sense of possessing the same basic rights came into being, the birth of feminism wasn't far behind; it was, incidentally, supported by many men. Today, equal rights are taken for granted and so we see the injustice quite readily.

Cathy Young said...

Oh, and in response to Richard:

Existing law makes childbirth a profitable enterprise for single, middle-class mothers and that's not the way it should be.

I really find that hard to believe, Richard. For it to be "profitable" for a woman to become a single mother and shake the man down for child support, he would have to be substantially wealthier than she is. This could work if the mother is a middle-class woman and the father is a millionaire, or if the mother is poor (and has no job opportunities) and the father is middle-class. But let's take the Dubay case: do you really think that a stipend of $500 a month is profitable enough for a middle-class woman to offset the expense of raising a child and the probable loss in earnings due to decreased ability to work? For a college-educated woman, being a mother and getting child support is not a very lucrative venture.

I think it's more accurate to say that the current law makes it easier for a woman who wants to be a mother -- but not necessarily to marry -- to exercise that choice. In other words: let's say that a 25-year-old professional woman gets pregnant and there is no prospect of her marrying the man (either she doesn't want to marry him or he doesn't want to marry her or neither of them wants to marry the other). She vacillates on whether or not to keep the baby; she would like to be a mother, but is also worried about the financial and lifestyle hardships she'll have to face. In this case, the knowledge that she will be able to collect $500 a month from the father may actually make a difference.

In other words, it's not an issue of having babies to extract money from men, but of wanting money from men to subsidize one's choice to have a baby (and raise it rather than put it up for adoption).

And I have to say that here, I sort of see the point of Karen DeCrow, the former head of the National Organization for Women (in the 1970s), who has written that "if a woman makes a unilateral decision to bring pregnancy to term, and the biological father does not, and cannot, share in this decision, he should not be liable for 21 years of support ... autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice."

But I also see that a "choice for men" provision would generate its own set of problems.

Revenant said...

Lori, you're can claim all you want that you don't believe in any inherent moral superiority on the part of women, but the language you're using shows that you do -- your remarks about the "basic decency" of women, your extended rhetoric about how patient and long-suffering women were compared to the quick-to-complain men, and your claim that women recognized the unjust treatment of men more quickly than men recognized the unjust treatment of women, for example. And lets not even get started on the "lovely morals you heteros have" crack.

So enough with the "I'm not saying women are superior, I'm just saying its interesting that we behave so much better than men did in our situation" routine, already. :)

jw said...

Ampersand: One case of female offender rape would be enough. That said, while female offender rape is fairly uncommon, coercion is quite common as is fraud. Don't forget Struckman-Johnson showed female coercion to be more common than male and no one has ever been able to prove her wrong, more than a few have tried.

The law as it stands says no male has the right to protection from a woman who demands he father her child. That is wrong ...

Generally, Just looking at the past:

- For the average of the English speaking world, there's about 80 years separating Joe Average getting the vote and Jane Average getting the vote. There were British men, who did not have the vote as young men, alive when women got the vote, not many of them, but there were two or three centenarians ...

- Most of us reading this were alive when the last man was sold as a pauper, 1962 Nova Scotia Canada, don't forget: Women were protected from that particular problem.

- It's highly likely that patriarchy arose in the west as a result of the bad behavior of the paleolithic matriarchy. We could probably get enough scholars to say "that is proven" for Egypt and quite probably for Britain.

A similar thing can be said for many of the native North American tribal setups which used the law that only women could choose who would be chief, medicine man, etc...

We shouldn't ever go down the path of one sex is better than the other: There's too much data showing that is stinking thinking.

Richard Bennett said...

Cathy says: For it to be "profitable" for a woman to become a single mother and shake the man down for child support, he would have to be substantially wealthier than she is.

A venture is profitable if the receipts are greater than the expenses. If you want to add potential earnings to the expenses, you're in a realm of speculation that posits that the woman who chooses the baby would otherwise be a real barn-burner in some profession. That may or may not be likely, but it's irrelevant to my assertion. Child support is set at levels that exceed a 50/50 split of the expenses. If pregnant single women expected to be out of pocket on the baby, fewer would opt for the single mother route.

It's not a real complicated point.

Wookie said...

A Really interesting discussion of what is a complicated issue.

It was interesting reading the comments in the links Cathy gave, it is amazing that this issue creats disagrement in most quarters, I have seen feminists agree and disagree, the same with MRA, the Left and the Right.

I personally never could imagine using choice for men as feel that any child I create is my responciblity. But in theroy I agree with the choice for men advocates, and feel that there arguements a rational and just.

Points in the various discussion I have read that have hit home are as follows:

If this is a discussion about the retrictions of biology, and that because of biology women should have the final say and the man should have to suck it up and "Be a Real Man", you could argue that biology has made it that a man can just abondon the woman and possible child, as once he has done the deed he can just walk away, and it curerently takes government and moral intervention to stop this happening.

Also on the point of biology, if we take the opinion on this issue of tuff shit guy's women get the final say as that's biology, would women like this reasoning being used in relation to employment, should employers say when a women gets pregnant, sorry love we will not keep the job open for you, sorry thats just biology!

My other point is to those that feel that the C4M movement will damage abortion rights for women. This is simply not true, infact they are problerbly your closes ally, as with the removal of abortion rights, their arguement collapse. They need abortion rights to exist for there postion to be valid.

It's a tricky subject, if it was introduced, it would need restrictions and protections, and to be honest I personally would not think much of a guy that went down this route, but I would support his right to do it.

Finally, a lot of this could be solved as others have said with a male pill.

Anonymous said...

The term "free ride" is typically used to refer to getting something for nothing. The man in your scenario is getting nothing for nothing. How's that a free ride?

Because he is getting sex with no consequences. No birth control is foolproof. Pregnancy is always a potential outcome regardless of the precautions taken. Further, abortion is a surgical procedure that can have serious complications, including sterility. Further, even when a woman is pro-choice, abortion can be a difficult and painful choice.

Like Cathy, I personally have mixed feelings about the issue. I don't think there is any way to make the system fair to both. However, I would favor notifying the father when the woman is considering adoption or abortion. I would also favor prosecuting women who engage in male rape or fraud.

As a side note, Revenant, aren't you the guy in past threads who expressed the views that men and women are genetically different... that this is part of the evolutionary process... that men are genetically predisposed to seek multiple sexual partners and to avoid being involved in the care of their progeny? (Something we don't agree on.) Yet, you object to the law treating men as though this is their predisposition and insuring that, financially at least, they can't abandon their children? Do I understand this correctly?

Z

John Howard said...

Amazing that in Cathy's entire post, and in 40 comments, there is not one mention of marriage.

Men and women don't have reproductive rights at all. Only marriages have reproductive rights.

The biological reality is that all marriages are equal, they have one uterus and one brain (heh, oh, i guess there's three, when you include the ones in our heads) and are the best way to deal with the biological realities of the differences between men and women.

Marriage is not only the consent to have children together, the binding of the financial responsibilites and the complete sharing of the money, and the license to have children together, it makes one flesh out of individuals.

And also, on the issue of forced support, I guess the idea is more to make the guy realize he has to pay one way or another and can't get out of it, more than to support the child, who as far as the child is concerned should be supported by the state, rather than by part the income of the distant bio dad.

John Howard said...

Amp: "That said, while female offender rape is fairly uncommon, coercion is quite common as is fraud."

Really, all unmarried sex is rape, because only the I Do made public on the alter is true consent to intercourse.

Lori Heine said...

I think Cathy may be right that people are now more concerned about equality. Let's look at at least one of the reasons that has come about.

Women in this country had a LOT to do with why slavery was abolished. This fact may be inconvenient to people like Revenant, but it happens to be true.

Jazzed by their success in helping do away with slavery, women got the uppity notion that they should be able to vote. Fifty-five years later, that finally came to pass.

I smell some egalitarian spirit here, and its name seems to be woman. All sorts of societal changes, in the direction of further equality, took place after women got the vote.

It oughtta be fairly obvious, by now, that I'm simply not going to back down about this. This commentary thread is an amusing microcosm of society overall. My opinion doesn't count because I'm gay and therefore not quite a real person (I'm bringing my own issues into it, which are somehow magically different from everybody else's), and we gals are all supposed to do triple-backflips to prove to the guys that we're being fair to them.

Sorry, I think I've shown that. I'm not going to cut myself and bleed all over the friggin' place to prove it to people like Revenant who don't want to see it anyway. I think it's high time women developed some sort of a sense of pride and self-respect.
Men would very quickly have recognized that this is grovelling, and it's shameful. I would never, incidentally, expect such a thing of them.

Incidentally, where are all those children we were talking about before? Remember them? Where have they gone? Oh well, I guess this never was really about the well-being of children in the first place. It's all about US, isn't it?

And some time back, somebody on this thread had the nerve to say that I am wrapped up in myself.

It might be helpful to note that half of the kids are eventually (should they survive their increasingly-precarious childhood) going to grow up to be men. Why so many men believe it is one-dimensionally a mens' rights issue to be able to ditch them is every iota as loopy as the notion that it's somehow a womens' rights concern that we women can do the same thing.

beenaround said...

Revenant says:


The term "free ride" is typically used to refer to getting something for nothing. The man in your scenario is getting nothing for nothing. How's that a free ride?


You seem confused about the function of life and indeed sex.

In the situation I outlined the man gets offspring, one that has a reasonable chance, although perhaps not the best, of surviving to reproductive age.

He didn't have to do very much at all. Hell, my bio father did it, and he now has grandchildren, and my mother paid the price.

Given the cost to a woman of raising a child by her self (which can include death), you can expect them to be very sensitive to the likely intentions of their partners, and you can expect the existing crop of women to be very good at divining the intentions of men, given the continued existence of men over time who were prepared to walk away. Perhaps its not even that. Perhaps its simply the fact that any woman who wants to can have sex, given the nature of men, and, unless she is too old, if she has any doubts, she is probably better off to abort and wait for someone better.

Males and females are in a sexual arms race since we require each other for reproduction.

Cal said...

"Amazing that in Cathy's entire post, and in 40 comments, there is not one mention of marriage."

Until relatively recently, women who had sex out of wedlock were pretty much on their own. That would be another way to address this problem--with the caveat that men wouldn't have any claim over their children born out of wedlock.

That would also end welfare, of course--and there's the problem. People can prate about morality and equality all they like, but these laws were put in place to give the state access to politically acceptable wallets. Given a choice between increased social welfare costs and hitting up an unwilling father for more money, it's easy to see which the state prefers.

protein wisdom said...

Though it isn't mentioned here, for those of you interested, I hosted a similarly spirited (and divided) discussion of this case on my site.

I tried to raise a few hypotheticals that I think really problematize the current reproductive rights debate. Those of you who are interested are invited to comment (and read through the rather lengthy comments thread).

Jim said...

"How human beings have related to one another over history does tell us a few things about their character."

Yes indeed, and over the span of history that has generally been that men and their lives are expendable and woman because of their wombs are not. The pattern of medical epxerimentation and most obviously of warfare are examples, as are the patterns of who does the most hazardous work in general. I see from some comments here how deeply entrenched this attitude is.

Abortion rights are almost always touted as reproductive rights, and when gender equality comes up, presto changeo, it's suddenly all about the woman's bodily integrity. And that is supposed to settle the issue - even though there is no corresponding right for men - see above. So try again.


"I smell some egalitarian spirit here, and its name seems to be woman."

Bwahahhahh! It was all those piles of dead women at Gettysburg that doomed slavery, is that what you are trying to say? Talk about freeloading. Come to think of it, the same goes for the vote.

But that just proves your underlying point, Lori, that is has been men and women working together that have made for human progress.

Likewise, this issue really only takes on a life where the parents aren't married, and also perhaps not working together tha raise the child.

Revenant said...

Women in this country had a LOT to do with why slavery was abolished.

Given that women constitute approximately 50% of the population, why would it be surprising that a lot of the people involved in the anti-slavery movement were women? Now, if you're going to claim that more than 50% of the anti-slavery movement was female, well, that's simply incorrect. If for no other reason than the diminished role of women in political and military affairs, the bulk of the abolitionist movement was comprised of and run by men (and of course the Civil War that actually ended slavery was fought by men).

This fact may be inconvenient to people like Revenant, but it happens to be true.

I can't imagine why I would consider it inconvenient, since it is irrelevant. You claim not to believe in the inherent moral superiority of women (although, as I noted, that's probably not an honest claim on your part), so the fact that women who died long before you were born did brave things simply doesn't have any bearing on modern women at all. Unless this is more of your routine of taking credit for something on the basis that both you and the people who actually *did* it have a vagina?

Isaac Newton had a penis. So do I. Woohoo, I'm a frickin' scientific genius! That I'm willing to admit that women can be intelligent too should be considered a monument to men's giving natures! :)

Lori, you have this tendancy to seize on any issue as an opportunity to whip out your cross and nail yourself to it in order that your suffering and nobility as a Christian and a lesbian can be displayed for all to see. Enough, already.

Revenant said...

In the situation I outlined the man gets offspring, one that has a reasonable chance, although perhaps not the best, of surviving to reproductive age.

I addressed that issue in the post you responded to. As I noted, if that is your idea of the man "getting a free ride" then men who donate to sperm banks also "get a free ride". In fact, they're *paid* for their "ride". Under your logic, sperm-bank donors should be even more obligated to support their children than men who accidentally knock up their girlfriends are.

Furthermore, since the woman can choose to abort, the man only gets his "ride" if the woman wants him to -- which means he isn't getting something for nothing at all. He's getting something in exchange for giving the woman something she wants, too -- namely, a child. If the woman doesn't want a child, the man doesn't get one.

Richard Bennett said...

Until relatively recently, women who had sex out of wedlock were pretty much on their own.

Not really. In Victorian England there was a short experiment with the so-called "Bastardy C;lause" of 1834 that gave men a free pass to impregnate unmarried women, but it was a disaster that had to be repealed.

See this paper for the actual background, to wit:

Prior to the 19th century, the Poor Law of 1733 stipulated that the putative father was responsible for the maintenance of his illegitimate child. If he failed to support the child, the mother could have him arrested on a justice's warrant and put in prison until he agreed to do so. Local authorities issued public funds to maintain the mother and her child until the father could do so. Those public funds were to be reimbursed by the putative father, though this rarely happened. In an attempt to stem the rising costs of poor relief, the local authorities attempted to reduce their liability for illegitimate children by forcing the fathers to marry the mothers.

Today's status quo is consistent with our tradition, except for the rate of child support that unmarried fathers have to pay.

Lori Heine said...

Wow, Revenant is getting pretty down and earthy now!

Where I come from, polite folks don't mention their own private parts in public -- and they certainly don't mention those of others. At the risk of sounding like Miss Manners, please kindly desist. Even though we frequently disagree, I have this mental image of you as a gentleman, and I would kind of like to keep it.

On the whole, you seem to have some real hostility toward women.
I mention this not because I particularly care, but because you often comment on my mental state, my motives, my psychological profile and all sorts of other personal stuff. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

In the matter of unwanted offspring, I agree that much confusion has been wrought by gender-identity politics (with which I do not agree, no matter what anybody else wants to claim). We do tend to see rights, now, always in terms of one specially-interested group against another. I think that, in general, America was a happier place when we didn't see happiness as such a zero-sum game.

There's another Lori Heine, down in Florida, who left her kid at the side of a busy road because he threw a tantrum over a Happy Meal. I have been razzed no end about this by just a few folks, so I can only begin to imagine the sort of media scrutiny she's gotten.

Are people being too judgmental of the woman? I don't see how making fun of her is going to make her a better mom. But perhaps it is a good thing that the public is still capable of getting disgusted that a mother would do what she did.

I don't have any kids, myself, but I don't see a child as an albatross or a ball and chain. There seems to be a sort of attitude, on the part of some in this discussion, that being able to abandon a child is some sort of great privilege, to which we should all aspire. I just can't see it. To me every child is a gift from God -- even one who throws a tantrum over a happy meal.

After driving away and leaving the kid there, Florida Lori evidently sat at roadside somewhere and downed some beers. Her kid could have been in Mexico by the time she got around to looking for him, but fortunately nothing happened to him and he is, as far as I am aware, in the custody of another relative now.

At bottom, this is an issue of respect. Not only did this woman lack any respect for her child, but she didn't show any for herself, either. Nor did she show any for the child's father. Can women take seriously the notion that she was exercising some hallowed right while she sat in her car and drank beer -- not even knowing, at the time, whether her son was alive or dead?

That just seems, to me, like the wackiest idea in the world. I guess it isn't so much that I believe womens' character is superior to mens' as it is that I wish we had more of a sense of pride about ourselves and how we live our lives. In the bad old days before feminism, I think in some ways, women actually took more pride in themselves. And men did, too.

Ampersand said...

Cathy wrote:

I'm not going to accuse anyone of "lying" (and I'd like to ask Richard Bennett not to do so on my blog, either), but I do think that at the very least your statement wasn't clearly thought through. Because as Richard points out, not only can a woman put up her baby for adoption, but in a growing number of states/jurisdictions she can also leave it as a police station or a hospital, with no questions asked.

So yes, a woman has that right.


I disagree. Adoption - whether done through arranging adoption with an agency, or through dropping a baby off with authorities who will arrange for adoption - is doing the responsible thing, and it's the opposite of abandonment.

I would never describe a man or a woman who gives their child up for adoption as having "abandoned" their child, or as having not acted responsibly.

Do you really think adoption is the same thing as cutting and running without taking any responsibility? Seriously? I doubt you could justify that conflation logically.

If a single mother and her child are living hand to mouth but not on welfare, no one is going to force the mother to collect child support or even identify the father -- despite the fact that she is condemning her child to an impoverished life.

Point well taken. Our system could be more coherent and consistent.

Finally, interesting data about the correlation between child support enforcement and single parenthood rates. Do you believe that either men or women are sufficiently aware of how strict their state's child support enforcement policies are that this would affect their behavior?

I think that a sufficient number of people are aware of what's going on with their schoolmates, co-workers and neighbors for behavior to be affected. Someone who has witnessed an effective child-support payment system is aware that such a system exists, and therefore has more incentive to avoid becoming an nonresident father. In contrast, if that same man instead sees that other men around him consistently get away with not paying child support, he will therefore have less incentive to avoid becoming a nonresident father.

I really don't see what's implausible about that.

