Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 7

Male Reproductive Rights?

Women's reproductive rights continue to be a hot topic of debate now 35+ years after the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. Personally, I believe in a woman's autonomy to choose her reproductive destiny, unfettered by, e.g., spousal (or male) consent, parental consent, unreasonable restriction by the state, and so on. Pro-choice to me has always meant that there was a choice: to bear a child or not.

But I also have always believed that with choice comes responsibility, and I think there is a certain logic to the position that if women want to have the sole right to decide whether or not to have children, then they also should bear the full responsibility of that decision. So I have to admit to being a bit sympathetic to men who don't want children but have no choice when their spouses, girlfriends, mates make the decision to bear a child without their consent.

Legal cases have uniformly taken the position that, in the best interests of the child, the unwilling father should financially (if not emotionally) support the child. That position was recently affirmed in this case. The woman in question knew this fellow didn't want children, and told him she had a medical condition that would prevent pregnancy. I'm sure he thought there was nothing to worry about. After the child was born, he was ordered to pay child support and he sued that this order violated his reproductive right, styling his lawsuit Roe v. Wade for Men. His lawsuit was dismissed as frivolous. Why?

I'd be up in arms if the court had ruled that this guy could somehow force the ex-girlfriend to bear the child against her will. It would be like something from The Handmaiden's Tale. Yet why should she have the right to bear the child against his will and impose the legal consequences of that decision upon him? He's looking at a minimum of eighteen years of financial obligation for a decision in which he was not permitted to participate. At some basic level, that strikes me as unfair.

What do you think? Should there be male reproductive rights?

No comments: