Abortion Contradictions

March 9th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

Abortion is a procedure with a dark past. For a very long time, secret abortions performed without the necessary medical competence was the norm, and as a consequence women died or were maimed for life. An absence of safe, legal abortions is still the case in many countries around the world, which is something I vehemently oppose.

I believe that every country that hasn’t already done so should have their abortion laws reformed, so that abortions can be done legally and with complete medical support. I fully support legislation that allows for free abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with a possibility of granting an extension as long as the fetus isn’t old enough to be able to survive outside the womb.

However, I do not support the view that once free and legal abortion is in place we have reached the goal of reproductive freedom. It’s true that free and legal abortion bestows reproductive freedom, but only upon half the population. We’ve liberated women by making available abortions that are safe, legal and in many cases included in medical insurances or government funded health care. Men however, have no rights and no freedoms  whatsoever vis-à-vis abortions.

Men and Abortions

If a woman becomes pregnant, then the woman can choose to have an abortion, even if she and her partner had agreed beforehand to have the baby. Similarly, if a couple has agreed to get an abortion in case of an accidental pregnancy, the woman can decide to keep the child and make the man pay child support for the next 18 years! No method of contraception is 100 percent safe, so accidental pregnancies do happen regularly.

These facts lead to a scenario where the woman has all the power, all the rights and all of the freedom. The woman’s decisions are the reproductive destiny of the man, in a very real sense. Every man is expected to trust a woman 100 percent, whether they are carefully planning to have a child, or if the couple is instead trying to avoid a pregnancy. 

How can we motivate men to be responsible fathers under these circumstances?

Here’s a breakdown of what pregnancy means for a man nowadays:

  1. Prenatally, the mother has all the rights. She can keep the child or have an abortion, even if that goes against what the couple had decided beforehand.
  2. Once the child is born, fathers are expected to take on 50% of the responsibility, and even if the man never wanted the child he will be forced to pay child support.
  3. In case of divorce, the woman is usually favored by the courts and women win the majority of custody battles.

This is a very confusing situation for men, to say the least. Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand; you cannot expect men to be responsible if men are not awarded any rights, yet this is exactly what we expect of men in relation to pregnancy.

What’s the Solution?

In my mind abortion is actually one of the “hard” problems of the gender field, i.e. a problem where there is no obvious solution and no obvious way to improve the current situation. I don’t believe in removing the woman’s legal right to decide when and if to get an abortion, since I cannot conceive of how that could be done in a satisfactory way.

Instead, I think we need to focus on cultural values, and how we discuss abortion in society. Instead of saying things like “my body, my choice”, I think we need to propagate the idea that men and women should make conscious agreements on how to handle accidental pregnancies, and then respect those agreements. If no agreement has been made, the potential mother and the potential father should sit down and discuss what needs to be done, from the perspective of all the affected parties.

Abortion is not about the woman having rights and simply doing whatever she feels like doing, even if she’s legally entitled to do so. It’s about taking all the affected parties into account, which include the fetus, the potential mother and the potential father.

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61 Responses to “Abortion Contradictions”

  1. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Abortion is not about the woman having rights and simply doing whatever she feels like doing, even if she’s legally entitled to do so. It’s about taking all the affected parties into account, which include the fetus, the potential mother and the potential father.

    I believe this is the norm, this is the way most women behave. Thats human nature.

    It would be interesting to try to develop legal ways of protecting mens rights, not just enforcing responsibilities, in relation to abortion.

    Case 1: She wants, he dont
    A commonly heard argument is that men are equaly responsible for the conception, thus are equally responsible for providing for the child. But as it stands now, no matter how you put it, women have 100% liberty of choice. Men have non at all.

    “My body, my choice” dont hold up too well. For instance forcing men to be involuntarial providers, means forcing them into the male provider-genderroll, means risking health, among other things, to earn the dough. Where are mens rights to their bodies? And how about the featus body? Rights?

    There are ways to legislate men out of the providerroll. That would also mean that he looses all rights towards the child. Legal abortion. Good, useless, I dont know. But a step towards a more equal abortionlaw, definately. Im sure most men wouldnt utilize such a law.

