Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Man's Financial Abortion

A recent TIME magazine article has been getting a good deal of press the last week. The article by Nancy Gibbs, titled 'A Man's Right to Choose?' discusses whether or not a man has the ability to decide not to have a child. If women can choose abortion, the pill, etc., then why can't men definitively say no to an unwanted child?

This whole thing highlights the double standard that many men feel exists in the abortion debate. It's a woman's right to choose: Life or 'Choice'. It's a woman's body, a woman's uterus, a woman has to go through the actual 9 months + labor, and a woman is the one who is supremely inconvenienced if not utterly derailed personally and professionally by the pregnancy. But, what about the guy in all this?

Mel Feit, the Director of the National Center for Men (yes, it's a real organization that 'fights for equal rights' for men), says that they are launching a campaign to have women 'share reproductive rights with men.' It's a project they're calling 'Roe v. Wade...for Men'. So sayeth their website:

More than three decades ago Roe vs. Wade gave women control of their reproductive lives but nothing in the law changed for men. Women can now have sexual intimacy without sacrificing reproductive choice. Women now have the freedom and security to enjoy lovemaking without the fear of forced procreation. Women now have control of their lives after an unplanned conception. But men are routinely forced to give up control, forced to be financially responsible for choices only women are permitted to make, forced to relinquish reproductive choice as the price of intimacy.

Basically the point is that if a woman has an unwanted pregnancy, she has the right to get rid of it. Despite your views of abortion and the sanctity of life, those are the facts of law as they currently are in America. However, think about this: If a man gets a woman pregnant, and she doesn't want to have an abortion, he is automatically financially responsible for that child forever. Whether he wanted the child, the abortion, or not, he has no recourse. He cannot force the woman to have the abortion, but he cannot also absolve himself of the financial obligation.

And I understand the arguments against this notion. It takes two to tango. The man is equally responsible for the creation, so he should be responsible for the life. Blah blah blah... But, it's not always true. The woman gets the choice to opt out, but not the man?

I think there's an obvious and valid point to be made here. If a girl knows her guy doesn't want a baby, or probably can't afford a baby right now, and an accident happens, it should be solely on her if she wants to keep it. If she decides she's ready to be a mother, but he's not ready to be a father, he should get an out, too. Shouldn't he?

Feit argues that within a short window of time after discovering an unplanned pregnancy — he has proposed a month, but thinks a week might even be more appropriate — a man should have the right to terminate his legal and financial obligations to the child. "I'm not talking about fathers opting out of obligations that they've committed to," Feit says. "I mean early in pregnancy, if contraception failed, men should have a choice, and women have a right to know what that choice is as they decide how to proceed."

Still, Feit has been surprised by the response he's gotten so far. "It doesn't break down along traditional gender lines," he says. "We're getting so much support from women." The men divide roughly half and half between those who support what he's doing and those who say essentially "be a man; accept responsibility." "Women seem more supportive, which is very surprising and gratifying. They say maybe this is fair, men should have some say, some choice. I'm getting more support from women than I anticipated." He is the first to say that these are not easy questions. So sometimes just asking them is the right place to start.

So... What do YOU think Rioters? Should a man have an equal right to choose? Or, are guys screwed if the girl decides she wants to keep an accidental child? This doesn't count if the guy was committed to being a father and then decided later he wanted out. This would be, as the article states, an accidental pregnancy at its earliest stages. Comment, tweet, or email your responses to IncitingARiotPodcast@gmail.com!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

15 comments:

  1. Absolutely as I count it women have 2 %100 reliable forms of birth control, abstinence and abortion. Men have only one of those.

    I had a huge rant about men's rights, and that you felt the need to put them in quotes. But that seemed like thread jacking so, I'll just say this, just because women's rights still need work doesn't automatically make men's rights a joke.

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  2. Well, I have never been able to get my head around the concept of abortion at all, so I fail to get where this guy is coming from on this.

    It would make more sense to me if the man was fighting for the right to save his child, not abort it.

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  3. I totally get where this is coming from but it is just the risk one takes when entering into a sexual relationship.
    If someone doesn't want to have a kid the best way of not doing so is to not have sex. Yea, women can use the pill, men can wear condoms!

    What I see here is men desiring to give up a role they've had for decades, centuries even. The males have been bread winners, providing protection and necessities. In fact, I do believe that's how it works with regards to most animal species. Then the females nurture and raise the young.