I wonder if correlation really equals causation here. Are there other factors involved? I.e., do states with stricter CS enforcement rate higher on other factors (such as educational levels) that correlate with lower rates of out-of-wedlock births?


Plotnick et al's study
controlled for availability of abortion, differences in available welfare from state to state, women's economic backgrounds, mother's and father's education, race, age, mother's marital status when the woman was born, and religion. IIRC, the other studies used similar controls (although of course no two studies are alike in every detail).

It is logically impossible to eliminate the possibility of an unknown, unmeasured factor. However, given the failure of many controls to eliminate the effect of child support laws on single motherhood, the plausible theory explaining how such a connection could exist, and the fact that this result has been replicated over multiple studies without much contradiction, I think it's reasonable to believe that there is a causal connection.

By the way, for folks who are wondering, Plotnick et al's study found that the less available abortion is in a state, the higher the rate of single motherhood.

Differences in welfare, however, had no measurable effect. Although I haven't studied it carefully, my impression is that the social science literature on welfare and single motherhood has not achieved any consensus; the effects, if they exist, are not consistently replicated across studies.

Cathy Young said...

Barry, so what you're saying is that in addition to having an abortion, a woman can legally give up all obligations to an already born child without it being classified as "abandonment." A man doesn't have a single one of those options. And that doesn't strike you as seriously unfair?

Cal said...

" In Victorian England there was a short experiment with the so-called "Bastardy C;lause" of 1834 that gave men a free pass to impregnate unmarried women, but it was a disaster that had to be repealed."

I was talking about the US. I believe the first government support for unmarried women with children was ADC, later AFDC. And I doubt that would have ever been enacted if the majority of single mothers had been unmarried.

Pablo said...

Ampersand says:

Do you really think adoption is the same thing as cutting and running without taking any responsibility?

When "adoption" consists of dropping the child at a police station and beating feet, how can it be anything else?

You're leaving the child where you reasonably expect that its needs will be met, while taking no responsibility for meeting them yourself. How is it different?

The mental picture of such a mother finds her concerned, teary and torn. The mental picture of such a father has him unconcerned and resoultely selfish. There stereotypes aren't necessarily reflective of the truth.

Ampersand said...

Cathy wrote:

Barry, so what you're saying is that in addition to having an abortion, a woman can legally give up all obligations to an already born child without it being classified as "abandonment." A man doesn't have a single one of those options. And that doesn't strike you as seriously unfair?

The fact that only women can have abortions is unfair, but the disparity is so deeply rooted in basic reproductive biology that it probably can't be fixed without creating even more unfairness.[*]

What your question fails to acknowledge is that it's not an unfairness that stands alone. As I'm sure you realize, human reproduction also presents significant negatives for women; you're talking as if the only people ever screwed over by biology are men, but you can't seriously believe that's the case.

I don't agree with feminists who say that men are never harmed by sexism. But your view of this issue - in which you seem determined to view men as pure victims, while ignoring unfairness to women - is at least as unbalanced.

[*]Actually, in a socialist state, or one with a basic income for all citizens, I might favor choice for men, since the responsibility for keeping children out of poverty would be collectivized. But I doubt you'd go for that solution.

Cathy wrote: ....a woman can legally give up all obligations to an already born child without it being classified as "abandonment." A man doesn't have a single one of those options.

With all due respect, Cathy, I wonder if you've done your research. As far as I can determine, the majority of "safe haven" laws give identical legal rights to mothers and fathers.

For example, this website includes the text of safe haven laws of 16 states. In 15 of those states (New York, Washington state, California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Alabama and Wisconsin) the law is gender neutral (Minnesota's law applies to the "mother or other person," all the rest say "parent"). Only one state listed - Georgia - has a safe haven law which applies only to mothers.

To try and wring a male victimization narrative out of laws that are nearly always gender-neutral is a serious distortion of the facts.

I think I've been very forthcoming in answering your questions, Cathy, so I hope you'll forgive me if I repeat a question you skipped answering: Do you really think giving up a child for adoption is the same thing as cutting and running without taking any responsibility?

Darleen said...

Richard Bennett

Equal out-of-pocket support from both parents as "fair" in a child support situation?

How do you figure?

My divorce in 1997 after 16 years as a stay-at-home-mom with four children and my husband earning $85,000 year. I was the one (and continued to be the one) that took care of the girls - cooking, cleaning, schooling, extracurricular activities, etc.

Exactly how would it have been fair for the court to base my husband's child support on what I could contribute in out-of-pocket cash when I didn't work outside the house (and when I did start back it was part-time for not much more than minimum wage)?

Rarely do couples with child earn equal amounts in income and rarely are the child raising activities equally split

I find this 'Roe v Wade for Men' lawsuit abhorent because it is not about 'fairness'. It is a method of revenge against gestating women who won't play along with the wishes of the impregnator with the result (if it is upheld) of creating a two class system of children - legitimate and bastards - the latter legally fatherless with no rights to medical/financial/inheritance.

Darleen said...

ampersand

Let me add that in California adoption cannot take place without the consent of both biological parents (there are some exceptions but that is the general rule).

Darleen said...

Oh heck...one more thing about the 'safe haven' laws

they are a pragmatic approach to a real situation and have actually resulted in a drop in the gruesome scenario of dead newborns in dumpsters.

Think of it as akin to clean needle distribution.

Jim said...

Lori,

I absoultely agree with your observation that this debate seems to be based on an assumption that children are a burden. They are a wondrous gift, but providing for them is a heavy responsibility that can reasonably be called a burden. But you are basically right, it is a happy burden. So that ought to lead us into a discussion about the sexist unfairness of the child custody policies in this country........

Darleen,

The best way to answer you is with the bumper sticker slogan - If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em. You admit that you lived at home on someone else's income, and then you call yourself the primary caregiver, when you have just stated that you didn't have the means to feed yourself, let alone your children.

And then you continue in this vein by distorting the argument and saying it is about revenge against the gestators who refuse to do the bidding of the big, bad men, when the situtaion patently is one in which the women are snapping the whip on the men - deciding what will happen to the men's children, whether or not they will pay and for how long, since they retain the right not to work to support these children themselves .

And then for final good measure you asert that the law protects the rights both parents with trgaerd to these no-questions-asked drop boxes. No questions asked - that nmenas a woman can take the baby and unbeknownst to the father drop it off in a drwer in a door somewhere. There is no way to ascertain if she ahs ever informed the father or attempted to. Do you see how this completely undermines your assertion?

Pablo said...

It is a method of revenge against gestating women who won't play along with the wishes of the impregnator with the result (if it is upheld) of creating a two class system of children - legitimate and bastards - the latter legally fatherless with no rights to medical/financial/inheritance.

That's the case when single women adopt, or when fathers die young. It's the de facto situation for children whose fathers are incarcerated. Are you suggesting that this is an untenable situation, and that society must prevent it?

Life is just hard somtimes, isn't it?

Revenant said...

It is a method of revenge against gestating women who won't play along with the wishes of the impregnator with the result

That's absurd. This isn't about revenge at all -- we're talking about decisions made long before the child is born, when the woman still has the option to abort. If the woman chooses to completely ignore the man's wishes, the man doesn't have to pay to support the woman's decision. That's not "revenge", that's basic fairness.

Now, if pro-life people were arguing for a "Roe vs Wade" for men, then maybe your argument would hold water. But very few people arguing for men's rights in this case are hostile to the rights of women. Most of us just believe that rights and responsibilities should go hand in hand, instead of one party getting all the rights and the other getting only responsibilities.

Revenant said...

At the risk of sounding like Miss Manners

You should be thanking me. I've given you something new to act morally superior about.

On the whole, you seem to have some real hostility toward women.

Hardy. You personally just have a rather obnoxious tendancy to see enemies all around you, even when none exist. A good case in point was your comment about "all those children who are supposedly so crucially important that they must be protected from me" -- the fact that you're a lesbian and that some people think lesbians should be kept away from children couldn't possibly be less relevant to this discussion.

I've said nothing here that a reasonable person could interpret as hostile to women; I haven't ranted on about wicked women tricking men into sex in order to collect Welfare, or about women raping men, or any other women-against-men scenarios. I have focused exclusively on tying rights to responsibilities. I have also, of course, repeatedly mocked your attempts to claim moral authority on the basis of your gender. But while you might think of yourself as representing your gender in this discussion, I don't.

Revenant said...

Revenant, aren't you the guy in past threads who expressed the views that men and women are genetically different... that this is part of the evolutionary process... that men are genetically predisposed to seek multiple sexual partners and to avoid being involved in the care of their progeny?

Yes, that would be me. Although that should be "to be less disposed to being involved in", not "to avoid being involved in". There's no evolutionary advantage to actively ignoring all your kids.

Yet, you object to the law treating men as though this is their predisposition and insuring that, financially at least, they can't abandon their children?

I don't think the purpose of the law is to "correct" people's dispositions. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people meet their obligations. I don't think that a person who wanted a fetus aborted, but was forced to allow that fetus to come to term, has any obligation to support the child in question. Whoever denied him or her the abortion of that fetus is the one with the financial obligation.

I also don't think it reasonable to deny a class of people their rights based on nothing more than their genetic predispositions.

Do I understand this correctly?

Well, you talk about fathers "abandoning their children", which is an overbroad category. If the father consented to the childbirth until after the point where the pregnancy could have been stopped, then I believe the father has accepted his obligations as a parent and should not be allowed to abandon them. The situation I have been discussing here is one where the father specifically does not WANT the child to be born at all.

Katherine said...

Whenever this subject comes up, I hear people argue that the abortion right is predicated entirely and solely on "bodily integrity", and thus shouldn't be extended to men. This is not only highly questionable in a legal sense, but it's entirely false as a practical matter.

First, here is the language from Roe v. Wade explaining why the state can't constitutionally infringe on a woman's privacy rights by banning abortion:

"The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved."

Thus, even the Supreme Court recognized that a large part of the abortion right is premised NOT just on bodily integrity but on the privacy right of not becoming a parent.

Second, outside the realm of legal theory and into the realm of reality, the vast majority of the time, women have abortions because they don't want children, not because of some physical health issue. Women that want children and are ready to become parents put up with pregnancy (hell, some even enjoy it). Women don't have abortions because their "bodily integrity" is compromised, they have abortions because they're too young, they're too poor, they have other obligations, they have other things they want to do, etc, etc. Here's a study on the issue:

http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2005/09/06/index.html

Quote: The top reasons women abort "are that having a child (or another child) would interfere with their ability to care for their existing children, their work responsibilities or their education, and that they cannot afford a baby right now".

In other words, women abort for exactly the same reason that men want to opt-out: because they aren't ready for the burden of parenthood (or to parent an additional child). I can't agree that women should have this exclusive right and that men should have no rights at all.

Anonymous said...

Let's think about the principles at play:
A pregnancy (the fetus or whatnot) itself has no rights, and no one is responsible for it unless they choose to be. This obviously applies to the pregnant woman, who may terminate a pregnancy at will. It obviously follows that men should have some right of abdication. Children have rights only after birth. By that time, the man should be allowed to recuse himself from a pregnancy he did not want. It's not that hard if you just stick to the logic.

Darleen said...

Attn Jim

You admit that you lived at home on someone else's income, and then you call yourself the primary caregiver

Excuse me? Did I insult you or something? I didn't live on someone else's income. When my husband and I got married we entered into a PARTNERSHIP. We wanted children and we did the RIGHT THING by not creching them in a daycare center with strangers at 3 months old.

Do you understand what COMMUNITY property is? Why do you think MARRIED people should be treated differently than, say, two partners who open a restaurant where one manages the kitchen and personnel, creating menus, etc..and the other manages the finances, drums up business in the community through networking, etc.?

Good lord, what a weird idea you have of marriage and children if you think that ever talent, chore, and interest is exactly 50/50 and interchangeable.

Do you hate your mom?

Aric said...

Several people have pointed out that there's a difference in restricting abortion, which is about 'bodily integrity', and forcing child support, which is about 'property rights'.

Just a helpful reminder, child support payments are not based on your income, but your 'imputed' income, meaning the amount that a judge thinks that you could make if you'd really just apply yourself. A man paying child support is *obligated* to have the highest-paying job he can for 18 years, regardless of how pleasant that job is.

Darleen said...

Hey Pablo

So because there are sometimes tragic circumstances in life, we should compound 'em?

What a great strategy!

Darleen said...

aric

Imputed income?

What state are you talking about?

Not CA.

Chris said...

I think I have an authoritative source that will show all of you the light. I speak, of course, of the "Bosco" episode of Seinfeld. Scene: George and Elaine are giving their condolences to Mr. Peterman at his mother's funeral, but neither wishes to stick around. So, they decide to come up with a story that will allow them to leave early.
Elaine: Mr. Peterman, you have my deepest sympathies. Unfortunately, I've gotta get going.
Peterman: You do?
George: Uh, yes, actually we-we both do.
Elaine: I have a personal commitment.
George: Well, personal, I mean, we both uh...
Peterman: What is it?
Elaine: I'm speaking at a women's' rights conference.
George: Yes, and I'm speaking at a men's' conference.
Peterman: I don't believe that for a minute. Well, Elaine, it was good of you to stop by.

Clearly, this episode has tremendous relevance to public policy in general and this issue in particular, and, as a bonus, it also has Kramer's brilliant cryptanalysis of George's ATM code. "What kind of a man are you? You're weak, spineless, a man of temptation. But what tempts you? You're a portly fellow..."

Perhaps I should get a life. Love your blog, Cathy.

Aric said...

darleen:

A few examples from searching Google:

Kansas

Minnesota

Wyoming

New Mexico

On each one, the first search hit for 'imputed' finds something like this (Wyoming):


[The court shall consider w]hether either parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In such case the child support shall be computed based upon the potential earning capacity (imputed income) of the unemployed or underemployed parent. In making that determination the court shall consider:

(A) Prior employment experience and history;

(B) Educational level [...]

(D) Availability of employment for which the parent is qualified;

[...]

(F) Special skills or training; and

Note, nothing about the parent simply not wanting the high-paying, (probably) high-stress job anymore.

Darren said...

I have no agenda other than wanting equality before the law, which men clearly don't have right now. I don't see how anyone could argue that the two sexes are equal before the law in cases of family law.

I discussed this topic on my own blog and actually got what I consider to be a fair and reasonable solution to gender equity--and it doesn't require women to bear a child they don't want. I invite you to
http://rightontheleftcoast.blogspot.com/2005/12/mens-right-to-choose.html

The solution I refer to is in the comments from Anonymous (Dan).

pok said...

Indeed, the current regime does not recognize the fetus as a child nor view abortion as murder. This has been a tremendous feminist achievement; the logical conclusion of which would seem at odds with the feminist argument to "paper abortions" for men.

In the current language of abortion, the fetus is not a child. Abortion is not predicated on the future interests of the fetus as a future child - except in so far as abortion precisely protects women from the unwanted needs of a future child.

This is diametrically opposite the rationale that underlies the opposition to abortion rights for men. Whereas women aren't proactively held accountable for the future murder of a future child, men are proactively reponsible for a future child support.

In short, the present abortion regime simultaneoulsy views a child's interest as an obstacle to a woman's privacy, as well as a compelling social interest to be upheld and protected from men's interests.

Anonymous said...

Men can use a condom and be selective about who they sleep with.

As you note, this has been said about women too, as explanation for denying them an abortion.

In the end, either the woman or the man will trump in deciding the fate of the child.

My own view: biology, which so often disadvantages women, gives her the ultimate decision making power here. So men are forced to pay for the consequences of their actions.

Too bad for the guys, maybe. But sometimes, as the women know, life isn't fair and you just have to suck it up.

If it's your kid, and a blood test proves it, you have to support it. Don't like it? Condoms, condoms, condoms.

mythago said...

As a factual matter, I'm not sure this is correct.

Cathy, I really, really wish you would do more research on what the law is before you run off and decide that, yes, it's whatever fits your theory that women are being mean to men--again.

If an unmarried man asserts paternity, i.e. prevents the mom from giving the baby up for adoption, BOTH are on the hook financially and legally for the child.

You might consider that men, too, don't seem to be giving women a consistent message about parenthood--sometimes they want us to be the primary caregivers, sometimes they resent us for doing that instead of paying the bills. Sometimes they insist that contraception is our problem, then complain that we "got pregnant".

As I've said before, a fatherhood 'opt-out' gives men rights women don't have. A woman who can't get an abortion isn't let off the hook for any future parental obligations. If you want to be fair, required unmarried fathers to opt IN.

Meryl Yourish said...

From Cathy's article: "The notion of fatherhood as a trap, a burden, a yoke is strong in male culture," says Kammer. "By making fatherhood a choice, we will allow it to become an obligation freely taken, not to be resented or avoided."

And that, advocates for men say, is the real point -- not men's ability to control women or to desert children, but the ability to have input in decisions that profoundly affect their lives.


Wow. The notion of fatherhood as a trap and a burden is strong in male culture? And here I thought the notion of fatherhood, was, well, a good thing.

I'm sorry, but you're trying to inject legal or societal fairness into a biological process that is inherently unequal.

There is no such thing as biological equal rights. This case is ridiculous. As far as I can tell, the so-called men's rights movement is looking to find a legal walk-away clause for men who weren't smart enough to use birth control.

Katherine said...

Mythago -

I don't understand your reasoning here:

"a fatherhood 'opt-out' gives men rights women don't have. A woman who can't get an abortion isn't let off the hook for any future parental obligations"

We're talking about male/female equality *before the law*. And as far as the law is concerned, any woman *can* get an abortion. So I don't understand your logic: it would make sense if we didn't have Roe (which guarantees women the abortion right). But the whole dispute here is over whether Roe should be extended to men, at least in spirit.

Anonymous said...

>Oh heck...one more thing about
>the 'safe haven' laws
>
>they are a pragmatic approach to a
>real situation and have actually
>resulted in a drop in the gruesome
>scenario of dead newborns in
>dumpsters.
>
>Think of it as akin to clean needle
>distribution.

This analogy doesn't hold water. "Let me legally abandon my child or I'll kill it" isn't good sense, it's blackmail.

Cathy Young said...

Guys, first of all, can we please stop with the personal attacks and discuss ideas, not personalities?

Thanks.

Now, on to the substance, and unfortunately I will only be able to reply to a few comments.