    Principle:
    While the man can, and should, have no right to decide over the womans body, he should, but havent, have the right to decide if he wants to become a father or not. Just as the female does.

    Case 2. He wants, she dont.

    I see no solution to this but the one we have. She should have 100% right over her own body.

    While he has the right to choose NOT to become a father, he has no right to choose to become one.

    Case 3 and 4 would be when the potential parents agree, and so are not relevant here.

  2. Pelle Billing Says:

    Thanks for making all the different scenarios explicit. I agree with all you say, except that I still haven’t thought enough about “legal abortion” (I’ve seen the concept being thrown around). It would indeed be a way to give men some rights in relation to abortion, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it or what the consequences would be. After all, you are still the biological father, and what right do we have to deprive the child of his/her father? Different rights are stacked against each other here and there’s no easy answer.

    Legal abortion is an interesting concept though, and well worth exploring in debates, to gain clarity on the pros and cons.

  3. Pelle Billing Says:

    “I believe this is the norm, this is the way most women behave. Thats human nature.”

    Yes, most women, but not all women. And normally we have laws to regulate what the deviant few do, not what the majority of people do. So when there is no law in place, the deviant few cannot be contained or regulated, which is unfortunate but unavoidable it seems.

  4. Danny Says:

    After all, you are still the biological father, and what right do we have to deprive the child of his/her father? Different rights are stacked against each other here and there’s no easy answer.

    Actually as it is now I don’t think different rights are being stacked against each other. Instead its a matter of the rights of the child and father being swept under the rug to that the mother can maintain her rights.

    Whether the child lives or dies. (Barring unforeseen circumstances mind you.)

    Whether the child has a biological, foster, step, etc…mother in his/her life and to what extent he is there.

    Whether the child has a biological, foster, step, etc…father in his/her life.

    Whether the biological father finds out about the pregnancy.

    Guess what? The mother has the majority control over all four of those factors and she will usually have the support of the family court system which shoots that percentage of control even higher.

    When it comes to raising children women still have majority control (despite not admitting it) and they will fight tooth and nail to keep it that way. Thing is I agree that they should have control as far as their bodies are conerned. My problem is that they want control over the child, the father, and everyone else’s involvement too. Which is why if I had the funds I would support a male birth control pill (that would take a lot of wind out their sails).

  5. Pelle Billing Says:

    “Whether the biological father finds out about the pregnancy.”

    Good point. The law could easily be changed to make it mandatory for the woman to inform the man that she is pregnant. If you combine such a law with general DNA testing of all newborns, then the status of fatherhood would start to approach that of motherhood.

    What’s your opinion on male legal abortion Danny?

  6. Danny Says:

    Well considering that mothers currently have the option of relinqushing parenting responsibilities I think it is only fair that fathers have the same options. I find it extremely unfair that a if a woman gets pregnant under less than ideal circumstances she has legal options whereas if a man gets a woman pregnant under less than ideal cirumstances his fate lies totally in the hands of the mom and family court unless he does somthing illegal like run out on her.

    Right now when it comes to parenting the deck is stacked in the mother’s favor (no matter how many years of patriarchal oppression they claim) and women want to keep it that way. Honestly I (and I’ll bet a lot of people here) do not want to limit women’s options but instead expand men’s options.

    And also I would shy away from calling it legal abortion. The term abortion is a loaded word and has become synonymous with a WOMAN’S right to choose. If men are to have at least some fraction of that I propose it be done under a different name.

  7. unomi Says:

    Geez, imagine coming into this world only to find out that your dad chose to have you “legally aborted”! And you thought regular abortion was cruel.

    There is a very easy way of avoiding all this. and that is to use a condom. Gay men have been expected for decades to always use a condom unless they are in a very stable, long term relationship where there is a lot of trust.

    Straight men and women somehow believe that things should be different for them, despite condoms being accepted as the safest, most effective form of contraceptive by governments around the world. For that reason, straight people like to talk about condoms as being incredibly fragile things that malfunction ever so often.

    Getting more men to use condoms would obviously have the added benefit of curbing the spread of various STDs. But why do that when we can “focus on cultural values”?!

    If a condom is not used, accept that whatever happens after that is the woman’s choice and that it is completely unacceptable for her to have/not have an abortion based on some “deal” she made with her partner in the past. It is also very unlikely that she would, and young men need to know this so that they can make an informed choice when considering whether to use a condom.

  8. Danny Says:

    Geez, imagine coming into this world only to find out that your dad chose to have you “legally aborted”! And you thought regular abortion was cruel.
    About the same as coming into this world and growing up in foster care because your mother didn’t want you. But in the current state of things one parent can legally abandon a child and have no responsibilities while the other can’t.

    Getting more men to use condoms would obviously have the added benefit of curbing the spread of various STDs. But why do that when we can “focus on cultural values”?!
    That is a good idea but no one said that condom use was bad or anything like that, just more options would be nice. Condoms are a great invention and I’m glad they’re around or things would be much worse. But does that mean that men should just be satisfied with condoms as their only method of birth control?

    If a condom is not used, accept that whatever happens after that is the woman’s choice and that it is completely unacceptable for her to have/not have an abortion based on some “deal” she made with her partner in the past. It is also very unlikely that she would, and young men need to know this so that they can make an informed choice when considering whether to use a condom.

    I know I just finished saying, “Honestly I (and I’ll bet a lot of people here) do not want to limit women’s options but instead expand men’s options.” The problem isn’t that women have options the problem is that men don’t.

    Isn’t it interesting when it’s a woman’s issue something must be done to stop the oppression but when its a men’s issue he’s told to “man up”?

  9. Pelle Billing Says:

    unomi:
    “Gay men have been expected for decades to always use a condom unless they are in a very stable, long term relationship where there is a lot of trust.”

    Don’t gay men make their own choices?

    Gay and straight men alike are adviced to use a condom for short term relationships, to be protected (as much as possible) against STDs. But nobody is being forced, right?

    Straight men may actually have even more of an incentive to use a condom for short term relationships, in order to be protected (as much as possible) against pregnancy.

    However, in many straight relationships there is a lot of trust, and neither partner wants to use a condom, since other contraceptives are available. Whether a condom or the pill is being used, unwanted pregnancies can and do happen, this is simply a statistical fact. And in these cases, the man has no choices at the moment.

    I still haven’t made up my mind concerning “legal abortion”, but simply discussing these issues from the male perspective is interesting, since the mainstream discussion is usually from the woman’s perspective.

  10. unomi Says:

    @Pelle
    Straight men may actually have even more of an incentive to use a condom for short term relationships, in order to be protected (as much as possible) against pregnancy.

    In that case, it’s funny that they usually don’t, and weird that this blog talks about propagating “cultural values” without even mentioning condom usage.

    Whether a condom or the pill is being used, unwanted pregnancies can and do happen

    You are equivocating. Using a condom is a much, much safer option. Men, particularly young men, need to hear this.

    @Danny
    Isn’t it interesting when it’s a woman’s issue something must be done to stop the oppression but when its a men’s issue he’s told to “man up”?

    That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that straight, fertile men and women are going to have to start using condoms a lot more than they do, possibly for the rest of their lives, if they really want to avoid unwanted pregnancies whilst having vaginal sex. One of the downsides to being able to make babies in bed.

  11. Pelle Billing Says:

    Unomi:
    “You are equivocating. Using a condom is a much, much safer option. Men, particularly young men, need to hear this.”

    I’m sorry but you are incorrect.

    The pill is safer than a condom, whether we are comparing correct use or all use of these birth control methods. The only advantage that condom use has is that it lowers the transmission of STDs drastically.

    Even when used completely correctly, 2 out of 100 couples will become pregnant when relying on condoms only. If using the pill, only 0.3 percent of couples will become pregnant if using the pill completely correctly.

    Check out these links:
    Condom effectiveness
    Oral contraceptive effectiveness

  12. Laura Says:

    “Once the child is born, fathers are expected to take on 50% of the responsibility, and even if the man never wanted the child he will be forced to pay child support.”

