Thursday, March 23, 2006

Roe v. Wade for Men

There is a man in Michigan who has petitioned the court in order to keep from becoming financially responsible for the daughter of his ex-girlfriend.

Feminist thought teaches that women are to fight for their right to stop being "kept down by the man"...or men, as it were. But I have to say, I'm torn on this issue.

Do men have the same reproductive rights as women? Is it true that if women are allowed to have the right to choose that men should be granted that same right?

Unfortunately, what it keeps coming back to for me is that fact that a man will never have to make a decision on whether or not he wants an extremely invasive procedure inflicted upon his body in order to end a pregnancy.

I've not read everything about this issue but it seems that the group who filed this particular lawsuit has thought through what are sure to be most of the main issues that will come up.

One such issue is setting a time limit for the man to opt out of financial responsibility. This would be at some point during the first trimester. This would ensure that he doesn't decide he doesn't want to pay for the child once the child is born. The main problem I see with this is that a woman could easily withhold the information that she is pregnant in order to legally force the man into paying for the child even if he never intended to become financially responsible for any child.

(This option would also only be available if it could be proven that neither the woman nor the man intended for the pregnancy to happen.)

Another issue that this lawsuit raises is the fact that if the biological father does not intend to take financial responsibility for the child it is possible that the general taxpayer will end up shouldering some of that responsibility. Like the article says, it might be unfair for the father to be forced into taking financial responsibility for a child he never intended to father, but it is less fair for taxpayers to be held responsible for said child.

The article also points out that men already have some of the same reproductive rights as women in that they are just as able to use contraceptives and get sterilized as women are. I have to say that on this point, I completely agree. I don't trust anyone but me to ensure that I will not become pregnant. I take total responsibility for my birth control and being very aware of things like my ovulation schedule.

It doesn't seem "fair" to me that I shoulder the complete financial responsibility of the birth control I choose to use, but that's just the way it is. Unfortunately, for whatever evolutionary reason, women are the ones to become pregnant - not men. I guess if men were able to become pregnant there would be no need for discussion regarding whether or not they should be able to opt out of financial responsibility for the children they father should the woman decide to not terminate the pregnancy or put the child up for adoption.

So, I guess I'm still just torn on this. My feminist side is screaming that there's no way in hell this guy should win this lawsuit and there's no way any judge would be dumb enough to grant the option for men to opt out of becoming financially responsible for the children they father. But my practical side says that men should have some rights here...I'm just not sure what they are.

Some folks, (most, in fact,) are predicting that this suit will fail, but I'm just not sure right now how I feel about that.

*After I wrote this, David pointed out an interesting article at which discusses this very issue.

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