Ampersand:

I don't agree with feminists who say that men are never harmed by sexism. But your view of this issue - in which you seem determined to view men as pure victims, while ignoring unfairness to women - is at least as unbalanced.


With all due respect, I think you're oversimplifying my position. I acknowledge that there may be no way of remedying the unfairness to men without being unfair to women. I don't think men are "pure victims" in this case. I just think they have legitimate issues that deserve to be acknowledged.

As for the gender neutrality of safe haven laws, I have to say I'm reminded of Anatole France's comment that the law, in its infinite fairness, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges. *G* I would love to see what would happen to a guy who dropped off his infant child at a "safe haven" without the mother's knowledge or consent.

As for your question:

Do you really think giving up a child for adoption is the same thing as cutting and running without taking any responsibility?


Well, "cutting and running" is a morally loaded, value-laden way of describing a man terminating his parental obligations to a future child. Kind of like "killing your baby" to describe abortion.

I don't know think any advocates of "choice for men" are suggesting that the man should have no responsibility at all. First of all, no one suggests that the man should simply be exempt from child support obligations if he says "I don't want to pay child support." He'd have to go through a legal paternity termination procedure and pay the legal costs. I recall that Melanie McCulley, the attorney who wrote a pro-"choice for men" law review article back in 1998, also proposed that he should pay an additional fee that would be equivalent to the cost of an abortion (and maybe defray at least a part of the medical costs of childbirth if the mother decides to carry the pregnancy to term).

My counterquestion to you is: is there anything that you think a male can do to extricate himself from his paternal obligations to an unwanted prospective child that you would not consider "cutting and running"? What if he made the arrangements for an adoption and then told the mother, "Look, I can't help out financially with raising this child, but here's this wonderful couple that wants to adopt"?

By the way, I do want to add a caveat here, for the other side, so to speak. When men's rights advocates list adoption as one of the options available to women, they are theoretically right, but I think that in practice, putting up a child for adoption just isn't a socially acceptable option for adult middle-class women anymore (if it ever was).

Darleen:

I find this 'Roe v Wade for Men' lawsuit abhorent because it is not about 'fairness'. It is a method of revenge against gestating women who won't play along with the wishes of the impregnator with the result (if it is upheld) of creating a two class system of children - legitimate and bastards - the latter legally fatherless with no rights to medical/financial/inheritance.

I agree that there is a misogynistic impulse behind some of the men's rights claims and the complains about women who get pregnant and ensnare men. But by the same token, I see a lot of bitterness and generalized hostility to men in the female response, and a kind of vindictiveness as well -- "haha, guys, your turn to get screwed."

And do you really think that revenge is the only possible reason that a 25-year-old guy might feel it was unfair that he has to bear this burden for the next 21 years, knowing that if his ex-girlfriend was the one who didn't want the baby she wouldn't be in this position?

Let me point out, as well (as I did in my original post) that women do have the right to create legally fatherless children with no right to their fathers' medical information, financial support, or inheritance. They can do so by choosing not to name the father on the birth certificate and not to inform him of his child's existence. They can also, as I pointed out, go to a sperm bank.

Cathy Young said...

mythago:

I'm sure you're legally correct.

However, as far as I know, it's quite an uphill battle for an unmarried father to contest an adoption.

All I'm saying is, I wouldn't be surprised if, in cases where that happens, the father often stipulated that he would not seek child support if the mother drops her opposition to his having custody of the child.

In addition, women in general are less likely to have child support payments assessed against them. If a woman tried to put up a child for adoption but was unable to do so because the father contested the adoption, I suspect that a judge might feel is was quite unfair to hit her with child support payments -- why should she have to suffer financially just because the guy stopped her from exercising her wishes?

I would actually like to find out more about this.

meryl:

Wow. The notion of fatherhood as a trap and a burden is strong in male culture? And here I thought the notion of fatherhood, was, well, a good thing.

Sorry, but once again I'm hearing overtones of pro-life rhetoric with regard to women: Why do feminists see motherhood as a burden rather than a blessing?

I agree, of course, that there are a lot of biological inequalities in the reproductive process.

The way I see it, our society has been trying to remedy those inequalities for women, in a variety of ways. Men don't even have a truly reliable method of contraception.

mythago said...

However, as far as I know, it's quite an uphill battle for an unmarried father to contest an adoption.

Two words: Baby Jessica.

The father doesn't have to 'contest' the adoption. The adoption simply won't be legal unless he consents. (Oregon is an unusual exception, which is why "Oregon adoptions" are popular.)


I would love to see what would happen to a guy who dropped off his infant child at a "safe haven" without the mother's knowledge or consent.

The same thing that would happen to a mother who did the same without the father's knowledge or consent: nothing. The 'safe haven' law makes it not a criminal act, and it's not kidnapping to take your own child somewhere.

I see a lot of bitterness and generalized hostility to men in the female response, and a kind of vindictiveness as well -- "haha, guys, your turn to get screwed."

Weren't you just complaining about people misinterpreting *your* comments?

It's one thing to acknowledge that men have legitimate concerns here; it's another thing to propose that we alleviate those concerns by giving them special rights women don't possess, and pretending that men don't have rights they, in fact, have.

Andras said...

"it's not kidnapping to take your own child somewhere."

Then the "International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) of 1993" is bullshit.

Cathy Young said...

Mythago, I don't think I'm misinterpreting anything. I'm referring to such comments in this thread as:

My own view: biology, which so often disadvantages women, gives her the ultimate decision making power here. So men are forced to pay for the consequences of their actions.

Too bad for the guys, maybe. But sometimes, as the women know, life isn't fair and you just have to suck it up.


And to quite a few more.

Incidentally, why are you challenging me only on my interpretation of women's motives, and not on my statement that some of the men making pro-"choice for men" arguments are motivated by misogyny?

Two words: Baby Jessica.

The father doesn't have to 'contest' the adoption. The adoption simply won't be legal unless he consents.


Yes, that's if the father is identified.

And by the way, for Baby Jessica and Baby Richard, I can cite a half dozen other cases in which men whose children were put up for adoption without their consent did not prevail in court when they challenged the adoption.

I would love to see what would happen to a guy who dropped off his infant child at a "safe haven" without the mother's knowledge or consent.

The same thing that would happen to a mother who did the same without the father's knowledge or consent: nothing. The 'safe haven' law makes it not a criminal act, and it's not kidnapping to take your own child somewhere.


Only if you have custody of that child.

If you were correct, then a man could very easil avoid parental responsibilities: offer the mom to babysit the kid while she's out, then take it to the nearest police station, dump it and walk away whistling a merry tune.

Pablo said...

Hey Pablo

So because there are sometimes tragic circumstances in life, we should compound 'em?

What a great strategy!


Hey Darleen! That doesn't answer the question. You're making a class argument, suggesting that this would create another class of children. I'm telling you that the class already exists.

If we cannot have such a class of children, why aren't we doing something about the rest of the fatherless kids?

For that matter, why don't we do something about mothers who never even tell the guy he's a father, or who want him out of her's and the child's lives? What about the rights of those children to not inhabit this "bastard" class you're so concerned for?

We're not talking strategy, btw. We're talking law.

As for compounding the problem, we do it every time we lock a father up.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people say this issue isn't simple... but it's simpler than you think. The main things that makes it unclear is the history and the biology.

But, if you are commited to doing the right thing in the PRESENT, you can leave the history where it belongs. Which only leaves the biology, and that's just as fungible, as you will see.

All you need to do is compare a man's choice to not be a father (financially) with a woman's choice not to be a mother (financially). Finally, we are comparing apples to apples.

So, to the exact extent a mother can escape her financial responsibility by giving the child up for adoption, the man can also choose to give it up for adoption... by the woman.

You don't like the fact that a man skipping out on supporting the child hurts the child? Too bad. Because the child is equally... no, MORE screwed when the mother gives it up for adoption, and probably is WORSE off.

If you can't get a judge to order the woman to take care of her kid, then you can't get a judge to order a man to do so either.

End. Of. Story.

And if you even think of starting to decry that as unfair, then maybe you better sit down and think about how unfair the current system must be, that merely making the law equal for both sexes is seen as disruptive.

If you have to balance a scale by unloading a truckload of manure onto one side, then there must have been a truckload of manure already depressing the scale the other way. So before you complain that my solution, which merely enforces equilibrium, unleashes too much crap, you need to take a minute and think about what that implies about the current situation.

Anonymous said...

1. I don't believe in abortion (guy here)
2. If you want to have sex with me you need to know that I won't pay for your abortion.
3. I also prefer not to use a condom (ever taken a shower with a raincoat on?), so bring your own birth control if we happen to "get drunk and screw".
4. If conception should occur and you elect to not have an abortion, then I will assist you during your pregnancy but after that you are on your own because you failed to pay attention.

Sign here: _______________

Nikolaides said...

Cathy, you asked whether an unwed father who was raising a child after stopping its mother from giving it away for adoption would be able to get support from the mother. The answer is yes, of course. I have seen several cases in which that has occurred. (Domestic relations lawyer here.) Child support statutes are usually written to be gender-blind and to apply to both parents. Except when discussing fatherhood- or motherhood-specific subjects such as paternity tests or the costs of giving birth, the statutes will usually use language like "custodial parent" and "non-custodial parent" in order to make certain that the support law reaches whichever parent does not have custody of the child.

Also, jw, you said,
"Since the law also reads that if a woman uses force to get pregnant, he is still the father and liable for child support; then the law actually reads that no male has any right at all to choose to be or not to be a father." What law "reads" that way, JW? I will eat my hat if you can find a statute anywhere that says that. Maybe there's an opinion someplace where a judge has made that ruling in an individual situation, but when I asked you if you had a link to such a thing over at neo-neocon's, you didn't answer. You mentioned an anecdote in Canada involving a 68-year-old man. Any links to a site with more detail? If not, what are you basing this repeated claim on? Once again, I'm not asking this to be confrontational. I am a professional working in this area daily and I find it very hard to believe that such a ruling has taken place often, if ever. If I am wrong and it has, I would really like to know. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Addendum: Unless, of course, WE want to get married, in which case I will endeavor to be a kind and faithful husband until death do us part. (I don't believe in divorce either!)

Cathy Young said...

nikolaides: I'd like to hear more about the circumstances of those cases (feel free to contact my privately if you want). Because frankly, if true, it strikes me as ridiculously unfair as well -- penalizing a woman financially for the fact that the father decided to raise the child himself rather than allow her to put it up for adoption. Why should she have to pay for his unilateral decision?

mythago, I forgot to answer this point:

As I've said before, a fatherhood 'opt-out' gives men rights women don't have. A woman who can't get an abortion isn't let off the hook for any future parental obligations.

Okay, first of all, she is if she puts up the baby for adoption (barring the chance -- which I still think is quite unlikely -- that the father would bar the adoption and then collect child support). Secondly, the point is that women, in the overwhelming majority of cases, can get an abortion. That's the only reason we're having this conversation.

And, anonymous (posting at 6:58): way to go; keep giving fodder to the male-bashers.

Anonymous said...

Cathy,

If every woman signed the contract I proposed neither side would have any complaint should pregnancy occur and the equities would be served. Side benefit: less casual sex. Of course predatory males would not offer such a contract which would be a tip off for the women.

Anonymous (6:58)

Anonymous said...

There was a heart breaking story posted at Volokh Conspiracy awhile back. A young law student and his fiance were attending law school together and she accidentally got pregnant and then secretly got an abortion. The guy felt betrayed and they broke up over it. He became depressed and committed suicide.

Now if she had signed my contract, I speculate that he would still be alive because it clearly puts the responsibility for continuing the pregnancy with the woman. Which is as it should be because it is her "constitutional" right altho in my particular case I do not believe it is her moral right.

Big Bill said...

Listening to you folks is like watching the ship's band argue over song choices, struggling to keep their footing as the promenade deck of the Titanic tilts farther and farther over.

Its all white folks arguing here about kids, who raises 'em , who gets to kill them. But why do you care? Your race and culture is going extinct. You no longer make enough children even to repalce yourselves, let alone multiply.

Th collective hatred of cchildren and refusal to reproduce started with white feminists in the 60's like some mental virus and has devoured an entire race.


You argue about your few remaining fetuses and babies, as though they are a massive burden in the wealthiest culture that have ever existed on earth.

Your women demand the right not to be *relieved* of pregnancy, but to *delay* their children's birth just long enouh to pierce their skulls and suck their brains out.

Your cultures are decaying, addicted to drink and fornication.

Your women do not even trust their own kind to nurture their own children. Choosing to work out of the house, they pay for little brown women from all over the globe to come to America and suckle their babies. A white teenage girl as a babysitter! Perish the thought!

You are so disgusted with yourselves and the societies you have created that you teach the few of your children that *do* survive how evil they and their forbearers are, guaranteeing their self-loathing, "cutting", anorexia and bulimia.

Thank God you are being replaced by stronger, more robust races of people. People like Mexicans and Muslims whose women do not loath the very thought of parturition.

For in your women's quest to stay eternally young, eternally beautiful, and eternally unburdened, you are going gladly, willingly extinct.

It is time for you to leave before you mentally infect the children of other peoples and other races who do not yet suffer from your sickness.

So sit her and argue back and forth over who is going to be "stuck" with your babies, who is going to be "burdened" with them (horrors!).

The rest of the world watches this curious insanity and clucks its tongue, but in silence. As your numbers keep dwindling and your fingers grow feeble and limp and fall from the levers of history, their voices will grow louder and louder until ultimately you are replaced ... I hope gently.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I agree with most of what you say except for the racist part.

After all the blacks in the US are ardent supporters of the abortion party and millions of black children have been aborted and statistics show that black women have more abortions per woman than whites.

I agree tho that the viability of western civilization is called into question when the viability of that culture is threatened thru lack of children. This is most evident in Europe and Canada. Here in the US the so-called red states are still mostly slightly above replacement but the blue states are mostly not.

Big Bill said...

Oh, and I don't buy the finger-waggling of Miss Heine at "heteros".

Lesbians have long fought for the right to create children who legally have only a single parent.

When it comes to Lesbian Love and childmaking, they wish the males would magically disappear.

Sperm donor Moms shiver in fear at the possibility that a man, one used and discarded, will reappear as a father.

A child of lesbian artificial insemination truly has no legal father from which the state can demand support, and the ladies like it like that.

So don't buy for one second the feminist argument that a child must have two financial parents, because society demands it.

They subverted those laws a long time ago to have their "Heather has One Mommy" child.

White women want their children, on their terms, in their time frame, and with (or without) a man, as they choose. And the white race and culture is evaporating like morning mist because of it.

Anonymous said...

Cathy, its your blog and all but I would like to know why objectively speaking male-bashers SHOULD take offense at what I have posted?

I suspect that they might not appreciate that I don't approve of abortion...but hey there are tons of people that SAY they don't including damn near every Democrat politician until they think they might have a chance for national office.

I am not predicating my solution to the problem upon overturning Roe and in fact I don't think it should be overturned. But I do think placing the moral responsibility for having an abortion on the woman as my contract (or some variant thereof) does would basically eliminate the whining on both sides.

Anonymous said...

Addendum: At least with respect to unwanted pregnancy outside of marriage.

nk said...

Even the most liberal position does not grant a presumption in favor of abortion. It may occur only in cases where the mother and her physician determine "that it is necessary" and that necessity refers to the health of the woman. I am a man and a father and I cannot fully express my disgust with any man who thinks his child should be aborted to relieve him of the obligation of child support. Such people should be shunned and shamed instead of discussed seriously.

Jason Broander said...

Cathy Young: "nikolaides: I'd like to hear more about the circumstances of those cases (feel free to contact my privately if you want). Because frankly, if true, it strikes me as ridiculously unfair as well -- penalizing a woman financially for the fact that the father decided to raise the child himself rather than allow her to put it up for adoption. Why should she have to pay for his unilateral decision?"

Cathy, were you being sarcastic here? Because you just stated what the crux of the argument for the men's rights side is--that it is unfair for the man to have to pay for a unilateral decision that the woman made. If you indeed believe that it is unfair for the woman to have to pay child support if the man won't let her give it up for adoption but raises it himself, than why in the world is it fair for the man to have to pay child support if the woman keeps the child despite the man's objections and then demands child support from him?

Please explain. Barring sarcasm, your argument is very contradictory. Unless you bring some argument in that is butressed by biology, you may have finally revealed what you think the answer is--the current unfair regime.

Of course, I may be misunderstanding what you said, or maybe you mispoke. But I'd like it if you could clarify.

Anonymous said...

I do have one question regarding this current arguement regarding men who are forced to be parents. In most states doesn't a man's (or woman's) obligation to a child end if they give up their parental rights? If a man was adamant about not being a father and yet the woman wanted to carry the baby sign the papers to relenquish rights. Doesn't that end their obligation?

The situation can never be 'fair' because women and men do not equally have the ability to be pregnant. It's her body and in the end ultimately her choice as long as the law allows for choice.... and no it's not fair but having a parent who wants the privilege of being a parent without the financial or emotional responsibility is unfair too. So for any man who feels that he's being forced into fatherhood then give up those rights. That way there are no barriers to a step father adopting if the right person comes along in the life of the mom & child. No blended family problems. No visitation problems to work out. No financial obligation problems. The same could be said for women.. I would hope that any women who became pregnant and didn't want to be a mom but the father was more than willing to be a father to that child would consider carrying to term and then relenquishing rights to him.

I come down on the side of the child when rights have been relenquished. Once it's done it should not be undone, lightly if at all. A natural parent should not have the right to change their mind except for a very, very short time frame. They can put their name in a registry and when the child reaches majority they can connect if both want to but once relenquished, can't go back.

These people will mostly of course come to regret their decision to give up their parental rights. Some will come to regret their decision to abort. A few even regret their decision to have children. The point being that situations are hard sometimes and decisions are made that are regretful. Decisions are made that seem at the time to be the best of bad choices. We would do things differently if only we'd known how it was going to turn out. From not having sex at all, to being far more careful when we did have sex, to being more careful about who we choose to have sex with because they really aren't very good parent material and if we have sex there is alway a possiblity of pregnancy, to not having or having an abortion, to not marrying or marrying to give this child a home.

Amphipolis said...

I think that pro-choice rhetoric has taken a responsibility that was once understood to be shared by a couple and transferred it largely to the woman alone. Only she has the final say.