    I’m sure different countries have different laws, but In Iceland, children have the right to financial support from both biological parents until the age of 18. So is it true, as Danny says, that one parent can legally abandon a child while the other can’t? Can the mother, for example, get out of child support if the father decides to raise the child? If she decides to give up the baby for adoption, does this not require consent of both parents? Also, I’m curious if it’s true that healthy, newborns get abandoned to foster care when there are waiting lists of couples hoping to adopt.

    If men are given the option of “legal abortion”, do women also get the right to opt out of responsibility of supporting an unwanted child they did not abort because of moral or religious concerns?

    What we are really talking about here is the right to risk-free sex. At what expense? The state’s?

    The laws are designed to take care of the majority of cases, and inevitably, unfairness will occur. The vast majority of unwanted pregnancies occur by teenagers due to human error, not using birth control being a major factor. I believe we need to teach more responsibility in this area, not less.

    Concerning a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, if you take the stance that abortion is allowable until the point the fetus is viable, then you cannot also argue that the “child” has rights in this case, or that the father has rights to that “child”.

  13. Danny Says:

    So is it true, as Danny says, that one parent can legally abandon a child while the other can’t?
    Yes. If she wishes a mother can have a child and as long as it is done at a safe location like a hospital/police station/etc… she can leave the child no questions asked. At least in the US anyway.

    Can the mother, for example, get out of child support if the father decides to raise the child?
    Technically no she can’t just walk out on him and child like that but support is awarded by family court (which does not have the 12 jurors like a criminal court does) and judge’s discretion in family court can be quite selective. That is based on the stigma that a father does not need help to raise a child while a mother does.

    If she decides to give up the baby for adoption, does this not require consent of both parents?
    No. The father can try to fight the adoption but bear in mind that if she can hide the pregnancy from him a woman can actually give birth and give them up for adoption
    and he will have to fight an uphill battle in hopes of custody. Right now in the parenting situation in the US can be summed up in the line, “Her choice, his responsibilities.”

    Also, I’m curious if it’s true that healthy, newborns get abandoned to foster care when there are waiting lists of couples hoping to adopt.
    I’m not sure on exact numbers but yes it does happen.

    The laws are designed to take care of the majority of cases, and inevitably, unfairness will occur.
    True but in this case there is a common factor that links most of the unfairness (gender in this case).

    …if you take the stance that abortion is allowable until the point the fetus is viable, then you cannot also argue that the “child” has rights in this case, or that the father has rights to that “child”.
    I personally am still on the fence about whether or not I agree on viability being the cut off point for abortion. But notice how in your sentence Laura you have stated that the child nor the father have any rights leaving all rights and control in the mother’s hands while at the same time giving her ways to opt out of responsibilities of child care.

    If men are given the option of “legal abortion”, do women also get the right to opt out of responsibility of supporting an unwanted child they did not abort because of moral or religious concerns?
    Good question but the first thing I would take into account is the fact that women can already do that. In the US a woman can abandon a child and not be held to any responsibilities for that child no matter what her reasons are.

    Its like this. Several decades ago before today’s modern methods of tracking people down it was easy for a man to get a woman pregnant and run out on her. Now that we have the technology to find men who do this along with the punishments and penalties that go along with it is fair to say that there is something being done about men who run out on their children.

    Several decades ago before today’s modern methods of tracking people down it was easy for a woman to have a child and leave her/him at a church or orphanage and never be heard from again. Now we have the technology to find women who do this but unless the child is left in unsafe conditions there is no punishment or penalty.

    Why is it a sob story of heartache when a woman abandons a child but a grave injustice when a man does?

  14. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Geez, imagine coming into this world only to find out that your dad chose to have you “legally aborted”! And you thought regular abortion was cruel.

    Do you honestly feel that that is worse than a real abortion? If you asked a kid that had a father (or a mother) make a legal abortion if theyd rather they had been aborted for real, what do you believe they would answer? To my mind legal abortion is much more human than real abortion. Also, it probably would be much more uncommon than real abortion.

    40 out of 1000 women in sweden makes an abortion each year. This is obviously a life-style decision. ” I dont want to become a mother right now.” Im not saying that is wrong, im not making it into a moral issue. But why deny men the same right?