    So these men want to give up the role they, essentially, were born into and leave the women to do ALL the dirty work?

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  4. @Aria -
    You're right it is a risk you take. The law has provided unequal insulation from that risk to one sex and not the other.

    A woman can be sexually active knowing that if birth control fails she has at least three options, Abortion, Adoption, or Raise the child. Additionally she knows that the government will assist her in forcing the father of that child to pay for the child, while she retains the primary right to determine the child's upbringing.

    A man knows that if birth control fails, he can propose and "man up to the situation", has no right to prevent the woman involved from seeking an abortion, or potentially find out years later he has a child, for whom he owes back child support.

    This argument from tradition is essentialist and untrue. There are several animal species where the males play the role of caretaker and nurturer, Penguins and Seahorses come to mind immediately. To argue that men are "naturally providers" is essentially to argue that there is some relation to being born with a penis is to be bigger faster & stronger and more inclined to particular kinds of work than someone born with a vagina. There are some pretty good social reasons that some societies choose similar divisions of labor, but that doesn't make those divisions essential, or natural, just convenient in the most commonly occupying social structures.

    If we are all equal, then we need to be genuinely equal.

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  5. Men have been jumping at the chance to drop that role for awhile now with so many other players jumping in to replace them. I am often disappointed by Team-Dude.

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  6. The problem is that we can't be biologically equal. Unlike seahorses, men do not have the ability to birth young.
    Men can't force women to choose. A man would never understand the choice on the level of a woman because each contributes something different to the childs upbringing. I know that may sound fleeting but I don't know of any family where the mother and father act exactly the same.

    I know my statement was general but I couldn't figure out how best to explain what I meant.

    The main reason this issue bothers me is that if men were allowed to back out of their current obligations there may be many more fatherless children. If a man is forced to contribute financially then he may be more likely to build a relationship with the child because he has invested in it.

    Also, what peeves me is that the man and woman themselves would not likely suffer from the lack of financial aid, but the child would. This poor child who didn't ask to be born would be the one without a dad and a mum who was never around because she's working to support them.
    When a child is born then the needs of the individual need to be put aside for the wellbeing of the life that was brought into the world by two people, not one.

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  7. And just a fun fact, men do make different choices to women in the job market. Men still are more inclined to study science and maths subjects and work in fields such as business and engineering. Women are still more likely to play the role of caretaker in the form of nurses, teachers etc.

    I'm not saying it's right but, statistically, we aren't equal. Women still don't get paid as much. Common qualities associated with men are ruthless, strong and masculine. Women are considered to be compassionate, caring and kind.
    Yes it's stereotyping but it's very common stereotyping.
    Gender differences are considered in most scientific research. Psychology has a whole branch dedicated to highlighting gender differences.

    My point is that the roles played out by the traditional family are still commonplace. I'm not saying that couldn't change or that it applies to everyone by any stretch.

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  8. How many men are at risk of death from carrying an ever-growing parasite for a nine month period?

    Biologically that's a large part of what goes on during a pregnancy. The woman's body is put under a great strain.

    Men don't take an equal risk in childbearing, whatever else the religious right comes up with for an excuse to return women to the status of brood mares.

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  9. Its always amusing how you bring in the right, even if they aren't involved here and on Paganspace, Ananta =p

    And to play along with your theory and draw in the other blog post.... How do you explain Sarah Palin being pushed so hard by the religious right? Shes motivating thousands of Christian Housewives to be more than just a housewife. If your theory were true, she would be a huge threat, not their champion =p

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  10. @Ananta - you're right, and men are uniquely able to have a child they don't know about, and liability for financially supporting that child. Until/unless the mother to track him down for back child support.

    The issues are two separate(though interconnected) issues. Men's issues and women's issues are often different, to suggest that they are the same or spend time comparing them isn't really all that useful.

    That said, since I may have been unclear before.

    I may not be willing to preform an abortion, and I would morn if a woman choose to abort a child I wanted, but women have every right to that choice. It's great that we recognize that, and it's an important right for women.

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  11. Odom of the Evil EyeJuly 29, 2010 at 1:38 AM

    The article is talking about if birth control fails. A condom only gives a 77% chance of preventing pregnancy, not counting holes, tears, breaks, or the condom coming off.

    The final choice would be the woman's, but the man has the option of taking the child if the woman wants to opt for abortion.

    As a human right, I believe that the man should have the chance to be completely uninvolved from the child's life, physically and financially. I think the week time proposal is appropriate as the window to opt out.