This is not good for the mother, the father, and the child.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm now in this situation. Here's my story. I dated a woman from South Carolina (I live in Ohio) and we met three times. From the beginning, I talked about my desire to not have children at least in this part of my life. She agreed as she is 39 years old. She also had her tubes tied and assured me it was impossible for her to get pregnant.

Over Thanksgiving, she came up to Ohio. Over the course of the long weekend, we ended the romantic relationship and remained friends. I began dating someone else and so did she.

In January, she contacted me to let me know she is pregnant and that the tubal ligation surgery had not been successful. Because of the timing of Thanksgiving, she is 100% certain the baby is mine.

The young man she is marrying is extremely weathly and has wants to be "a" father to this child. The mother does not want money from me and I don't blame her for the situation. However, what she does want from me is for me to intermittenly be in the child's life; More-or-less, for the child to know who I am and for me to be like an uncle to him. This would mean the child would know I'm his father but that our contact would be limited.

I object to this for several reasons. One, I do not believe this is in the best interest of the child -- knowing a father that is not there active in raising him would be painful and could hurt this child emotionally. Two, for me giving him back would devistate me and my family.

I've proposed two things: one is that I'm an active part of this child's life and that we share custody -- which will be tough since I live in Ohio.

The second proposal I've offered is that this child never know who I am and that we sever connection. I don't want this but considering her proposal, I think this is the least among two evils. However, this is unacceptable to her since she feels like she would be forced to lie to her child. I've explained that if we go down this path, it's all or nothing and I will not have a 12 year old showing up on my door.

Do I feel trapped? Yes, of course I do. I have no power over this situation and am completely at her mercy. Her soon to be husband is the grandson of a former governer and is extremely powerful. I live in an apartment. He's made it clear that he can destroy me -- but then want's me to play uncle to this child.

The equity of the situation is terribly out of balance. If she wants money from me, I have no power to stop it. If he wants money from me when he turns 18, I have no power to stop it. Esentually, for the next 18 years, my life is an unstable mess that could collapse at anytime.

I really wish I knew what was best but I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

nk,

What rock have you been hiding under all these years? Geez. We have abortion on demand in this country. The "health of the mother" is a vary broad standard since the word health does not have any specific meaning.

And if you are referring to my posts then try for reading comprehension. Nowhere do I ADVOCATE abortion for any reason. I am demanding that women that sleep with me acknowledge in writing that they are responsible if they do get pregnant otherwise they should not sleep with me.

Nikolaides said...

Cathy asked me about my comment describing the not-all-that-infrequent scenario in my family law practice in which an unwed father who elects to raise a child alone can seek child support from the unwed mother. She remarked, "Because frankly, if true, it strikes me as ridiculously unfair as well -- penalizing a woman financially for the fact that the father decided to raise the child himself rather than allow her to put it up for adoption. Why should she have to pay for his unilateral decision?"

She has to pay for the same reason that a father has to pay for a mother's unilateral decision when the mother is the one who chooses not to place a child for adoption. The purpose of child support is not to penalize anybody, but to provide children with as much economic security as possible. Requiring support from an unwilling parent only seems "ridiculously unfair" when you leave the child's rights and needs out of the equation. Child support law proceeds from the basic assumption that a child has a right to economic support from both of its parents. This right is not dependent on whether or not the child was "wanted." Remember that the child had nothing to do with either parent's decision-making.

With your use of the word "penalize," you seem to be thinking of child support as a punishment of some sort. It's not. Fault has nothing to do with it. While parents who are required to pay high levels of support may certainly experience the financial consequences as punitive, the system is not intended to reward or punish. It is simply intended to provide children with as much economic security as possible and, not incidentally, to keep them off the welfare rolls so that taxpayers don't have to support them.

That's why all the arguments about unfairness to men, while understandable, aren't likely to get very far, in my opinion. In the end, once children have been born, they need to be cared for. Those available to take care of them fall into three categories: mothers, fathers, and taxpayers. As inequitable as the present system may be to fathers (and as a parent of teenaged sons, I agree that the danger to young men of becoming trapped in a financial situation they did not expect and cannot escape is both high and frightening), I do not think it is realistic to expect that taxpayers will be sufficiently impressed with the "fathers' rights" issues at stake here to take on the burden of supporting those children whose mothers can't afford to do it alone.

From a cold-hearted, budgetary point of view, there is a big difference between the consequences of a mother's decision to opt out of a pregnancy through abortion and the proposal to allow men to opt out of fatherhood when they would have preferred abortion, but the woman in question has not made that choice. As a result of the mother's abortion decision, no child who needs support comes into existence. But a child does come into existence when the father "opts out." And that child will get hungry and need sneakers and underwear and a home. Statistically speaking, if support does not come from both of a child's parents, there is a substantially increased risk that some of it will have to come from government -- and taxpayers don't like that!

Yes, it is true that there is an profound inconsistency between according rights to the child in the matter of child support while not according comparable rights to the child in regard to abortion. (Essentially, in our present legal system, a mother's decision not to abort a pregnancy vests her child wtih the rights of a human being.) And yes, it is true that mothers and fathers do not have comparable rights of choice. But the only way to give true parity to mothers and fathers in the decision whether a child who will need support is to be born in the first place would be to allow men who do not wish to become fathers to force unwilling mothers to have abortions. I doubt that many of us would find such a system more "just" than our present situation.

As for details of individual cases, I obviously can't breach confidentiality with names. But I can say that it is not unusual at all in my practice for mothers to pay child support to fathers who have custody, without regard to whether or not the parents had ever been married or had both chosen the birth. In one case I remember in my area, an infant who had been privately placed by its mother with adoptive parents was returned to the biological father when he changed his mind about the adoption within the legal grace period. Very young, he raised the child for the first several years with the help of his parents. The also-very-young mother began paying child support when she was old enough to enter the workforce. Later, the parents decided together to move to a shared-custody arrangement. This case may not be typical, but believe me, it's not particularly unusual.

I suspect the reason that you do not usually hear child support discussed at the same time that custody issues are being decided between unwed parents is that, in my state at least and I think also in many others, child support is generally handled through an entirely separate set of procedures in a different court. This separation was made intentionally in my jurisdiction, in order to try to keep the issue of a child's right to support separate from the parents' rights to custody and visitation.

Long comment -- I'm sorry -- but this just isn't a simple subject.

rosignol said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Lori Heine wrote" Lovely morals you heteros have."

Hmmmm. Lovely bigotry you GABLEs have. You are not posting about me in your attack on breeders. Now, I breed, and have with God's grace been blessed with four children. Raising them all Christian too.

But contrary to your bigotry, my wife and I are trying to raise them to be accepting, kind human beings. Grow up, people are people and there are JUST as many mean, rude, and prejudiced people of one subgrouping as any other. This is not men v. women or gay v straight. It is an interesting question of human rights.

I pay child support for my daughter from my first marriage. I am ordered to pay $125 A MONTH. I pay $420 because even though my daughter lives with me half time because it is the right thing to do. I did not father any children out of marriage because it is the wrong thing to do. So this is not just a human rights issue, it is a moral and spiritual issue. But do some thinking and stop the bashing.

Trey

nk said...

Most states are moving away from the rule rosignol refers to, that everyone is estopped from questioning the legitimacy of a child born in wedlock except in a divorce proceeding on the grounds of adultery. It is being replaced by paternity statutes with a relatively short (two to five years) statute of limitations for either claims for child support or custody/visitation. A notorious California case, by the way, made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which upheld California's estoppel rule as not violative of equal protection or due process.

As for the anonymous who addressed me directly, I repeat: There is no presumption in favor of abortion. No more than there is a presumption in favor of limb amputation. Not in the law and not, I believe, in society. The most liberal standard is that "it is necessary".

What we have with these so-called "men" who feel victimized by the women they mske pregnant is a despicably selfish, petulant and childish outlook. It makes sense that they may mate with the same kind of snakes they are and find that they cannot live together to raise a child. I only feel sorry for the children. Perhaps the laws we need are laws that make it easier to take the children away from them and place them with good parents.

Officeronin said...

Ampersand said: "According to the Census Bureau (pdf link), about 15% of people paying support for a child under 21 are women. About 55% of women paying child support are doing so under a child support agreement or court order, compared to 80% of men paying child support." Well, if that's true, than just over 89% of the folks paying child support under an agreement or a court order are men. Were you really trying to advocate that there is no injustice?

Nikolaides said...

Officeronin, more information is needed before anyone can tell whether that statistic reveals an injustice. Without knowing the relative percentages of households in which single mothers have custody and those in which single fathers have custody, the statistic about fathers as a percentage of court-ordered support payers is meaningless. Then you'd also want to know the percentages by which custody was awarded to the mother or father by courts and those in which the parents came to their own custody agreement.

Then, since most states' support formulas take the income of both parties into account in determining the amount for which a non-custodial parent is liable, you are also going to have to know the comparative incomes of your two groups of parents. And on and on and on.

Statistics are dangerous little critters, and generally not worth nearly the large amounts of trust we tend, as a society, to place in them.

Anonymous said...

I see the logic in the man's argument, and the analogy to Roe v. Wade, but I still wonder why this case, rather than a case in which the man did not consent to sex in any form, was brought as a test case.

There are far more attractive scenarios to sue over -- like the underage boy who is pressured by an adult woman to have sex, and then forced to pay child support for 20 years as a result.

For example, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals forced a teenager to pay a third of his net income in child support to a woman who raped him by having sex with him while he was asleep. (The headnotes of that case, S.F. v. State ex rel. T.M. (1996), are set forth below).

Wouldn't someone similar to that teenager have been a much more effective plaintiff?

There is a broad societal consensus that rape victims should not be forced to bear their rapist's child.

So why are male rape victims forced to pay a big chunk of their income in child support to their rapists?

And why do feminists applaud this result, defending the Alabama decision whenever I raise it?

By contrast, the man in the "Roe for men" suit discussed in the above post was merely tricked by his girlfriend about whether she was using birth control and could get pregnant. That deceit was reprehensible, but I'm ambivalent about whether it totally absolves him of any responsibility for the ensuing child. After all, few forms of birth control are absolutely 100 percent reliable.

I do think the deceit should at the very least be taken into consideration in any future motions to increase or decrease his child support.

While I can see the argument that the child should not be deprived of adequate support because of its mother's deceit, if the mother is able to adequately support the child on her own, I see little reason for the father to be forced to pay the standard child support guideline amount, which typically exceeds the actual cost of raising children.

(Child support guidelines typically require the father to pay more in child support than it actually costs to raise a child, constituting a windfall for the mother. Such a windfall is unjust when the mother's deceit is the only reason the father is on the hook for child support).

West's published summary of the Alabama case I described above is as follows:

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama.

S.F.
v.
STATE ex rel. T.M.

2950025.

Nov. 22, 1996.

Rehearing Denied Jan. 10, 1997.
Certiorari Denied May 30, 1997
Alabama Supreme Court 1960744.

State brought action to establish paternity and sought child support. The Franklin Circuit Court, John D. Jolly, J., entered judgment for state, and adjudicated father appealed on due process grounds, contending that he did not knowingly and willfully have sex with child's mother.

The Court of Civil Appeals, Yates, J., held that adjudicated father was obliged to support child, regardless of whether conception resulted from sexual assault by mother.

Affirmed.

Nikolaides said...

Fascinating case, anonymous -- thanks for the citation! I just read it quickly and it was decided squarely on the ground that the child's need for and right to support exists without regard to whether or not the parents chose for it to be conceived or born.

The decision also includes some very significant facts that were left out of the West summary. The father was not just asleep during the alleged sexual assault -- he had passed out as a result of his own voluntary intoxication. Here is his testimony as summarized in the decision:

"S. F. testified that in September 1992, he had attended a party at T. M.'s house. He stated that before he went to the party, he had been drinking for several hours at a nightclub and that he had gotten sick on the way to T. M.'s house. He further stated that he does not remember how much he had to drink at T. M.'s house, but that the last thing he remembers of that night was vomiting and then his brother and T. M. putting him in bed at T. M.'s house. S. F. testified that [**5] when he was put to bed he was clothed, but that when he awoke the following morning he was wearing only his unbuttoned shirt and that T. M. was standing in the bathroom doorway "toweling off." He stated that he did not remember having sex with T. M. and that he did not knowingly and purposefully have sex with her."

On most issues, the law does not accept voluntary intoxication as a defense to allegations that depend on the free intent and choice of an actor. If alcohol interferes with a person's ability to make reasoned choices, the rationale seems to run, well, the person made a previous reasoned choice to drink and to give up that faculty. I think the fact that this father was intoxicated and had made himself helpless is significant to the outcome of this case.

The decision also indicates that the Alabama child support statute in question gives no latitude to a judge to exempt an adjudicated father from paying support, so that the court would not have been free to do this even if it had been more sympathetic to the father's position. In other words, it was the legislature, not a judge, who imposed the obligation on the father. The father's argument that the statute was unconstitutional was rejected.

The decision cites a couple of other cases in which fathers were held liable for support after being victims of statutory rape. In neither case does it seem to have been alleged that the fathers were actually unwilling to participate in sex -- just legally incapable of consenting to the act under the statutory rape laws. Both decisions, like the one cited by anonymous, seem to depend in the end on the idea that the consent or lack of consent of a parent to the conception and/or birth of a child does not invalidate the child's need for economic support. (It's pretty hard to imagine a court holding a raped woman liable to her rapist for child support if, somehow, he ended up raising a child born from the crime.) I certainly agree with Anonymous that this factual situation would have created a much more sympathetic reaction than the one in the case presently causing all the controversy.

Jim said...

Darleen,

"Do you hate your mom?"

Stupid and chiildish of you.

I love my mother and she has hated the stay-at-home role she was forced into for a lifetime. Back in the 50's that was about all that was available.

Don't even start about partnerships. What partnership did you have? What was your economic contribution to the partneship? How much of a dowry did you bring into the marriage? You have admitted you had no income to contribute. It was one thing when a housewife's work of milling grain and baking bread, spinning and weaving were the difference between a family living or dying, but that has all been industrialized away. From the description you give of your marriage, your contribution was sex, reproduction - concubine; and child rearing - nanny. That is not partnership. And even if I were to concede that it were, you admit to a condition of dependency after the end of the relationship. That is also not partenrship.

Perhaps you are referring to child support rather than "maintenance" but since in no state is there a legal requirement that child support be spent only on the child/children, that is a dsitinction without a difference.

Question for you about custody - why if you were financially unable to provide for your children did you get custody. Wait, I already know - because that is customary and accepted, regardless of any sense or fairness. Mothers overwhelmingly get custody, regardless of drug problems or the presence of violent boyfriends.

And that is the crux of this question - the issue of equal authority all reproductive issues, in birth and in raising children that are after the children of both parents, not just the mother. The issue is not only shared responsiblity, which we basically alla gree on, but on shred or equal authority, which only the gender bigots and pigs take issue with.

Anonymous said...

The home nurse who drugged her patient is a rapist - or is at least commiting sexual assualt (sexual assaulter doesn't sound right). She also is seriously violating whatever terms of care her profession has-

She should be charged with rape, lose her home nursing license, and be sued by the father for abuse.

aaron said...

I've thought this for a while. Rather than trying to resolve the unanswerable question of when life begins, we should ask "How long should each party have to opt out of responsibility?". Each party could be given a democratically determined number of months to opt out of responsibility from the point of awareness. For men to opt out, they would need to fill out a form with a fee approximately equal the price of an abortion. If the woman chooses an abortion, part of the fee would be applied toward the cost of the abortion.

Katherine said...

Someone asked a few posts back whether men couldn't just legally terminate their parental rights, thus also terminating their obligations. No, they can't, and that's what this lawsuit is essentially about. The only way a man can "terminate" his parental obligations is when the state and mother agree that he's so extraordinarily unfit that it would be in the best interests of the child (and this is very rare, even in cases where the father is a drug-addict, abusive, or homeless). It's much more common that his rights to visit the child will be terminated or curtailed, while his financial obligations remain intact.

American family law is entirely incoherent. Not only are women granted rights that men don't have (in contravention of our constitutional guarantee of equal protection), but children with UNmarried parents have numerous rights that children with married parents don't have. No state will force a married father to spend a certain amount of his income on his child. So essentially, a child who has a father than sits on the couch smoking pot all day, and works 10 hours a week is screwed if his father happens to be married to his mother. But if that same father is unmarried, a court can not only force him to fork over a major portion of his income, but can force him to work full-time at the highest-paying job available (imputed income). Moreover, many states now require unmarried fathers to pay for their child's college education - yet no state provides the same benefit to children of married parents (granted, a few courts have struck down these laws on equal protection grounds as discriminatory against children of married parents, but most courts reject that argument). Under this system, a father that unwillingly has a child at age 20, and then later marries and has a planned child at age 30, can be forced to pay for the first child's education, even to the detriment of the second child. No money left for the marital child's college education? Too bad.

Because the state requires nothing more than the most minimal level of support for a child's necessities when parents are married, unmarried fathers should not legally be *forced* to pay more than that amount (although many would do so happily). Under the current regime, child support amounts are not actually set by a child's needs - they're set by the father's income. This means that a wealthy father will end up paying far more money than any child reasonably needs. Conversely, a father with *NO* ability to pay is always forced to pay something (go down to your local homeless shelter sometime and ask for a show of hands as to how many men have an order against them to have their wages garnished as soon as they earn any measly paycheck - you'll be astounded).

A full financial opt-out for unwilling fathers will never fly in this country, even though it's the only true way to achieve equal protection under the law. However, to mitigate the current extreme unfairness to men, child-support orders should be set at the same level that a state would make welfare payments - this at least treats all children the same as far as their right to support. Alternatively, custodial parents should at least be required to give an accounting of how they use child support funds to prove that they're used for the child. One of the reasons child support creates so much resentment is because the payor can't be sure that the payee isn't out using the money for their own personal luxuries.

Last, I'm curious if anyone knows how the law treats unwilling fathers in Europe? I may be mistaken, but I believe that some countries don't impose support orders on unwilling, unmarried fathers? Of course, the European social safety net is much stronger, so they don't face the same problems with potential child poverty that we do.

beenaround said...

Nicolaides opined:


On most issues, the law does not accept voluntary intoxication as a defense to allegations that depend on the free intent and choice of an actor. If alcohol interferes with a person's ability to make reasoned choices, the rationale seems to run, well, the person made a previous reasoned choice to drink and to give up that faculty. I think the fact that this father was intoxicated and had made himself helpless is significant to the outcome of this case.


