In a recent episode of the show “Parenthood,” a teenage couple deals with a pregnancy. The girl wants an abortion; the boy doesn’t want her to have it. She gets the abortion, anyway. Boy is supportive (he loves her), but when it’s done, he’s broken, distraught, and for the first time goes to his mother for emotional support (he’d been very private and “teenagery” up to that point).
It was, I thought, an effective way to show the impact of abortion on males who don’t agree with the decision to abort, but who have no say, really, and can only stand by and accept whatever the woman decides.
While I do believe that the male (in a relationship in which the two respect each other) should be informed of a pregnancy and be involved in a discussion of the options, I also believe that – following whatever discussion takes place – the decision ultimately is (and should be) the woman’s.
But there’s something about this ultimate decision-making power that doesn’t quite work.
(Note: the rest of this post assumes the couple isn’t married or similarly committed.)
If an “oops” pregnancy occurs and the man doesn’t want a child, the woman can decide to have it, anyway, and the man will be forced to, at the very least, pay child support.
If an “oops” pregnancy occurs and the man wants the child and the woman doesn’t, she can terminate the pregnancy, and he has to accept it.
It just doesn’t seem – well – fair.
What if there were some kind of legally binding document the man and woman would fill out and sign upon acknowledgment of a pregnancy? Like so:
(Note #2: It was rightly pointed out in the comments that some of the ideas proposed could never work, because what’s important when a child is born is to properly provide for the child. I did think about that, but I ignored it – and shouldn’t have. That said, if someone reading this can think of possible solutions, please add them! It’s probably true that there will never be full equality when it comes to abortion and childbirth, there has to be a way to, at the very least, improve upon the currently existing model.)
1. Upon discovery of pregnancy, man and woman discuss whether the baby will be born.
2. If the woman chooses to abort and the man doesn’t want her to, she accepts full responsibility for medical costs.
3. If both the woman and the man choose abortion, they pay for it 50/50.
4. If the woman doesn’t want a baby but agrees not to abort out of deference to the man, the man agrees to accept full medical costs and sole custody of the child (unless both later decide that they’d like to share costs and care) or to make adoption arrangements.
5. If the man doesn’t want a child and the woman chooses to carry the pregnancy to term and raise the baby, the man will be absolved of any responsibility to the child, including visitation and child support.
6. If a woman chooses to keep the baby and the man is in favor of the decision, the two will enter into custody and child support discussions.
Obviously, there are a bazillion ways for either party to take advantage of such arrangements, but there’s nothing people won’t find a way to take advantage of. Maybe it could work. Or something like it…? What agreements would you include on such a form?