Leveling the pregnancy playing field

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 a legally binding document the man and woman could sign upon acknowledgment of a pregnancy?

(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.)

SAMPLE DOCUMENT:

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.

Signature #1:____________  Signature #2:_____________

Obviously, there are several 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, or something like it, could work. What agreements would you include on such a form?

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13 thoughts on “Leveling the pregnancy playing field

  1. Randee

    Can’t go with this. Child support, in theory — both legal and actual, I believe — is meant to assist the child. If the child comes into the world, both parents have a responsibility to care for it. A contract “absolving” a man of that responsibility because the woman chooses to have the child rather than abort shifts the focus away: This is about providing for another life’s needs, should that life occupy space in the world. That’s all there is to it. If you don’t want to risk a child and all the attendant responsibility, you don’t have sex. Since that’s not going to happen, BOTH people who choose to have sexual relations should understand and be willing to accept the potential consequences down the road.

    1. A Guy

      The government provides support, incentives, welfare and benefits for a slew of circumstances already. The child needs to be supported certainly, but does 100% of that have to come from the men being forced into fatherhood against his will? The least the gov’t could do if they are going to be garnishing his paychecks it allow that portion to be tax free.

      1. Randee

        Let’s hear it for personal responsibility. The government is there for those who can’t provide for themselves and have no assistance elsewhere. There are consequences to actions, and if you create a new life it is — on every level that includes morally and financially — up to you to ensure this person grows up to be a productive member of society. As someone else noted it’s completely impractical to come up with any solution that wouldn’t be abused, but even if there were: You don’t get to absolve yourself of being a parent, unless you let your child be adopted out. It’s not the child’s fault you’re mature enough to create a new person, but not mature enough to accept that it’s a lifelong commitment.

  2. Have you read “Why Have Children” by Christine Overall? http://www.amazon.com/Why-Have-Children-Ethical-Bioethics/dp/0262016982

    It’s a very philosophical book but she brings up many of the things you discuss in your post and discusses them at length. I, too, agree that there is a lopsidedness to the unwanted pregnancy issue. It puts men in a potentially powerless position of supporting a child they never wanted.

    I agree there should be some way of absolving a man of all responsibility for an unborn child he never wanted, but legally I don’t know of a good way to do that that wouldn’t be extensively abused. A tough question.

  3. KingTut

    The biological responsibilities of the two genders are unfair to begin with, so there is really no way to make the outcome fair (you are asking for “equal outcome”).

    One of the biological benefits of having a child for a man is the furthering of his genetics. He would be getting this reward for “free” if he was not expected to care for his child. He would still have this benefit when the child is 18. There is nothing to stop the biological father or his relatives from having a relationship withe his offspring.

    Also, child support does not belong to the mother to negotiate. It belongs to the child.
    Every child has a right to both parents.

    I would recommend mothers not being able to assume full physical custody with support paid to them after birth. I support a system of shared parenting with no support paid, or fathers having a shot of full custody with mothers paying support to the fathers.

  4. DaPoet

    The only reasonable solution is to require women to suck it up and take full responsibility for the consequences of their actions instead to blaming her male partner, denying him his rights and setting him up to be financially raped.

    Of course this will never happen because it just makes too much common sense.

    1. Oh, men are equally complicit in the act that creates a pregnancy. And your “women aren’t capable of common sense” bullshit renders anything else you could say worthless. Take it somewhere people like you whine about how women are always taking you down. It’s the only place anyone will give you an ounce of credit.

  5. Maybe some of your blog’s visitors would like to check out this offer. I don’t know how long it will run. I just put in my order for a new baby sling that regularly goes for $39.99 and I got it for only $11.90. The only thing you are being charged for is the “shipping and handling.” Anywho, the web site seems like it specializes in “designer”-type slings so I believe this is a decent bargain. There’s also “size insurance” which costs something like 5 dollars but not mandatory. Visit this site: http://bit.ly/16LH7Eh and then click “Shop Now” and then choose the one you want. Make sure you pick out your size and any other options! When you are taken to the page where you put in your info, type ENBABY into the discount code box and the total will be lowered to +$0 plus S&H. Enjoy!

  6. Bad Puppy!

    As bad as it may be for “the child”, I do NOT feel that a man should have to support a child he was not in agreement about coming into the world. To me, if a woman says: “Screw you, I don’t care what you want, I’m having this baby”, then she has just decided to be a single mother. In the truest sense of the word SINGLE. She should consider the man whose sperm made the baby a dead man in her mind. I mean… if a woman has a baby and the father dies, where is child support coming from then? HER. That’s who should pay for the baby when only she wants it.

    I also think that most of the vitriol against women having bodily autonomy and getting abortions would go away except in the most religious extremists if this SIMPLE bit of equality was adhered to. Woman doesn’t want to be a mother… she can abort or give it up for adoption. Man doesn’t want to be a father… tough cookies. And women have the nerve to flip out about men questioning their right to abortions?

    If a woman wants to control her uterus she must respect a man’s right to control his wallet. IMO.

  7. 1Life

    I don’t have any sympathy for men and women who have “accidental” pregnancies through consensual sex. Everyone should have basic knowledge of where babies come from. Unless you have a vasectomy, IUD, or tubal ligation, You should KNOW that the chance of getting pregnant through consensual sexual intercourse IS A POSSIBILITY! Regardless of condoms or birth control. So many men complain about having to use condoms, and so many women physically cannot take artificial hormones that are in birth control. These idiots go and have unprotected sex and have the nerve to act outraged or depressed over their Highly probable pregnancy. IF you don’t want a child then GET AN ABORTION! I’m tired of everyone’s emotional opinion when it comes to birth vs. abortion. Statistics show that unwanted children and children that are not financially, mentally, or emotionally supported are a drain on society in MANY WAYS due to the abuse and neglect that they are MORE LIKELY TO SUFFER, especially if the child has a mental/physical disability. They often become violent, physically/mentally impaired, or criminals. For every 1 Oprah or Steve Jobs, There are 10,000 pedophiles, criminals, murders, and rapists to take their place. All because some self-righteous D-bag thought it would be “morally” right to dump out an unwanted kid or because some Dead beat sperm dropper doesn’t think its his fault if his sperm went into a vagina and fertilized an Egg. We already have a slew of unwanted kids that No one wants to take responsibility for. WE HAVE ENOUGH. If you’re a woman and you get knocked up and want to keep the baby and the sperm donor doesn’t, You better have enough money/time/attention to make sure you don’t create another screwed up sociopath with mommy/daddy issues. IF you’re a man who likes to ejaculate recklessly into vagina’s, then bitch about said unwanted babies, and not contribute anything to the lives of these sperm dumpster children, then you better not complain about all the screwed up homicidal maniac’s and criminals your lack of involvement helped create. I’m so sick of everyone trying to pass the Torch of responsibility to someone else. You ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE if you dump out a kid that you not only can’t afford, but don’t even want. Not taking care of a child because you’re a premature ejaculator is no excuse to Put other peoples lives in danger by your inevitably screwed up kid growing up to be a societal stain! STOP PRETENDING YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE BABIES COME FROM! If you don’t want children TAKE THE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS TO PREVENT THEM FROM BECOMING A REALITY!

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