Hmmm, I imagine others have already commented, but by that argument a woman who had sex without her knowledge because she was intoxicated should not be allowed to claim rape.

Moreover, as other have stated, it seems that being intoxicated is one way to void a contract that you have entered into.

Anonymous said...

>> Alternatively, custodial parents should at least be required to give an accounting of how they use child support funds to prove that they're used for the child. One of the reasons child support creates so much resentment is because the payor can't be sure that the payee isn't out using the money for their own personal luxuries.

And the payor can't spend the money the way he would prefer. Say for example a father with visitation sees the kids with shabby clothes for months, and decides to buy them some new ones. There is NO way for this to reduce his already-crushing financial obligation.

So as you can see, the present setup actually creates strong disincentives to a father's natural instinct to provide for his children. That some fathers do these things ANYWAY, is a well-deserved slap in the face of those who would claim that fathers don't care as much for their children as women.

But it should come as a suprise to no one that slavery kills the slave's willingness to do more than the 'man with the whip' demands. We learned this again with the collapse of communism (where nearly everyone was a virtual slave), and we see it now in the modern comeback of wage-slavery and debtor's prison for men.

Nikolaides said...

It's not QUITE true that a father's rights are never terminated except in cases of abuse, though almost. I have seen two cases in which a non-abusive father was allowed to terminate his relationship and obligation to his children -- in one case, because of a long-standing rift between an indigent father and his teenaged daughters, who had been refusing to visit him for years; and in another case in which both parents were extremely young and extremely poor and there were a number of other complicating factors. In neither case was unwillingness to pay child support the reason for the termination. No court that I've ever heard of will do that.

Somebody mentioned requiring custodial parents to account to support-paying parents for the use of child support money. Eleven states have that requirement already. I'll bet we'll soon see more.

As for intoxication as a valid defense to a contract, I believe that's true under some circumstances. That doesn't have anything to do with the laws applicable to rape, however. In the case of the intoxicated father that we were discussing, the court specifically mentioned that the father could have brought criminal charges against the woman who took advantage of his intoxicated state, but did not do so. His drunkenness made her conduct more, not less, culpable, exactly as it would have if the sexes were reversed. (She sounds, by the way, like a real prize -- she apparently bragged to somebody that by having sex with the intoxicated father, she had "avoided a trip to the sperm bank." All you can do in a case like that is to feel sorry for the poor child, who really lost out, big-time and on both sides, in the good-parents lottery.)

Essentially, in the case of the intoxicated father, his consent to sex was found to be irrelevant, intoxicated or not, because the statute as written by the legislature gave the court no latitude to exempt the father, once adjudicated as such, from his support obligation.

beenaround said...

Nicolaides stated:


In the case of the intoxicated father that we were discussing, the court specifically mentioned that the father could have brought criminal charges against the woman who took advantage of his intoxicated state, but did not do so. His drunkenness made her conduct more, not less, culpable, exactly as it would have if the sexes were reversed.


Ahhh, sounds like she had better gamesmanship. Had he taken her to court over the sexual assualt, she might have relented on the support issue.


(She sounds, by the way, like a real prize -- she apparently bragged to somebody that by having sex with the intoxicated father, she had "avoided a trip to the sperm bank."


Seems like she lost out in the long term then because he doesn't seem to be holding a full deck of cards in the IQ department.

Anonymous said...

I have some sympathy for the argument advocating the termination of paternal rights and obligations, due to my own circumstances. A good long while ago my then-ex girlfriend turned up pregnant, despite using the pill. We had talked about birth control and talked about abortion, which she was in favor of. The pregnancy occurred at the end of a rough period in the relationship and happened right before we (I) broke up. She decided that she believed in abortion in the abstract, but not the first person. I have paid support since then. I'm not a custodial parent, the break-up stuck the ex-gf married someone else.
It is hard not to be attracted to the idea of being able to say "Wait! I never wanted a child and took precautions to avoid one so I shouldn't be obligated". This is especially true given the burden of child support, which is allocated in my jurisdiction by adding the parents income, designating a percentage of the combined income "support" and then deciding each parent's share of support based upon amount of custody and relative percentage of the combined income. "Support" doesn't include child care or medical expenses, those get added on. Consequently, I pay more in child support than I pay for anything except taxes. Child support has been my biggest bill for my professional live, more than student loans, car loans, mortgage, or anything else by a considerable margin. Further, I don't have much career freedom, changing jobs or career paths now would mean a temporary reduction in wages and I cannot count on a concommitant reduction in support obligation, even though such a change would likely result in a larger salary down the road. Two of the times that my salary increased, the support formula resulted in me taking home considerably less money. So, while I've never tried to dodge the obligation, it is pretty hard to pay cheerfully.
Of course, in contrast, I've seldom spoken to a single/divorced mother who is getting all the support due to her. I don't know how the deadbeats get away with it. I'd lose my license to practice, job, and a bunch of other stuff.
Nearly finally, Nikolaides has it exactly right, in my opinion. The current support structure is designed to provide support for children regardless of economic or social fairness and will not change given that goal. I can personally attest that there is significant social disapproval of a father who does no more than pay support, the plaintiff in the suit referenced in the original posting is coming from a weak position.
A side note to the commentor above saying "use a condom". Join the real world. Woman "why are you using a condom, I told you I'm on the pill?" Man "I'm just more comfortable with a condom" Woman "Do you have a disease?" Man "No" Woman "Do you think I do?" Man "No" Woman "Then why?" Man "Failure rates of the pill freak me out" Woman "So, you'll sleep with me but you can't stand the idea of having a child with me?" End of relationship. That is nearly verbatim of an actual discussion, apart from extraneous and subsequent unpleasantness. Fine, you may say, don't sleep with someone you aren't willing to have a child with. Congrat's I say, on your omniscient prediction of behavior and character of those you become involved with.

Revenant said...

Holy cats, there's some serious misogyny and misandry going on around here. Couldn't we just agree that there are plenty of examples of men and women doing horrible things to each other, and get back on the topic of rights and obligations?

And enough with the "your race is dying off" stuff. That's Pat Buchanan thinking. Even if it was true, who cares? The color of a citizen doesn't determine his or her worth.

Jim said...

"Holy cats, there's some serious misogyny and misandry going on around here."

True, and I take some of the nasty tone but not the substance of some of my comnets. There is nothing in life more imporatnat that one;s children, and no better reason to beat someone else up than when they threaten that. That's going to drag both men and women into the fray. Note however how many people of both genders are fulay bale to dsee all sides of the questions. That is cause for hope.

Anonymous said...

One thing that bothers me is that so many people still use this language of a man "getting a woman pregnant." That turns pregnancy into something that a man does to a woman, rather than with her. Short of rape, that's not the case. The same applies to the idea that a woman gets herself impregnated (although that is technically possible, since she can choose artificial insemination). It is also an unfortunate view, and one that seems oddly to be shared both by some traditionalists and some feminists. That view needs to be flushed away before we can have a real discussion on how to balance the freedoms and responsibilities of both parents.

This area is deeply problematic because it is rife with questions that present deep tension between freedom and societal obligation. Constitutionalizing abortion may or may not have been the right thing, but folks need to own up to the fact that it did shift the balance between freedom and obligation. Admitting that Roe may have given rise to some social problems and inequity doesn't necessarily lead to the conclusion that abortion should not be protected. It simply means that we have to figure out how to solve those problems/inequities or learn how to live with them the best we can. It ain't gonna be easy, and something tells me someone's gonna get screwed (no pun intended).

Smitty said...

Suppose a man copyrights his DNA would copyright laws & rights apply?

"Hey stop that unauthorized reproduction"

In the very near future your specific DNA could be worth billions especially if you own the only anti-cancer gene or the high IQ gene or.....

Revenant said...

Suppose a man copyrights his DNA would copyright laws & rights apply?

No, because he could only plausibly copyright the entirety of his DNA (the individual genes having been "created" by earlier people). And the child doesn't have the entirety of his DNA; it has half of it, organized differently.

He could claim that the child was a "derivative work" of his own DNA, I suppose, but it would be a jointly-created one in which he had only a 50% stake.

Anonymous said...

I have a proposal for a simple compromise:

Paternity applies only if a man is married to the mother at the time of conception. A man should also be able to challenge paternity based on DNA.

Otherwise, all responsibility for a child born out of wedlock is on the mother. She can decide unilaterally to grant paternal rights, or not.

In any case, this entire controversy will be obsoleted by the arrival of the first practical male birth control (by practical, I mean that doesn't interfere with sexual pleasure). After that, any man who gets knocked up deserves what he gets, and I don't care whether the law is fair.

cathleen said...

The argument that men should not have to pay child support because women can have abortions is about as logical as saying men should not have to pay child support if women can use IUDs, which prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg.

I have always been torn when it comes to making men (or women) pay child support. However when we start making the issue of child support about men not being able to have a say over abortion the issue becomes about men not having to pay child support because they cannot control women's bodies. If that becomes the standard then pregnancy becomes completely commodified. Women should then charge the going market rate for pregnancy and birth fees, unrelated to any medical expenses or child support payments, if men want to be fathers. If men, married or single, refuse to pay then they get no legal rights when a child is born.

I have always believed that men and women should be able to opt out of child support if it is going to cause them undue financial harm. It is often the case that men and women are unfairly charged, for more than they can afford and that should change. However, if they can pay somthing they should.

The issue is comprable to being taxed. My neighbors and I cannot pick and choose who in our community can have children and who cannot. If we could that would be facism. Therefore we cannot pick and choose which children in our community are entitled to an education even if we don't want them or their parents around.

Brian said...

Contra Darleen, there has been no demonstrated reduction in children abandoned in dumpsters (etc.) as a result of safe haven laws. It is in fact unlikely that people who would toss a child into a dumpster would ever be aware of safe haven laws. Safe haven laws do nothing but checkmate fathers of abandoned children.

I know this because a friend of mine, whose child was deliberately put up for adoption without his knowledge or consent, has become quite expert on the subject. It would profit some of the commenters here to visit his site at http://www.eriksmith.org.

mythago said...

And as far as the law is concerned, any woman *can* get an abortion.

Nope. Why don't you go and read what Roe actually says? Doing so would make it plain how ridiculous 'extending Roe to men' is--since the point of Roe is balancing the woman's privacy right against the state's interest in fetal life.

Yes, that's if the father is identified.

As you may recall, the whole Baby Jessica issue came about because the father wasn't identified. And if you want to cite legal precedent that deprives unmarried fathers of their right to stop an adoption at the same time as it imposes parental obligations on them, by all means, do. I'd oppose such laws as vigorously as you do.

You also misunderstand 'safe haven' laws. They don't end custody. All they do is decriminalize the act of abandonment.

The fact that you keep skipping over is that biology sticks only one person, the woman, with the actual pregnancy. It's ridiculous to call a father's opt-out a "paper abortion"--as though filling out a form were anything like having your uterus vacuumed, or carpet-bombing your system with hormones.

I do agree that we need to talk honestly about men's reproductive rights, which is why I support an opt-IN procedure. Opt-OUT is just another way to screw women, bluntly.

Ampersand said...

Anonymous (please pick a name!) wrote: So why are male rape victims forced to pay a big chunk of their income in child support to their rapists?

And why do feminists applaud this result, defending the Alabama decision whenever I raise it?


I wrote earlier this very thread that I don't think victims of rape should have to pay child support.

(In my view, child support laws serve two important interests: providing children with support, and providing parents - in practice, men - with a motivation to avoid becoming parents to unwanted children. Since forcing a rape victim to pay child support doesn't serve the latter interest, there's less reason to support child support in that case. Plus, I find the unfairness to fathers who had NO real choice to be much more compelling than the unfairness to fathers who had choices, but are unhappy because they don't have identical choices to women).

By contrast, the man in the "Roe for men" suit discussed in the above post was merely tricked by his girlfriend about whether she was using birth control and could get pregnant.

Are you certain he was purposely tricked? I had read somewhere that the woman had been misinformed, and genuinely beleived that she was sterile. But I don't know if that's accurate, either.

Brian said...

mythago,

Safe haven laws do more than decriminalize abandonment. They make abandonment entirely anonymous, making it difficult if not impossible for the other biological parent to receive due process. It is difficult to see any point to safe haven laws other than as an end-run around adoption requirements.

mythago said...

brian, the intent of safe-haven laws is to try and save the life of the newborn--so that a woman who would abandon her child at least won't throw the baby in the Dumpster. Whether they are effective is a whole different matter.

On the 'rape victims paying support' issue, I find it odd that nobody is complaining about 'rapists having custody of the child', which is in my mind a more serious issue.

But from a legal perspective, what's going on is that the laws about rape are separate from the civil laws about child support. The court in the case of the teenage boy didn't say "We don't care, sonny, you better support your kid." It reluctantly noted that the child support laws had no exemption for cases of rape; the law said that if you are a child's parent, you have to support that child, full stop. A court that said "But you're a rape victim--you're off the hook" would have been engaging in judicial activism.

We all hate judical activism, right? Not just when liberals do it? Just checkin'.

The solution to that situation is to cut off rapists from any custody of children conceived in rape (whether the rapist is male or female), as some states' laws already do. Then the teenaged boy could, if he wished, give the child up for adoption instead of being forced into fatherhood by rape.

Katherine said...

Mythago:

You said: "Why don't you go and read what Roe actually says? Doing so would make it plain how ridiculous 'extending Roe to men' is--since the point of Roe is balancing the woman's privacy right against the state's interest in fetal life."

I've read Roe many times, and I don't understand what you're saying. Roe says: 1. In the first trimester, a State can not interfere with a woman's choice to abort under any circumstances, 2. In the second trimester, a State may balance the interests of fetus and mother, and 3. In the third trimester, the state can protect the interests of the fetus by restricting abortion.

However, as I quoted in an earlier post, the mother's protectable "privacy rights" that the Court cites involve many of the same rights that a father wants protected (i.e. avoiding the financial and emotional burden of an unwanted child). So again, I don't understand why you're saying that some women can't legally get abortions. According the Supreme Court, they can. And in my opinion, much of Roe's analysis of privacy rights could be extended to fathers.

Casey overturned Roe's strict trimester approach and held that the state can't create any undue obstacle to a woman's choice to abort -- but this is arguably even more protective of the abortion-right than Roe was.

So again, when you say this:

"a fatherhood 'opt-out' gives men rights women don't have. A woman who can't get an abortion isn't let off the hook for any future parental obligations".

...I don't understand your reasoning. Legally, any woman *can* get an abortion, which lets her off the hook for parental obligations. So where's the extra right for men? Is your argument that exercising the right is more difficult for a woman because she has to go through a medical procedure and he has to fill out forms? True, but then we should make the father pay damages equal to half the cost/pain & suffering of an abortion.

mythago said...

katherine, you didn't, in your initial post, seem to notice that Roe does not grant an unlimited right to abortion. (Casey's "undue burden" test is hardly more liberal than Roe, unless you have a bright-line definition of "undue burden".) And if you think the right to privacy (as set out in Griswold and Eisenstadt encompasses the payment of child support, then no, you don't know what you're talking about. If you have an analysis of how the Fourth Amendment's penumbra extends to the financial obligation to support born children, by all means, lay it out.

Legally, any woman *can* get an abortion

No. Legally, any woman who is not a minor lacking parental notification/judicial bypass, and who is in her first trimester, has the legal right to obtain an abortion, if she is able to and complies with her state's rules about obtaining one. That's not the same as saying any woman can have an abortion.

The problem with the 'opt out' are the real-life facts of pregnancy--I don't know why you shrink from those. A woman has to learn she is pregnant, arrange for and pay for the abortion. If she does not obtain the abortion by the end of the first trimester, the cost and difficulty of the abortion go up significantly.

In an opt-out system, the woman may refrain from aborting because until the man opts out, he is legally obligated should a child be born. So what happens if he says "I want to be a daddy" and then quietly fills out a form at 11 weeks and 6 days? Or if he simply changes his mind, leaving her to scramble to pay for and schedule the abortion? What if she finds out she's pregnant at 13 weeks? Conversely, what if the mother is unable to find the father to tell him he can opt out? What happens if he attempts to opt out, but misses the deadline because he messes up his paperwork or doesn't learn of the pregnancy?

An opt-IN system protects both parties. The father doesn't have to worry that he's going to be stuck with a child if he wanted to opt out. There will be no "guess what, you're a father" surprises, forcing him to go to court to prove he never got a chance to opt out. Additionally, there is no incentive for a woman to try to 'trap' a man with pregnancy--he isn't responsible unless he decides to be. And she doen't have to worry that he'll change his mind and back out of fatherhood after she's relied on him saying he wants to be a father.

If you're asking why opt-out gives men rights women don't have, it's because the law does not predicate women's responsibility for their children on their ability to obtain an abortion. If your boyfriend kidnapped you, raped you and locked you in a basement for nine months until you gave birth, you aren't free of parental obligations to that child. Opt-out gives men an absolute right to walk away from a baby under any and all circumstances. Women don't have that right.

Revenant said...

a fatherhood 'opt-out' gives men rights women don't have. A woman who can't get an abortion isn't let off the hook for any future parental obligations

The obvious solution to that problem -- assuming it exists, which is unlikely -- is to only allow the "opt-out" for pregnancies which may legally be aborted.

mythago said...

What's wrong with an opt-in system? It certainly makes for less need for lawyers.

Cathy Young said...

mythago, what exactly does your "opt-in" proposal entail?

mythago said...

First, I presume all the 'opting' we're talking about applies to unmarried persons.

"Opt-in" means that an unmarried father is presumed to have neither rights nor obligations to his offspring, unless and until he declares his interest in being the child's father. He would have a certain period of time in which to assert paternity. That period of time could be altered if, say, the mother concealed the pregnancy from him. If he did not do so, he is forever off the hook, as well as out of the picture.

The benefits to men: No Father's Day surprises, no incentive for one's female partner to lie about contraception, some control over whether or not they will be fathers.

The benefits to women: no misplaced reliance (he is not obligated until he signs the paperwork), no fear that an adoption will be undone, no worry that if the father abandons her, that he will be able to pop up later and insert himself into the family. For lesbian couples, no need to rely on anonymous donors out of fear of paternity suits.