    I believe that this should only be upheld if protection was attempted, such as in the form of a condom, and failed. If unprotected sex was performed, then the man signed off on the dotted line. Hell, I think the woman did too. If you have unprotected sexual intercourse, you are saying that you will be responsible for what happens, both man and woman.

    Abortion should be a last option, and as bad as I hate to say it, it may be the best thing in some cases.

    I think both genders should "man up" if pregnancy happens because of carelessness. The opt out over accidents, or the option of both parties to be responsible should exist.

    I know women will say "its my body that gets messed up." While I recognize that is a definite factor, women forget that the man's life is changed as much as hers. His body will also be worn down over the course of time as he has to work harder and strive to make more money to take care of a child he may or may not get to see every other weekend.

    Women are getting better jobs, and are not forced into the care/nurturing jobs like they used to be. I know plenty of women that have great paying jobs and make a lot more money than a lot of men. One job that tends to be mostly men is construction, and in my job I see construction workers everyday. They destroy their bodies daily and don't get paid very much in comparison.

    Now I'm not saying that every guy is a poor hard working smuck, and that women are the all rich and all powerful. Situations are just that, SITUATIONAL. These things need to be taken on a case to case basis, and equal rights should be observed.

    My point is after all this rant, is that there should be equal choice and equal responsibility.

    This is my 2 cents, and I'll give you a penny for your thoughts. Feel free to discuss :)

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  12. I think that this issue points to bigger holes in sexual education and sexual liberation. Knowledge is power. Knowing one's options and alternatives is a healthy way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. No one's ever got pregnant from oral sex.

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  13. I agree that the man should have a right to a 'financial abortion' if he genuinely had no say in the matter. For example...the two have sex and then don't see each other again. Later the woman comes back to him, says she was pregnant and had his kid and now demands support. This is clearly unfair. He did not have a choice, so he should not pay.

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  14. It seems an easy way to allow each party to have a say in the matter is to require the mother to formally notify a father of her pregnancy within a limited time. If the father chose to reject parenthood he would then have to formally notify the mother within a set time. The timeline for this would be strict and occur within the abortion choice time frame.

    The father would have the CHOICE to pay for the kid for 18 years.

    The mother would still have the CHOICE over her body and decision to keep or abort the child.

    It seems like a no-brainier and is the way all other two party negotiations work. But of course it would never become law because child support is not about the best interests of the child. It is about the best interests of the state.

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  15. While many may see this initiative as a legal maneuver for "dead beat dads" to escape any responsibility I see legitimate merit to the cause. Firstly, lets look at the current situation.

    As of now both male and female have the option to remain abstinent, but provided a couple decide to take part in an intimate relationship, all choices on the part of the male are over with if a pregnancy occurs. From a legal standpoint the woman controls all the decisions from there on. She can decide to abort, have the child and raise it, or have the child and put it up for adoption. On the issue of abortion, the woman's right is fully justified as the procedure is physically tied to her own person; any choices should be hers.

    This option, as well as that of adoption both give a woman an automatic "out" out from financial responsibilities. The man has no such option. If the woman does choose to carry the child and raise it, the man can, and will be as is most likely, be forced to provide financial support. Furthermore, let it be noted if the woman does not wish to care for the child while the man does, she can give the child up for adoption, or allow the father full custody without being required to provide financial support for the child. A bit of a double standard. With this in mind I believe the following would be the most appropriate legislation:

    If the woman decides to abort:
    -Both male and female split all associated costs

    If the woman decides to carry to term and raise the child:
    -Male should be notified within set time limit of pregnancy and allowed a short time to declare his desires; to abort financially or remain tied
    --If he decides to abort financially and woman still carries, it should be her responsibility to pay for the child's upbringing alone, or opt for adoption

    If woman decides to carry but does NOT want to raise child (carries for moral reasons etc.):
    -Once again male notified or pregnancy in set time frame.
    --If he decides he wants to raise the child, he assumes full financial responsibility for child's upbringing

    ****NOTE: In all cases, any financial costs associated with the pregnancy, abortion, or adoption should be split evenly by both mother and father.

    Lastly, some may argue the male should still have financial responsibilities should the woman decide to raise the child (child support) if he does not wish to raise the child also. If this were to remain policy then I would also see it fit that should the father decide to raise the child and the mother is unwilling, then the mother would be obligated to pay child support.

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