A Father’s rights in Pregnancy

I just read an interesting CNN article about a father who is fighting for a say in his responsiblity for an unintended child. His specific case has some interesting points, in that apparently his girlfriend deceived him into believing she could not get pregnant. But i think it provokes a broader and more interesting discussion.

In all our focus on women’s rights, I sometimes feel that males are being pushed below equity to make up for their upfair dominance elsewhere. Take, for instance, the existance of a wide variety of women’s health centers. I think if you founded a men’s health center and turned away women, it would be protested and shut down.

Pregnancy is a good example of where politics and biology are at logger-heads. Women have an unfair share of a child in any case– they carry the fetus to term and form bonds with it that way. But the very principles of equality espoused by feminism would call for a more equal sharing of responsibility and burden than our biology can allow.

Should men be allowed to fight to NOT pay for a child they reasonably expected not to have? I think perhaps so. But should that be extended to ANY unplanned pregnancy? Perhaps not.

Meg pointed out to me that the availability of abortion is critical to our thinking of this issue, and I couldn’t agree more. If you take away a women’s ability to choose not to carry the baby for 9 months, leaving only adoption as an alternative to caring for the child… the situation becomes much murkier.


2 Responses to “A Father’s rights in Pregnancy”

I know you were only saying this bit to get some feathers ruffled, but I thought I’d clear it up on here anyway (though we already talked about it): “Take, for instance, the existance of a wide variety of women’s health centers. I think if you founded a men’s health center and turned away women, it would be protested and shut down.” Well, yes, that’s because women’s reproductive tracts are a heck of a lot more complicated than men’s…

That said, I think his argument does have a fair amount of validity. However, for this specific case there are some unanswered questions — was the girl purposefully lying to her boyfriend and had no reason to believe she was sterile, or did she have a doctor tell her she was and in which case he would be the one to blame for this, or is she just plain stupid? Either way, somehow the boyfriend was deceived and should have some path open to him to prevent a child from being born that he is not prepared to love and care for, just as the woman does. However, like Andrew said, making abortion illegal, which unfortunately looks like a real possibility…, would make the boyfriend’s grievances obsolete.

Teisha - March 14th, 2006 at 8:45 am

In an obliquely related story in the NY Times yesterday (3/19/06), some unwed fathers are fighting for custody of their biological offspring — in some states the unwed father has virtually no rights to *claim* the child, especially if the father hasn’t filed a particular state-specific claim by a certain date (and filing the claim is often made nearly impossible). So, in some cases the child is given up for adoption to strangers while the biological father is shut out of the process entirely.

Meg - March 20th, 2006 at 4:09 pm

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