And unlike opt-in, it doesn't require us to dicker in court over whether the mother had the ability or opportunity to abort, how the father's willingness or ability to pay for part of the abortion costs affects his rights, or whether his own use or non-use of contraceptives should impact on his ability to 'opt out.'

colagirl said...

Interesting proposal, mythago--elegant and intuitive. It seems (and this may or may not be a good thing) to fit with the way in which unwed fatherhood has historically worked, only this time without the heavy stigma against the woman, and with the woman having a similar choice (abortion or birth control). I like what you pointed out--that this removes the possibility of women being able to "trap" a man by lying about birth control. I think this proposal also removes one of my main concerns about "opt-out"--that it could via a slippery slope potentially lead to fathers being able to legally decline responsibility for already-born children whom they had previously been caring for (this possibly comes out of my family history :D).

The only concern I can see offhand (since you addressed the problem of a concealed pregnancy by stipulating that the time limit could be extended if the woman kept the pregnancy from him) is what would happen if a man opted into a pregnancy and then later found out that it was not his child. Suggestions? :)

Cal said...

Mythago: I can't see what you were all worked up about in earlier posts, because what you propose is fundamentally Roe vs. Wade for men.

"The benefits to women: "

The only women who benefit are the small percentage who want to have a child without the hassle of a father.

Women lose huge with your proposal, because they lose all control.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for it. But there are no benefits to women that they don't have now in fact, if not in law. And they lose all rights to hold out their hand to men for money. Given that this removes the entire premise for welfare, we'll either have to revisit welfare and take it away from women who never had a responsible father around--or go back to welfare before we reformed it.

Unwed Fathers Fight for Babies Placed for Adoption by Mothers

Cathy Young said...

mythago, I think your proposal is quite interesting (I'll have more to comment tomorrow), though it seems to me that it leaves women with even less likelihood of receiving child support than the "opt-out" proposal. In your version, the default position is that an unmarried man has no responsibilities for (or rights to) a child he fathers. The only reason I'm hesitant about it is that it may contribute to men's alienation from their children. But it's definitely something worth considering.

Cal, thanks for the interesting link, by the way!

JamesR said...

I notice cal linked to the NYTimes article. I think those people who claim that babies cannot be legally adopted without bio-dad's consent need to understand that what legal consent means these days in many states. It doesn't mean "agree to" or even "be aware of". Those putative father registries have changed all that. If bio dad doesn't dutifully report all sexual relationships to the state registry, any child resulting from non-reported relationships is deemed to have bio-dad's consent for adoption. IOW, dad forfeits potential future rights, but not potential future responsibilities.

Contrast that with the so called safe haven laws, where mom can not only forfeit both rights and obligations for herself, but bio-dad as well. And the poster who seemed to think that the gender neutral language of many of those state laws means that it provides equal rights to both bio-mom and bio-dad is mistaken. Bio-mom is also legal mom. Bio-dad is only putative father, not legal dad. So under these laws, he has no way to accomplish that which mom can accomplish: be the bio-parent and unilaterally walk away with no obligation. And these safe-haven laws exist in, at last count, 46 of the 50 states.

I spent many years discussing these issues, and concepts such as opt in and opt out. But all such proposals really miss the point, IMHO. What's needed today is for there to be a societal discussion about the role of fathers. If we think they are an important aspect to a child's life, then we should create obligations upon fathers to support and nurture them, and pair those with rights helping them to do so, which will inevitably create obligations upon women to honor those rights. If we think fathers are unnecessary, let us remove these innate rights and obligations from the biological act and DNA consequences, and come up with other default assumptions.

We collectively need to come up with some underlying principle to drive how we approach the issue, otherwise all these "fixes" are arbitrary and frequently contradictory. We need to decide whether fathers making babies is a serious matter (i.e. child support collection) or a joke (i.e. putative father registries and safe haven laws). Otherwise we send a mixed signal, and risk ending up with the worst of all possible worlds.

David Blue said...

By default, neither a married nor an unmarried man has any right to a child he fathers, because the woman can abort.

(By the way, I think it's very bad that during nine months when the father should be bonding with his baby-to-be, it's a "Heisenberg baby" that's only there if the mother thinks it is. The unconditional sense of responsibility that underpins a lifetime of fatherhood should begin with a firmer first step.)

If an unmarried man fathers a child and the woman puts it up for adoption or abandons it at a designated site, this is a much lesser loss. He cannot find the child, but who knows? One day it may find him. Young children often need their fathers like a physical pain. Though the woman's rights over-ride the child's needs, the memory of that pain may lead the grown man or woman to seek out the father later.

But if the babe's put to death, all's utterly lost.

Back on the topic of Roe for men - I think it's insane and shouldn't be allowed.

These are not beautiful relationships we're discussing. They're bad ones where the man and the woman wind up in court.

Often, the woman will want to hurt the man all she can. As it stands, she can make him pay and pay - literally. But only if she lets the baby live. If she's deprived of that incentive, in many cases she'll hurt him by killing his child.

It'll be open season for vengeful slaughter. Millions will die.

It's insane for a society that wants to have a future to create an incentive structure where the safe, easy, legal and respected way for adults to hurt other adults that they're cross with is to kill the next generation.

I also think the idea is legally weak.

One of the things Casey said is: the court created a freedom around which women have planned their lives for decades, so the court should not take this right back. OK: the planning has taken place around the assumption: I can kill or I can collect, and either way the man has no rights. That gives the woman freedom to do what's good for her. If the court isn't supposed to take back a freedom once it gives it, it would be wrong to undo this gift.

Another thing Casey said is: the dignity of the court is too great for it to change its mind under pressure. (Of course if there's no pressure, that proves the original decision was right and the court won't change its mind. "There's a catch." "What catch?" "Catch 22...") The court has spoken. Women win. To the extent that women choose not to extinguish their rights with their lives, the rights of children then over-ride those of men. That's the social order the court has chosen. Invite the court to speak again at your peril.

Or if you say, no, Roe was wrong and Casey was wrong too, and the court should not be too proud to be merciful - then we never get to whether there should be a Roe for men "as well". There is no right for anybody to be irresponsible with the lives of babies, except as state legislatures may decide.

David Blue said...

JamesR said... "We need to decide whether fathers making babies is a serious matter (i.e. child support collection) or a joke (i.e. putative father registries and safe haven laws). Otherwise we send a mixed signal, and risk ending up with the worst of all possible worlds."

The worst of worlds is the one where the baby is killed. All the good worlds begin with life. Safe haven laws and child support collection both shift the incentive structure in favour of life, and so indirectly in favour of fatherhood. You can't father a dead baby.

I agree with you that there should be a serious discussion about fatherhood. Fathers may not be necessary to courts, but they are often desperately necessary to children.

And a father with no right to put his foot down and insist with some authority that the right thing be done for his kid is not a proper father. A lot of fathers don't care about doing the right thing anyway, and that has to be a major part of the discussion. But for those that do, the legal right to shrug your shoulders and say "sorry, kid" doesn't cut it.

vrimj said...

I largely agree with mythago's opt-in system, because I agree with the underlying idea. You are a parent when you act like one, that is when you make it clear that you intend to support and nuture a child.

This is basically the idea in "Horton Hatchs an Egg" and the Horton idea has a lot of benifits when dealing with complex reproductive choices like surrougate mothers and donor eggs.

The major congantive leap is considering parenthood a constructed rather then a natural realtionship. This is not as far fetched as it seems, in colonial times childern born to unwed mothers were considered to be wards of the city where they were born.

If parenthood is a constructed realtionship rather then a natural right then forcing parenthood is akin to focring marriage (and probably just as likely to be sucessful).

What I am not sure of is that men have any inherent right to play the role of father. I am not sure that, men who do not live with the woman who had the child (and thus support both woman and fetus) or have a agreement (marriage, domestic partnership, one-night stand contracts) should have any status to assert parenthood over the objection of the mother.

mythago said...

Cathy, to respond to your initial reaction: if you support an 'opt-out' system, you've already agreed that child support and the father's presence in the child's life are optional. You're just hesitating at the degree.

james, of course the laws vary by state (Oregon is popular for adoptions for that reason), but if a baby is adopted the biological father does not have any 'future obligations'.

And Cal, what I was worked up about was the notion that the biological realities of pregnancy ought not to be reflected in the law, and that abortion is as easily obtainable as a fill-in form from the courthouse.

As far as whether it is good for women--if we're starting from the premise that the current system is not fair to men because they can't have abortions, and we choose to ignore the realities of pregnancy, then opt-in is far better than opt-out.

tc said...

What men need is to file an injunction to have the project stopped!

The courts in the rush to satisify the stroking of the feminazis and many others some that really do mean well, all speaking on the "behalf" of the unborn or even the born, is that sometimes such decisions will but force a man to go off and do whatever for cash.

End result the state picks up the tab anyway. The state needs to get some balls and tell these women that this child of theirs, is in peril.

And yes I dared use the term "theirs"! I've looked at probably thousands of online adds, read way more posts of single women with kids. Divorced, or those that used to have b/f's and others that just got involved in a druken gang bang... It don't really matter. NOT a one of them EVER used language inconsistent with the singular possessivie of "MY' kids or MY children.

Most, meaning a huge majority can't even admit a man was involved at some level in the creation of said children. Many persons board use the term "sperm donator" as a description for the man they willingly spread their legs for and invite his deposit. I've already heard enough. I do not require a guide dog. (even though I'm old).

The courts also need to get past the shrilling screaming of abandonment and other such things that do happen, but on a much smaller scale than exclaimed by the "NOW" crowd.


The charge that only women are "responsible for birth control". Well REALITY 101, who's life is really going to be altered by having a child out of wedlock, a child totally unexpected and (if many women would actually be honest about such, unwelcomed at the time).?

To the ladies, YOU STILL hold the keys to sex! you always have, you always will. Today even if we have married you we do not hold such keys! So Please do not come off with your weak reasoning of a guy getting something for nothing! WE don't! And I'll suggest to you this also, if such a trend keeps up, Prostituition will increase and will beocme legal in every community across the country! Those of you that are indeed honorable will find that the plastic rabbit will become your only man left for pleasure.

"NOW" has forced the state to become the father of your children. In MI alone I read the proudness of some feller that is in charge of collecting from the unpaid fathers/mothers, that out of 100 Million they have actually collected 23 million in what is credited to past child support. My what a wonderful job!

Sunday said...

If the woman was dishonest she should not be allowed to profit by it. I am ashamed that a woman would do such a thing. She shows a callous disregard for not only the father of the child, but the child. A very selfish woman.

I would like to see child support insurance, or a tax parents pay on their children from birth up to adult to support their children`s children in. Although, I still would not think a person like this deserves to have a child. I cannot understand why someone would willingly put themselves or their child through this. So sad.

mythago said...

We collectively need to come up with some underlying principle to drive how we approach the issue, otherwise all these "fixes" are arbitrary and frequently contradictory.

By the way, jamesr, I couldn't agree more.

It makes little sense to argue that fathers are necessary, but only when they want to be, and they're more than a paycheck, but we shouldn't require them to be even that.

Revenant said...

I don't have a strong preference for "opt-in" OR "opt-out", but my feeling is that most men whose partner becomes pregnant and wishes to keep the child would like to participate in caring for it. If that is true then "opt-in" creates more paperwork and more hassle than "opt-out".

Also, requiring paperwork and legal hassles tends to encourage people who are on the fence to refrain from doing whatever would generate the inconvenience. So I'd rather the inconvenience be for those who do not wish to be parents, rather than those who do wish to be parents, simply because the latter would probably lead to a greater number of fatherless children.

Jim said...

vrimj,

You are right when you say:

"The major congantive leap is considering parenthood a constructed rather then a natural realtionship. This is not as far fetched as it seems,..."

There are masses of historical precedent for this position. In traditional China it was very coomon for childless wives to adopt the children of concubines in the household. It could get pretty ehartless - remember how in "Raise Red Lantern" the (sonless) second wife who engineers the thrid wife's death almost certainly ends up adopting that wife's now orphaned son.

But I don't agree with you when you say :

"What I am not sure of is that men have any inherent right to play the role of father. I am not sure that, men who do not live with the woman who had the child (and thus support both woman and fetus).."

How on earth does a man's realtionship with his choldren depend on his relationship with some woman? Does a woman's relationship to her children depend on whether she has a realtionship with their fathers? What you are implying here is that women have some right to their children that premepts men's rights to thier children. Did you really intend to say that children are the property of women, beause that is in fact what you say here.

Secondly, why on earth is a man obligated to support the mother? He is obligated to support his own children, not some other man's. If the woman is any kind of adult, with any kind of self-respect, she will surely want to support herself. Why would she want to live off some man? I can understand that one or the other of the parents may not be able to go out to work for the first couple of years, and that there would need to be a temporary acommodation for that, but the way you phrase your point does not necessarily give that reading.

mythago said...

but my feeling is that most men whose partner becomes pregnant and wishes to keep the child would like to participate in caring for it

Remember, we're only talking about unmarried couples here. For married couples, the rule is the same--the husband is presumed the father of the wife's children, with mutual rights and obligations. She can't put the baby up for adoption without his consent.

simply because the latter would probably lead to a greater number of fatherless children.

And here we go again. If the issue is 'fatherless children,' why on earth do we want to allow fathers to opt out? If the issue is fairness, then why support an opt-out system, which gives men special rights at the expense of women?

If the issue is merely the hassle factor, then I don't think you've really considered what happens when not everyone is thrilled with the outcome: men claiming they never got a chance to opt out, women claiming they were stuck with a pregnancy because the opt out was done late or done improperly, men who thought they were opting out discovering they filled out the form wrong and it's too late, women putting children up for adoption and men finding out the father never actually opted out...

Revenant said...

And here we go again. If the issue is 'fatherless children,' why on earth do we want to allow fathers to opt out?

It is possible, you realize, to feel both that fatherless children are undesirable and that fathers have no actual obligation to children they didn't want born? Fathers should be allowed to opt out because that is what is just. But because fatherless children are undesirable, the default condition should always be opting-in, in my opinion.

Certainly there are bad potential scenarios surrounding opting out, and you listed quite a few. But there are equivalent scenarios to opting in.

Boris Goodenough said...

Equity, shmequity!

Men’s groups would, IMHO, be better off pursing a Coasian solution – where it is of vital importance to establish simple, well-defined rights, and allow transactions to freely occur -- unhindered by law or morality. It doesn’t matter all that much if those rights seem fair or make any sense.

For instance, suppose we were to exaggerate the current "inequities," but at the same time, clarify them. Suppose on the men’s side, the Schlaffly-Dworkin bill passed. It takes the attitude that fathering an illegitimate, unwanted child is like a Chernobyl or the Exxon Valdez – it is an extremely expensive, negative externality caused by the libertine excesses of an irresponsible beast. So the bill reads something like this:

If a woman identifies the father of an illegitimate child she has given birth to, and DNA tests confirm it, then the man must immediately cough up $300,000 over to the state, regardless of the man’s income, past present or future, or willingness of the mother to marry him post-birth. Failure to immediately pay the funds would cause him to automatically be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or a reduced sentence.

On the women’s side, we take the opposite approach. This Chernobyl, this Exxon Valdez, suddenly becomes a precious gift to all humankind, and we must fear the pregnant woman who might take a different view. Anything that would encourage her to have a back-alley abortion, or dump the living child in a trash can must, in our society, be considered a huge negative externality, because the thought of it upsets people so much. So we pass the Kennedy amendment:

A child born out of wedlock will receive a $300,000 fund, assuming the mother accurately identifies the father. The mother will be able to draw from this fund at a steady rate. But if she later chooses to turn the child over to an adoption agency or to the biological father, she forfeits the remainder of the trust fund, but owes nothing.


Such a draconian measure (from the man’s point of view) would at least have the benefit of clarity. It would put the responsibility for birth control squarely in the man’s corner. The men’s contraceptive market would soon get new, viable choices. Until that time, it would cause the stock of companies that produce latex to skyrocket, and some men would deposit their sperm with a bank and then sterilize themselves, combined with condom usage, in addition to monitoring their partner’s cycle and begging the partner to take additional precautions.

But perhaps more importantly, the clarity of the law would allow an insurance industry to form, sort of like a pre-life-of-beneficiary life insurance policy, only the triggering event would not be the death of the man but rather the fathering of an illegitimate offspring. In order to stay in business, these insurance companies would need to avoid moral hazard by significantly increasing the premiums for a man who actually taps into the insurance fund, sort of like how car insurance rates jump up after each reported accident. Parents could (secretly) buy such an insurance policy for their teenage sons.

This system may seem extremely harsh to men, but I would venture that it would in the long run work out better, even for swinging men, than relying on the today’s uncertain rights, the pity of judges, and/or the wishes of their sexual partners.

Pablo said...

Cathy, to respond to your initial reaction: if you support an 'opt-out' system, you've already agreed that child support and the father's presence in the child's life are optional.

mythago, as a society we've established that having the child is optional. Let's not now say that we can't have an opt-out for fathers because it's too unseemly. If we can approve of one parent killing the kid, it's tough to justify insisting that the other has to raise it.

mythago said...

"The other has to raise it"? Actually, both have to raise it. Are you, too, under the incorrect impression that only the father has legal obligations to the child?

mythago, as a society we've established that having the child is optional.

Actually, we've established that under certain circumstances, aborting the pregnancy is optional. Once there is a child, as a society we've established that being a parent with obligations to that child is not optional.

It is possible, you realize, to feel both that fatherless children are undesirable and that fathers have no actual obligation to children they didn't want born?

It is possible to hold all kinds of inconsistent and logically contradictory views. "Children need fathers, unless of course those fathers don't especially want to be responsible for them" is not what I'd call consistent.

But there are equivalent scenarios to opting in.

I can think of one, which is the Baby Jessica problem. What there isn't is a scenario where the mother delays an abortion because the father hasn't yet walked off, or where if the mother cannot obtain an abortion, she is still stuck with the child but the father is off the hook.

I really don't understand the opposition to 'opt-in'.

Jim said...

"I really don't understand the opposition to 'opt-in'. "

The need for notification of the father. (What is the guy supposed to do, opt in every time he has sex?) The possibility for subterfuge. The lack of safeguards, all for starters.

Secondly, the opt out option more nearly resembles the abortion in that both require affirmative actions on the part of the parent and both result in the termination of parenting. The more closely options resemble each other, the less likely they are to be seaprate, right? - the likelier they are to be equal.

