Abortion for guys

There’s an awesome article on FindLaw about abortion… and specifically, about the discrimination against men in the current abortion system. I recommend reading the whole thing, but if you’re lazy, here are the highlights.

…[A] woman has the ability forcibly to place her unwitting partner or ex-partner in a position he never wanted to occupy—that of a father—with all of the financial and emotional baggage that the status carries.

Some fathers’ rights advocates feel so strongly about this reproductive inequity that they maintain that if either a man or a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy, against the wishes of the other partner, he or she should be able to do so. According to the New York Times magazine, Michael Newdow, for example, railed against “the imbalance in reproductive rights—women can choose to end a pregnancy but men can’t….” Newdow then cut himself off, in order, he said, not to “alienate” the interviewer.

Newdow, of course, being the plaintiff in the Pledge of Allegiance suit. Continues the article:

There is a less extreme version of this argument: Men and women may be differently situated with respect to pregnancy, so that women but not men have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. But with rights come responsibilities, and a woman who gives birth without the biological father’s blessing should not be able to collect child support from him. By failing to terminate her pregnancy in accord with the father’s wishes, in other words, she should assume the risk of parenting the child alone.

Some have referred to this approach as the right of men to a “financial abortion.” A man who does not want his child brought into the world should let his sexual partner know of his feelings, they contend, and if she nonetheless goes on to keep the child that she conceives with him, then he should have the right to “choose” not to affiliate with that child and not to provide support. He should be entitled to opt out of the role of parent in the only way he can, just a woman is able to opt out absolutely by having an abortion.

Like I said, read the whole thing: this is a good policy question to churn your mental cogs, partly because it’s so counter-intuitive to the conventional wisdom.

8 thoughts on “Abortion for guys”

  1. Well, it is pretty counter-intuitive to the conventional wisdom I suppose, but it’s certainly something I’ve thought about long and hard before. And basically, as a conservative I say “tough shit” to guys. Biology makes things “unfair.” I’m not sure how they ever good be fair, really. No matter how you have the law, one sex is going to feel like it gets the shit end of the stick. Adopt Newdow’s laws, and it’s certainly not “fair”– women still would have to deal with pregnancy, abortion, and everything. Pregnancy and giving birth do cause various emotional links that don’t have to happen to a father who washes his hand, and abortion is an invasive procedure that carries some trauma and risk of danger, which is why it seems ridiculous that a man could order a woman to get it.

    I’m fairly anti-abortion myself, so take my views however you will. I just can’t see how the situation, given biology (and our so far lack of complete technological ways around it), can be fair.

    Of course, there are hard cases that very well may make bad law. If a woman insists that she’s using birth control, and intentionally sabotages it in order to have a child to try to keep her boyfriend, naturally it feels really wrong if he’s forced to pay child support. It does make for a tough case, admittedly.

  2. What you call “counter-intuitive” I call just plain wrong. A guy beds a woman and knocks her up, and he can get out of paying child support just by demanding that she get an abortion? I’d love to have some escape clauses like that in some of my contracts! Sounds like the Ali G approach: “What, after you pay for the movie tickets, the popcorn, you then have to pay even MORE?”

  3. I’ve always been in Thacker’s camp, more or less; the physical differences mean that you can’t really reach a fair result. But it’s a fun rhetorical point.

    In this case, where there’s deception involved, it’s definitely much more difficult to decide than when the man should know that his sperm are going to do things he might not like.

    And just to show how far the argument can go, check out these guys.

  4. While I believe that more family planning/counselling is needed for women, due to the emotional fallout from abortion, it doesn’t follow that “if either a man or a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy, against the wishes of the other partner, he or she should be able to do so.” Abortion is a procedure that interferes with the woman’s body – just I am against the recent South Dakota ban on all abortion (even for rape or incest), I’m against this proposal, because it’s a coercive measure that takes women’s control over their own bodies away from them.

  5. “… if either a man or a woman wants to terminate a pregnancy, against the wishes of the other partner, he or she should be able to do so.” — That line I find shocking. Could you imagine a pregnancy being terminated simply because of one parent’s stubbornness, even though the other is willing to care for the eventual child? That would be heartwrenching.

  6. On the other side of the topic, I have always thought it unfair that men don’t have a say in the life of the child. I mean, even if they don’t want to be a dad right now, who says they will regret not supporting that child later in life. The child is a part of them, a biological part of them and half of their DNA. I think men should have a say if the woman opts to abort. They should be able to keep the child or at least put the baby up for adoption. Yes, the woman would have to go through the entire pregnancy but that is far less severe than forcing a woman to go through abortion, which is traumatic and more life threatening than pregnancy.

    Everytime there is sex, there is always chance of pregnancy even if one is on birth control. As those things are not 100% and so I think both parties should be ready to deal with the consequences in a proper light (meaning, humane and decent light). Not by killing the result of their physical union.

    From a woman’s perspective, the idea presented in the article is lopsided because most women know that too many men already shrug off their responsibilities in the parental department (a lot of single moms out there, working, going to school, raising children themselves already) so giving men yet another option to free themselves from life responsibility is just exceedingly unfair.

    I guess it is sort of a circle effect. Too many men abandon their women when they get pregnant or just abandon the family altogether, then the children grow up without a father figure and the boys end up repeating that unnatural cycle when the are older because they don’t know what it is like to be a man, a dad or a provider to the family unit.

    I know that might sound harsh but I’m pretty sure statistics point in that direction, not to mention research on the subject. 🙂

    I enjoyed reading through the comments though on this article and was actually surprised to see so many “good men” responding with responsible remarks. Wow, that is enlightening from a woman’s perspective. After all, most women really only want (deep down even if they don’t admit it upfront)….a good man, a family (marriage, honey) and children. A baby really completes a woman’s maternal instincts and to think that it doesn’t is to deny human nature.

    I worked with ladies who lost a baby, some through abortion and they don’t get over it. Years later it haunts them. They have to find a way to forgive themselves. I did this work for ten years and also been on the personal side of it having what was like a medical abortion. I shall never forgive myself for choosing my own life over the baby. She died and I held her in my arms and could only say, “I’m so sorry..” I repeated this immensely and I shall never get over that moment. I was so stupid.

    I did read while studying the topic of abortion that women often turn to abortion because they have no support from others. No one to offer assistance. Parents against them (or upset at them), the guy takes off or tells her to have an abortion. She is left alone without any support. She really doesn’t want it but with no support, no financial, emotional or compassionate response, she feels no options left. I’m sure this statistic is huge and I think one needs to look at the whole dysfunctional family issue to help the sexes in the future. We are a social people, just like most mammals, we need that family unit to learn and grow and support us. Without it, I think men suffer from lack of knowledge of what they are suppose to do, as well as women.

    Okay, a huge post but I enjoyed reading the feedback and had to comment.

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