The opt out option has its sahre of problems. In fact it is also subject to interference by subterfuge, failure or refusal to notify the father in time - it also lacks enforceable safeguards.

Revenant said...

I can think of one, which is the Baby Jessica problem.

The only Baby Jessica I can think of is the one who got trapped in that pipe back in the 1980s. Not sure how that relates.

Here are a few "opt-in" problems directly paralleling the situations you described:

men claiming they never got a chance to opt out

Men claiming they never got a chance to opt in.

women claiming they were stuck with a pregnancy because the opt out was done late or done improperly

Women aborting children due to concerns the opt-in won't be finalized in time.

men who thought they were opting out discovering they filled out the form wrong and it's too late

Women getting abandoned later on when it turns out the opt-in was done improperly and the man has no obligations to her child after all.

women putting children up for adoption and men finding out the father never actually opted out...

Women putting children up for adoption and finding out the father had actually opted in...

Actually, I'm not clear why EITHER of those scenarios is necessarily bad, since in either case she could just transfer custody to the father.

What there isn't is a scenario where the mother delays an abortion because the father hasn't yet walked off, or where if the mother cannot obtain an abortion, she is still stuck with the child but the father is off the hook.

It will always be possible for people who act like complete and utter idiots to screw themselves over. I don't see any reason to give such people special legal protections. Any woman dumb enough to believe that the guy who gave her "I refuse to support your kid" papers plans to support her kid really shouldn't be passing on her genes to the next generation at all...

Revenant said...

One other possible problem with "opt-in": men might convince women that they don't need an agreement in writing, because of course he loves her and blah blah blah. An opt-out scenario forces the man to admit up front that he has no intention of paying for any kids.

mythago said...

revenant, of course opt-in is not perfect. But it's better than opt-out. The difference is this: current law obligates both mother and father to a born child. Opt-out means only the mother is obligated.

Opt-in, on the other hand, makes it clear to the woman that she's on her own from Day One unless and until the man signs the piece of paper.

Pregnancy is a nine-month process; the window for abortion is about three months, tops, in most cases. I don't see any value in forcing a woman to scramble to get a last-minute abortion because the father opts-out at the last minute. Remember, under opt out, he doesn't have to DO anything to prove he wants to be a daddy. He is unless he says otherwise. So unless you make the deadline for opt-out extremely short, a woman who waits to see whether or not her male partner will opt out has the clock ticking on her own ability to end the pregnancy.

You must be a young'un--Baby Jessica was an infant whose mother, while engaged to Guy A, had an affair with Guy B. The baby was Guy B's biological father. Needless to say, Mom lied about the paternity. The child was put up for adoption--supposedly with the father's consent--and, as I recall, Mom broke up with Guy A and got back with Guy B shortly thereafter, confessing all. They married, and the adoption was eventually reversed.

Raging Moderate said...

In order to clarify the "opt-in / opt-out" discussion, I propose Scarlett’s Law (named for the woman who suggested such a law to me on another site):

1. A man and a woman may enter into a Scarlett Contract (similar to a pre-nup) which states that the man will have no rights or responsibilities in regard to any child born to the couple. It would be legally binding (I’m no lawyer; how do you make a pre-nup legal? Do it that way.).

2. If a woman who signs a Scarlett Contract becomes pregnant with the man’s child, she has the options of A) aborting the fetus (the man pays half of any costs), B) giving birth and keeping the baby (the man pays for half of any medical expenses incurred during childbirth – but no child support), or C) putting the child up for adoption (the man pays half of any expenses).

3. The man has no parental rights regarding the child if the mother carries her to term. If he wishes at a later date to reclaim those rights, he must have the mother’s permission, and pay her (or sign a promissory note for) the amount he would have paid in child support during the child’s life (if the kid’s nine, then he owes nine years of child support - some of this money could go back to the government if the woman recieved finacial assistance previously).

4. If the woman dies during childbirth, the father regains custody. He may keep the child and assume his parental obligations. If he chooses not to keep the child, he can offer to let the family of the mother accept custody of the child. If they decline, he can put the child up for adoption.

5. In the absence of a Scarlett Contract, a man has the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. No contract, no way to avoid child support. Period.

I’ll respond to a couple of expected criticisms:

“Child support is for the child. The mother can’t sign that away.”

I’m not one who has a problem with my tax dollars going to financial assitance for poor families. If a two parent family needs government assistance, they should get it. If a single mom who signed a Scarlett Contract needs assistance, she should get it too (from the government, not the father). I’m a Canadian with socialist leanings, so this is consistent with my principles.

“What kind of scumbag would have a woman sign a Scarlett Contract?”

I dunno. Probably the same kind who would have a woman sign a pre-nup. But wouldn’t a woman want to know he’s a scumbag before she gets pregnant with his child?

Any comments?

Revenant said...

The difference is this: current law obligates both mother and father to a born child. Opt-out means only the mother is obligated.

No, it doesn't, because we're talking about decisions being made before the child is born. Opt-out applies to unborn children, which mothers (and only mothers) have the option to abort. Opt-out means that NEITHER parent has any obligation to the child. So does opt-in. The only difference is that opt-in makes it inconvenient for fathers to officially assume responsibility for their children while opt-out makes it inconvenient for fathers to eschew responsibility for their children.

I don't see any value in forcing a woman to scramble to get a last-minute abortion because the father opts-out at the last minute.

But you do see value in forcing a woman to scramble to get a last-minute abortion because the father flakes on filing his opt-in paperwork at the last minute?

If you're concerned about women having to "scramble" to get an abortion then the problem is easily solved by setting the timelines required or allowed for paperwork/notice/abortion in a way that ensures everyone involved gets a week or two to act. I just don't see what the value is in making it more inconvenient for fathers to assume responsibility for their children.

You must be a young'un--Baby Jessica was an infant whose mother, while engaged to Guy A, had an affair with Guy B.

Actually I think the problem is that I'm too old. The incident you're talking about happened in the 90s, apparently. The better-known Baby Jessica incident that most people over 30 are familiar with was a young girl who was trapped in a pipe for a few days.

Anonymous said...

How about we just admit what many people refuse to -- that men and women are NOT equal. Men are superior at certain things while women are superior at others. Once that's settled, at these mind-numbing arguments will cease *drips with sarcasm*

mythago said...

The better-known Baby Jessica incident that most people over 30 are familiar with was a young girl who was trapped in a pipe for a few days.

I recall that Baby Jessica as well, but I'm not sure she was 'better-known'. (Wasn't she trapped in a well, anyway?)

But you do see value in forcing a woman to scramble to get a last-minute abortion because the father flakes on filing his opt-in paperwork at the last minute?

I don't see why a woman is scrambling to get an abortion in that case. If the father flakes, he is not obligated to support the child, and the mother knows this. The worst-case outcome you propose is the mother getting an abortion and coming home to find the father with opt-in papers signed and filed.

If you're concerned about women having to "scramble" to get an abortion then the problem is easily solved by setting the timelines required or allowed for paperwork/notice/abortion in a way that ensures everyone involved gets a week or two to act.

What would those timelines be, then? Given that women do not generally know the instant they conceive, and that they are facing a deadline of 12 weeks before abortion becomes expensive and difficult to obtain (that is, more difficult than it is already), and that abortion is a surgical procedure and not like dropping some paperwork in the mail, that is. And then we need to take into account time for notification.

I just don't see what the value is in making it more inconvenient for fathers to assume responsibility for their children.

In other words, given fathers rights at the expense of mothers is more important than the potential inconvenience of filling out paperwork. Gotcha.

Seriously, though, opt-in actually makes it more convenient. If a father is facing your proposed one or two-week deadline to opt out, forever, how likely is he to make a sound, logical decision? Don't you think he'd rather bail out and hope that perhaps he can adopt, or marry the mother, later? His only chance to walk away is a one- or two-week window. With opt-in, if the mother carries to term, he has months to decide to be a father. And he's already in the position of no rights, no obligatoins; he has a good long time to think about whether he really wants to be a no-presence in the life of his child-to-be.

Lee said...

I dont know about the rest of you guys but I was informed 4 days ago that i'm the father of a 13 year old little girl acording to the great state of OK. I had no idea this was even possible. I have been married for the last 9 years and now have 3 children from this marriage. I am the sole supporter for my family and now the state of OK is requiring me to pay $440 a month and $733 to cover back support in the sum of $27,000 which equals out to $1,173 a month and I only bring home $2101 a month. I had no say so and I was not given the oportunity to prove I was not the father of this 13 year old child. The way I found out that OK had done this is they offset my tax return and sent an order to my employer to start taking $1,173 out of my paycheck every month. Where are my rights and why do I not have a say so in this matter. I think thats why men want the right to stand up and be heard when it comes to matters like this. I have no idea who this person is and why I was chosen to be her babies daddy but as far as i know there is nothing I can do now. and that is really messed up!! No one is welling to talk to me at the child support agency in OK. all they are telling me is that I should have showed up for court. For one, I live in KY, and two, I was not informed of any court hearing. Where is a mans rights in this case?? can anyone tell me the answer to that question?

Anonymous said...

Coming from Europe, I cannot believe the shite that American women allow themselves to put up with, having their choices attacked, being subject to terrorists outside of health clinics, being told by religious misogynist nuts to "keep your legs closed" and then not being able to get guaranteed benefits for the kids they actually do have that your government (if you can call it that) appallingly states it wants to "rescue". I can say one thing: in Europe (outside the Vatican at least) the abortion debate in the United States is viewed as nothing less than vulgar, hypocritical and disgusting. Here you Americans are, with the most nuclear warheads sitting around, exporting war and violence and importing cheap labor whilst your own people are given the shaft--you have NO moral authority whatsoever to even argue the abortion issue, much less force pregnancy onto women in a free society. Get this issue off of political platforms and you just might have a chance at some decent politicians for once. Land of the free--for who? Men only, obviously. Imagine how foolish you look waving your flags around shouting "freedom fries" at the top of your lungs whilst professing that sending your own daughters to butchers for a hopeless ideal is somehow "moral". If you like seeing women enslaved or in bondage, go rent a porn and kill two birds with one stone: your obsession to control the behaviour of others and your obvious lack of sexual gratification on the home front.

Anonymous said...

The ironic part, though, is that Europe has FAR more restrictions on abortion than the US does (where the restrictions, presently, are basically none).

But feel free to make attack the US. Just don't whine when people mention the massive failings of your little continent.

-=Mike

Anonymous said...

Lori Heine says:

I'm already supporting a whole passel of brats whose criminally-irresponsible parents won't support them, so I'm sick and tired of listening to a bunch of nasty, overgrown kids scream at each other about whether men are more victimized than women or vice versa.


Mmmm. I see. Since my wife and I are raising and paying for three children who will be supporting you when you are older I'm not sure your juxtaposition of ideas above constitutes a telling argument...

Anonymous said...

raging moderate:

You write:
If a single mom who signed a Scarlett Contract needs assistance, she should get it too (from the government, not the father). I’m a Canadian with socialist leanings, so this is consistent with my principles.


If you can persuade your government to support American women who have a child via a sperm donor or Scarlett contract, I don't have a problem with it, either.

I think a Scarlett contract sounds much more erotic and fun than going to a Sperm bank, for both parties. But for both arrangements, I would favor some sort of track record, demonstrating years of dutiful tax-paying, that offsets any government assistance the woman has received before. So the contract would need to be notorized in a DMV office before it would be valid, in my way of thinking. This greatly diminishes its erotic appeal.

What kind of scumbag would have a woman sign a Scarlett Contract?

American courts don't have a great track record of upholding contracts, thanks to your socialist-leaning colleagues here in the states. Calling the men who partake in them scumbags probably wouldn't increase their chances of surviving in court.

Anonymous said...

The current situation with respect to reproductive rights is inarguably inequal. Some justify this inequality by arguing biologically unequal circumstances, but rarely will you find anyone who even claims equity between the sexes on this point.

Instead you find elaborate strawmen, intricately constructed and dramatically torn down, such as the person near the top of this very page, who argues that: "I don't believe for a second that preventing a child from being born and abandoning a born child are identical acts," ignoring the fact that no serious person is arguing for such a right.

Men's groups want the right to be notified of a pregnancy, and to choose to commit or decline responsibility for the possible child that may result, within a reasonable time frame. After the child is born is another matter entirely, and no reasonable person argues that a man who has been properly informed should have the right to opt out at that point.

Furthermore, as others have pointed out, coercion, rape, and even statuatory rape, are not permitted for consideration in most paternity suits. You read correctly. Male children who have been statutorially raped have been succesfully sued for child support. The best argument that anyone can broach for this appalling inequality and injustice is that it doesn't happen often.

In law, there are many cases where there is no "right" answer, so (good) laws are written in an attempt at fairness, with leeway for jurists to apply judgement. Many will argue (and have) that a good test of a "bad" law is one in which jurists are allowed no leeway in judgement. Laws pertaining to paternity rights certainly fit this definition.

I think a good start would be to say that married women have the right to expect support for children provably fathered by their husbands, in nearly all circumstances. After all, marriage is a contract, and social convention says that it is a contract for procreation, regardless of your particular feelings on the subject. However, unwed women should have no such blanket accomodation, rather they should be required to inform the father within a reasonable time frame, and the father should have the right to opt out of responsibility.

Some will argue that this will raise the rate of abortions and abandonment, but I would tend to disagree unless presented with contrary evidence. In the current situation, women in many states know that they hold all the power, and can force men to pay for reproductive decisions they make without his knowledge or consent, and many do. If women knew that they couldn't force men into such a financial contract, it might help the situation by encouraging discussion and consent of both parties involved.

At this point I am sure many of you are screaming at your screen that the man consented to having children by having sex. I hope that if you would advocate this position that you are at least consistent, and are also against abortion rights for women (even though I disagree strongly). For this has always been a mainstay of the right wing anti-abortion groups, crudely put: "women do have a choice, they can choose to keep their legs closed".

Sauce for the goose, ladies and gentlemen. No pun intended.

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of the woman crying victim, I have yet to see the side of the woman being responsible .. what is being responsible you may ask ?? well its defined these days by them sitting on there fat ass pregnant every year by different fathers and waiting for that welfare check to come each month
more kids = more money !
while the rest of us hold our 40-50 week jobs.
Some how the state of california thinks that once they have a father paying child support for one kid then he should be paying for the other 20 bastards she has !
the bottom line is the ones who do pay child support get completely screwed which seems to make up for the ones that dont !
IF YOU CANT AFFORD TO HAVE KIDS WITHOUT BEING ON WELFARE DONT FRIGGEN HAVE THEM !

Anonymous said...

If I wasn't posting ananymous my title would be 'A Modern-Day American Slave'. I've read threads like these in response to Roe vs. Wade for men being thrown out of court and it makes me sick. There is no end to the cries for equality by men and the bigoted slogans thrown around by women. I have so much I'd love to say, but this is America... No one is listening, just judging. My lament will go unheeded for at least another one to two hundred years. The equality debate needs to stop. On a biological and legal basis, there is none. There isn't much good to say as to the biological equality issue. Men are naturally stronger and faster. No amount of feminine anger will change that. If applied, female intelligence would rival men's. Unfortunately, I have seen that many women realize they don't need to go this route. I will admit that most of my experiences have been with the female welfare class. Now that I'm working a white collar job I do encounter women who have earned my respect, but they are the exeption, not the rule. As far as the legal equality issues are concerned, you men out there asking for equality do not realize that it is being provided already. If women were truly our equals, they wouldn't need such draconian child support laws. They wouldn't need all the welfare programs. They would get jobs and stand next to us as equals. Growing up, I was taught that the sexes were equal and was stunned to see that in the real world, that is not the case. As you (the reader) are busy judging me and my opinions, know that your child support system has spent the last nine years making me this way. Things used to be different. I used to like kids when I was younger. Here's what your beloved system has done to me: when I was 17, I was lied to for the first time about the birth control issue. That was the end of my future. I was however, rather thick-headed and insisted on believing that if a woman 'loved' me and said she was taking birth control, that she meant it. I just could not believe that women use children as paychecks or to trap men. I tried to insist to myself that this was a rare thing and that the majority of women had qualities like decency, self respect, motivation, etc. So I ended up fathering two more unwanted children as a teenager. And I mean unwanted. Not even their mothers want them. At least I don't think they do, as they treat them poorly. Here are some numbers and facts to illustrate what child support enforcement does to people, and I am just one example. It made me homeless from the age of 18 to 21. From the age of 21 to the age of 26 my after child support wages were 95 dollars a week for a 40 hour a week job. When I asked for food stamps (I was very hungry) I was told that I made too much money - they are required to pretend that I keep my entire paycheck. I asked how I was supposed to live and what I could do to better myself, and was told that that wasn't their problem. I will never forgive or forget the things I had to do to survive. I found a state law that stated that child support shall not drop a person's wages below $790 a month but the state said to pursue this matter I needed an attorney. Those cost $100 an hour. You do the math. While in college,(Yes, I went to school full time while working a full and part time job. I'd like to see you um... welfare clients do that with a 4.0... if you even know what a 4.0 means) child support enforcement tried unsuccessfully to have me thrown in jail and the month after I got my first good job, they tried to take my liscense. That made no sense to me. Even with this great job I still cannot afford to live on my own while my exes work less than 10 hours a week, get free rent, free food, free medical care, adc(to you hard working men out there this is money for nothing), child support, tax breaks, drive nicer cars and have all around wonderful lives. That is what it takes for them to have equality. After my experiences, I now have a deep fear and hatred of children. I can't help but see them as weapons that have hurt and destroyed me. This is a real life example of the effects of the 'right to a father's emotional support' propaganda at work. For all of you that say 'never trust a woman who says they are taking birth control', the implications of your point of view is that women are liars and men should protect themselves accordingly. Doesn't anyone out there see how incredibly sad that is? I know better now. And for all the statements made about how other women(definitly not you) a long time ago were oppressed, here's an observation for you: now that women have the power that men used to have, they are every bit as capable of using it for evil, love it just as much, and don't even have the class to feel the least bit embarrased or ashamed. Congradulations. I can somewhat see the opposing sides' point of view though. If I was incompetant and worthless, I might never give up all the breaks the current system affords no matter how dearly it cost someone else(this assumes I didn't know how it feels). I would probably also stand up and brag about how I was everybody else's equal and how no one could take that away from me because it was my 'right'. To all of you men out there, women are fun for a couple of hours a week, but you do need to protect yourself. While living on the streets, I met a guy named 'J' who developed two addictions. Crack cocaine and methamphetine. He smoked the crack in a glass pipe and injected the meth. This went on for about four years. He has since been to a six month rehab and now is better off than me financially. That is how serious this subject is. Women's ability to force men to have and pay for children will damage your life more than the two worst drugs I have ever heard of can do combined. To the owner of this blog, I apologize for my anti-femenine sentiment. I dearly wish my experiences had taught me other wise. I wouldn't blame you if you delete my thoughts as they are usually met with severe anger and hate when I do express my feeling and experiences...but then...people who disapproved of slavery weren't well recieved in the south about 200 years ago either.

Anonymous said...

...

Anonymous said...

Ok this blog has gotten entirely too long to read the whole thing or answer to everything I disagree with that I read, I'm just too busy. I happened across this site in research on the topic, and since I have concrete thoughts on the matter, felt compelled to write.

Let's get real!!

Men have ALWAYS historically had the upperhand in reproductive choice over women. Condoms fashioned from cloth and animal skins have been found in history hundreds to thousands of years before "the pill" was ever created. Further absent sexual knowledge (something women were sheltered from until the 1900's) reading male orgasm and responding to it in order to prevent pregnancy has been pretty much in men's hands. I dare say even the most experienced woman who knows and reads her lover well, will not hop off and "finish the job" with 100% accuracy or without a deep discussion over the desire to prevent children via withdrawal methods. So that technique has been men's province too.

The problem? The reason the pill was so important? Man's unwillingness to use the control they have always had, in favor of a "completely fufilling feeling" upon orgasm. Come on guys....I know some of you would...oh well...nevermind.

Anyways, the point is that women have really only had some measure of reproductive control via the birth control pill for less than 60 years, and we take this chemical, very much to our own detrement and peril as there are a host of medical problems associated with it. That is how determined we are to have some measure of self-determination in our own reproduction.

Roe v. Wade was a neccessary evil. It was entered into under the premise of, what do I as a woman do to prevent pregnancy once the sperm has been deposited? I have few viable options to prevent depositing sperm inside me through intercourse absent not engaging in it or being very selective in so doing. Rape, coercion, and even many less than equitable marraiges have historically put women at a disadvantage, so a solution had to FINALLY be made available.

So then 10 years ago a female condom came to pass. Despite the obvious but often, in the eyes of "equality",overlooked anatomical differences that make this contraption far less simple and sexy to use "in the moment" than the male version, we were willing to try it. Why? To assert a power men were still refusing to use...control over the depositing of sperm near ova during sex so as to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Preventing reproduction is, for the most part, as simple as not depositing sperm on the vaginal highway to an ovum. Simple as that. Do men have reproductive control? Of course they do, and they always did, they have historically chosen to not do so. Condoms and withdrawal will prevent most pregnancies. Are there some that will fall through the cracks (sorry no pun intended)? Sure but it gives men one heck of a handle on the situation. When a man exerts that control to a woman's detrement what is her recourse? Abortion, unfortunately is all we have. To use it as tool to garner more male control of reproductivity is wrong.

To address the absurd contention that women desperate, with some sort of universal time clock sounding the "must get pregnant" alarm, are roaming the streets looking for male victims to milk so they can self-impregnate is just silly. Could it happen? I guess, but rarely. Law should be predicated on public policy for the greater good. If this becomes a real and reoccuring problem there are ways to address it in the law without this legislation.

Simply refusing to wear a condom or to withdraw because you "don't wanna" is not a get out of jail free ticket. Those selfish acts can have serious consequences, including child support. Sorry guys, but that is reality. Behavior has consequences, which leads me to another point. In this land of "equality" the idea is that the pendellum swings both ways. When women allege rape falsely, there are consequences to all women. The "don't worry baby, I'm sterile" line was a man's line for a very long time, so much so that it made its way into pop culture. I think it is profoundly wrong of either sex, but the outrage over one case of a woman using that same line and building legislation of such magnatude, seems a bit disproportionate.

In the end, no matter what full-on stupid mistakes many of us adults make, children should NEVER pay the price and all too often they do. There are no immaculate conceptions these days. Several choices are made that produce a child. The choice to have sex, the choice to deposit sperm in close proximity to ova, the choice to be responsible for your actions prior to conception, etc. Once those choices have been made we need to be adults who face the consequences. The child should not be deprived. They had no choice in the matter of their circumstances or their conception.

Just some of my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

You started off good but fell in to the self centered FEM-Nazis status go back to Russia.

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Martian Bachelor said...

I too wish I'd come across this blog about a year ago, as there were some interesting ideas being discussed.

One, which was barely even touched on, concerns the ramifications to women of the current status of the law, the effect on the social fabric rather than individuals.

This "Roe v Wade for men" is basically about money, the man's money specifically. If the man in question was not being compelled by the state, under threat of dire consequences, to transfer custody of $500 of his money to the woman, well, there'd be no suit.

One way of looking at this is to say the state is pimping for the "woman" now that she has a baby, and is shaking the man down to cover her/its expenses -- but that's not what I really want to address.

What's important is that this situation only is really of any relevance so long as the 'lucky' man has money. Those men who have none are at no (or much less) risk because we all know it's pointless trying to squeeze blood from a stone. The wealthier the man, the greater his vulnerability in situations such as this, especially because of the way the support levels are determined. At the modest level of $500/month, we're talking about at least a $108,000 liability, not including opportunity costs and possible future increases as the man's job prospects improve.

That's some pretty expensive sex. Even if we're talking about a relatively abundant but still small supply of sex metered out over many months, it still works out to $1,000 or more a pop, which is way more than a $300 pro costs.

Women complain "there just aren't any good men" out there, meaning principally marriageable men, meaning primarily men with sufficient resources to make the project (or "partnership") viable. Women have, or course, other requirements, but this is a big one. This is why it's all about buying cows and being as easy to marry a rich man.

What women haven't seemed to clue in on is how the status quo strongly disincentives the very men they desire. Never-married men in their thirties outnumber their female counterparts by a 4:3 margin, yet women perceive a man shortage.

I'd propose that what's happened is the "good catches" have simply dropped out of the dating/mating process because the risks don't justify the rewards, because no one is looking out for his interests.

It is easy for such men to do so - they're like the insurgents in Iraq, just blending into the background - because the hotties are looking for a decent man, but only if he learns how to seduce them the way a player would. Women aren't actively seeking out men and trying to build relationships with them, but are still stuck in their passive stances with their Cinderella complexes.

Women's only real response has been to do more of what women have always done, namely to up their sexual provocativeness by exposing even more skin and underware (etc.), which just attracts more jerks and losers, who, as noted have nothing much to lose (by definition) in this dance. That, and apply even more emotional pressure by complaining loudly about men being "intimidated by smart successful women", men who "refuse to grow up", etc. It would seem to never occur to women that perhaps such men have valid reasons for not doing what the woman desires because all they can see is how it frustrates their wants.

Net result: the one woman in this case may have been able to swing a low-cost or free baby, but the costs are ultimately born indirectly by women as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Two people decide to have sex...Yet only one of the two people is allowed to decide whether the baby stays or goes. I am not saying that an abortion is an easy way out. Honestly though, when did men lose the right to have a choice in this. This decision does not only affect women it affects the men involved as well. Men should have a right in this decision process and I think that it is a shame that they don't. I have a friend right now who was just told that he is about to be a father. Where is his choice in all of this. He is not the only one who decided to have sex. She opened her legs and made that choice along with him, and now no matter what he says its not up to him anymore. This choice was made for him. It WILL affect the rest of his life. I think that its sad that women think only about themselves when having these babies. They don't want to have an abortion because its morally wrong, they cant deal with the thought of it, or it goes against their religion. Whatever the reason is for not having an abortion why is the baby forced to grow up without a mother AND A FARTHER that want them? Why does this child have to be forced to wonder why his father is not around? You can tell him or her the truth, but when it comes down to it no matter how much you love your child they will still point it back on themselves for being the reason when they are young. I hope that one day legally we can change this. I hope one day men will have a legal right to this decision as much as the women.

sarah said...

Two people decide to have sex...Yet only one of the two people is allowed to decide whether the baby stays or goes. I am not saying that an abortion is an easy way out. Honestly though, when did men lose the right to have a choice in this. This decision does not only affect women it affects the men involved as well. Men should have a right in this decision process and I think that it is a shame that they don't. I have a friend right now who was just told that he is about to be a father. Where is his choice in all of this. He is not the only one who decided to have sex. She opened her legs and made that choice along with him, and now no matter what he says its not up to him anymore. This choice was made for him. It WILL affect the rest of his life. I think that its sad that women think only about themselves when having these babies. They don't want to have an abortion because its morally wrong, they cant deal with the thought of it, or it goes against their religion. Whatever the reason is for not having an abortion why is the baby forced to grow up without a mother AND A FARTHER that want them? Why does this child have to be forced to wonder why his father is not around? You can tell him or her the truth, but when it comes down to it no matter how much you love your child they will still point it back on themselves for being the reason when they are young. I hope that one day legally we can change this. I hope one day men will have a legal right to this decision as much as the women.

Anonymous said...

matt will win because hes right

Anonymous said...

A Woman’s right to choice. Roe vs. Wade - Promoting irresponsibility.

Plain and simple, negates a man’s feelings, constitutional rights and desires completely. Ultimately affecting and directing a man’s life and even worse a child at the expense of what a woman wants.

Yes, it is true. Equal rights have gone by the wayside. Rights have tipped to the woman when it comes to matters of responsibility. The say, everyone has the right to move on, but not so. Financial support and separate custody require a relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favor of a man’s right to control a woman’s body, completely to the contrary. But how can a 50/50 decision be decided by one person, ultimately affecting a child and another’s life. The decision is about what is best for the woman, without regard to the feelings or effects on the child or the partner.

Men do not have many choices when it comes to birth control other than abstinence and condoms. In every situation, a condom is not readily available, and abstinence falls to the wayside in the heat of the moment when rational decision making can be impaired by many factors.

Take my story (with a grain of salt please):
I am a thirty eight year old male that has been around the sun a few times and have seen a lot in my life. I was raised by a single mother. Around the age of 6 my mother married, and her new husband adopted me as his own child. He provided a great life for me in both environment and stability. I still will not forget the sacrifice my mother made when it was just the two of us though, she never took in child support and just moved on and took me with her. My best friend since childhood came from a broken home, and my best friends all throughout school were twins (full) adopted at birth. So, to some extent I have an idea of what social dynamics do to a child and have vivid memories of growing up.

I married later in life and settled into a good relationship with my best friend of over twelve years. During this time, she researched and found her birth parents. She was (full) adopted at birth. Turns out her parents were still together, married and she had a full brother. It was very emotional reunion for all involved. Well in the end the relationship with my ex was a friendship and the passion was just not there and we went our separate ways (even though now in retrospect it was one of the best relationships I have ever had). Separation with someone like that is very difficult emotionally and left me somewhat vulnerable.

Within a couple of weeks I was sitting in a restaurant in San Francisco over looking the bay while on business, and am seated next to the future mother of my child. She was an older, attractive and a very successful international business woman. Well, we discussed the finer details of carnal knowledge and kept in touch. The calls and visits became more frequent and started becoming a long distance relationship. Several months after our initial meeting, she tells me that she has herpes and was sorry for not telling me before we… This was a blow to me, and a character issue on several fronts, thankfully no signs.. We continue on our paths but end up discussing way too many politics at the dinner table and realize that the difference between democrat and republican points of view can be relevant. Don’t get me wrong, politics are not my passion.

Well, one argument leads to another and we hang up on each other and do not talk for weeks before a paid for and planned trip to see each other out of the country for my birthday. The night before the scheduled trip, a call confirms maybe another chance and why let the vacation go to waste?

I am picked up at the airport in Oakland and am whisked to Napa valley for a nice dinner and a very expensive bottle of wine for my birthday. After many bottles of wine we go back to the hotel room to pass out, except she was ready to give me my present. The last thing I remember is saying condom that night. Well, the male is not always on top, and sex is not always consensual. Funny when it is the male that seduces the female, everyone has a different reaction and feelings on the matter?

We leave out of the country the next morning. I am bothered by the evening considering the shakiness of the situation and abstain and resist more presents as I knew the timing of the month was a little close to what we scheduled around on our visits. A couple of days later while having dinner and margaritas she blurts out I am pregnant. Just Joking…. Whoa… We go on with the week and head back to our own states.

I realize this relationship is just not right, and would not be a good environment for a family - I did get a drink thrown in my face the week before for goodness sake. So, we do not really talk, and I decide that it is time to call it off. We were not happy around each other. We had previously setup to see each other the next week in Dallas while she was there on business. Before I could blurt out that it is time to call it quits, she drops her next bomb on me. I am pregnant and being laid off.

I just broke up with my best friend and was determined to not settle for less than something that was as great or better a chance at a happy family as that I had lost. And there are so many feelings concerning the right thing for the child, the real victim in a situation like this, I have seen it on many fronts first hand. So many thoughts run through my head, from child hood to my deathbed.

What are my options, the last thing I want to do is leave a child without a father and I do not want to create an environment that is a volatile hotbed of negativity. I have such strong feelings on the matter that it materialized right in front of me.

I ask for abortion or adoption, neither are illegal and are a topic of an entirely different discussion and set of issues. She tells me her prompt catholic upbringing could not allow it, it was not a decision for her and tough for me.

Hmm, “tough” I think to myself in response to her “it takes two to tango” attitude.
I think…..
It takes one to plan a birthday surprise…
It takes one to wine and dine another…
It takes one to know that the time of month is not right…
It takes one to know that you are about to be laid off…
It takes one to know that the relationship is obviously slipping
It takes one to disregard a request for a condom with someone passing out
It takes one to watch “An Officer and a Gentleman”

I realize at this point, I no longer have any voice or authority in the matter. My right to happiness, contributing voice, or at least a say in the matter is pretty much non existent. Have I terminated my rights somehow? How does this happen in our day and age?

I ask for a DNA test and am told she could not afford it and did not want to. What do I do, what do I do?

Before the first trimester is over, I get a call to let me know she was having the fetus tested for genetic defects like downs, or some other hardship. She tells me that if it does have a defect, she will terminate the pregnancy. This is reminiscent of Aryan supremacy and a choice for her maybe? This would indicate that the choice is made for her by man. As catholic views on abortion are church edicts (we now there are not many women decision makers in the catholic church), not one from God.

Well, before nine months is up I get the call that he was here prematurely.

I ask for DNA again and we get nowhere again. Five years later I get a letter in the mail from the county of Los Angeles. A DNA test is finally performed, and the accuracy is 99.99-something. It still just does not make sense to me, but what can I say. I have no idea there are so many increasing false positives coming up in DNA testing, and research tells me that today’s DNA testing only qualifies at best it was mine, or she likes men that look like me.

A few days later, on the same day I get an automated approval for a mortgage, my employer starts taking $1850 dollars a month out of my paycheck and I owe $23,000 in arrears without warning or my day in court – in order to be granted a telephonic hearing you have to sign your rights away to representation (read the fine print and between the lines.) The mortgage company tells me, “do let the door hit you on the way out”. I can not afford to see my child now – he is 2,500 miles away, I will really struggle to keep from losing my residence, my vehicle and subsequently my job, forced into bankruptcy. So, jobless, homeless, and a true deadbeat, a child goes without a father and financial support. But justice is served in the best interest of the child.

So,

The system is positioned to give the female a right to choice, but not a male. We send a message that it is OK for the female to make their choices for what they want, act on them, and know they will be protected by the law, at the expense of another’s basic constitutional rights. The best interest of the child.

This promotes social irresponsibility, not social responsibility. Education promotes social responsibility, not favoring one parent or sex over another to make life changing decisions for the other and a child.

This is a quote from the L.A. County website:
“Paying court-ordered child support is among the most basic and important responsibilities of a non-custodial parent.”

This implies that the love, presence and teachings of a father are second to money, even if the mother is able to provide a comfortable living for the child.

Do not get me wrong, I am all for a woman’s choice in the matter, but I believe it has to be the responsible choice that is consensual and healthy for the child and the other partner. To give indiscriminate authority over such a life changing issue to the disregard of another’s basic constitutional rights is irresponsible.

You need a license to drive a car, but not have a child. What has bigger impact on our future?

So, Now I will fight to see my child and ability to provide.

www.TeezITnow.com

Kevin said...

I do agree with you on most of your ideas. Accept where you take the child's consideration as reasoning to punish either parent. While I agree that society has an obligation to see that the child is taken care of. I think society offers that solution through State Care and Adoption, another right that is afforded to women and not equally afforded to men. I think the solution is quite easy. In most instances there is only a certain amount of time for the women to legally be allowed to have an abortion. I just think that we should pass a law that states as soon as you are pregnant the "father" must be notified and he should then be afforded the same amount of time to terminate there rights. Then the woman can make her decision knowing if she will have the support of a "father" or if she will be doing it on her own.

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feilin said...

I am so happy to get some gw gold from my friends. They know I need GuildWars Gold, they give me. So I always can get some Guild Wars Gold from my friends. I buy GuildWars money with my spare money. It makes me happy that I can still earn some cheap gw gold.
My friends like to play it and buy goonzu gold. If you have money to buy goonzu money, you will find it is very useful. Earning goonzu online gold is not so hard. Try your best and then you can get it. I buy goonzu gold, just because I like it. So simple the cheap goonzu gold is.

cheng said...

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dongmei said...

Do you know seal cegel? I like it.
My brother often go to the internet bar to buy sealonline cegel and play it. After school, He likes playing games using these seal online cegel with his friends. I do not like to play it. Because I think that it not only costs much money but also spend much time. One day, he give me many cheap seal cegeland play the game with me. I came to the bar following him and found buy seal online cegelwas so cheap. After that, I also go to play game with him.
It is a very nice game silkroad gold, I like sro gold. You can play it silkroad online gold, you can buy the cheap silk road gold. You smart and buy cheap silkroad gold.

game gold said...

To buy shaiya gold , it is not the aim of the shaiya. It is the game which brings a lot of happiness to me. We buy the shaiya money together. The beautiful story, we can not be forgotten, buy shaiya gold . You will not regret to have cheap shaiya gold . So I will continue to have shaiya online gold , it is a beautiful fairy tale, it looks like my life.

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