    Im not sure that the right of legal abortion would be utilized much, but a law to this effect would enforce the principle that mens rights, and mens issues, are as importans as womens.

    Laura
    At what expense? The state’s?

    That would seem prudent, considering the state is paying for the 30k+ abortions swedish women make every year, most of wich are unnecessary from a health-perspective.

    I definately dont think this question is top priority for men, but since its the topic of this thread we should indulge in it.

  15. Jim Says:

    “Geez, imagine coming into this world only to find out that your dad chose to have you “legally aborted”! And you thought regular abortion was cruel.”

    So I take it then Unomi, that you are saying that amother giving her child up for adoption, “legally aborting” it, is crueler than physical abortion? Because that what’s “legal abortion” is, voluntary termination of parental ties, putting the child up for adoption, or in this case relinquishing him/her to the mother.

    “There is a very easy way of avoiding all this. and that is to use a condom. ”

    Is that an argument against physical abortion? Sauce for the goose…….

    “and that it is completely unacceptable for her to have/not have an abortion based on some “deal” she made with her partner in the past. ”

    You’re saying here basically that a woman’s word is worthless. Misogynist much?

    “In the US a woman can abandon a child and not be held to any responsibilities for that child no matter what her reasons are.”

    For the benefit of thse not familair with what he s refering to, more and more states in the US are allowing for “drop-boxes” for infants, no questions asked. In a truly silly case, nebraska passed a law like this but failed to specify a cut-off age. One woman drove several hundred miles to drop off her four children, the oldest of which was 17. (There has to be a back story to that one, probably failrly sad and funny at the same time; I know she was wrong, but I hesitate to condemn her out of hand.)

    “Why is it a sob story of heartache when a woman abandons a child but a grave injustice when a man does?”

    Danny, because there are misogynists who doubt that women have any real agency in the matter.

  16. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Jim:
    Good point about adoptions and legal abortion.

    I wonder what rules legislates adoptions. Maybe the same should apply to legal abortion.

    Maybe legal abortion should be renamed to individual adoption or something like that.

  17. Pelle Billing Says:

    Laura:

    “If men are given the option of “legal abortion”, do women also get the right to opt out of responsibility of supporting an unwanted child they did not abort because of moral or religious concerns?”

    I’m still not sure how I feel about legal abortion, but if it’s implemented the law should be gender neutral in my opinion.

    “If she decides to give up the baby for adoption, does this not require consent of both parents?”

    It does, if the father has established legal paternity in the correct way. So it’s not the adoption legislation that needs changing here, it is the establishing of paternity that is outdated (see my post on DNA testing all newborns).

    “So is it true, as Danny says, that one parent can legally abandon a child while the other can’t?”

    As Danny says, the mother is allowed to do this (in the US at least). Technically speaking though, the law is gender neutral, as far as I understand it. Again, the issue is one of mothers not being obliged to inform the putative father, and newborns not being DNA tested. It’s only when paternity gets the same status as maternity that the laws concerning parenthood will be gender neutral and as fair as possible.

    “What we are really talking about here is the right to risk-free sex. At what expense? The state’s?”

    I’m a great believer in personal accountability, and I do think that people need to deal with the consequences of their actions. However, legal abortion (male or female) or putting a child up for adoption needn’t be an issue as long as there are more adults who want to adopt, than there are parents who want to relinquish their children.

    “Concerning a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, if you take the stance that abortion is allowable until the point the fetus is viable, then you cannot also argue that the “child” has rights in this case, or that the father has rights to that “child”.”

    Why not? Even if it’s still not a viable child, it is an ongoing process within the woman that will end up as a child if no intervention is taken.

    I appreciate your comments Laura, they made me think more deeply and widely.

  18. Bj0rnborg Says:

    “maybe the same shoud apply to legal abortion” I was supposed to say.

  19. Var är männens rättigheter kring abort? « GenusNytt Says:

    [...] Var är männens rättigheter kring abort? By parstrom Pelle Billing har skrivit ett mycket intressant inlägg på sin blogg om mäns avsaknad av rättigheter kring abort och graviditet. Som han skriver, män har alla skyldigheter men inga rättigheter. Läs mer här. [...]

  20. unomi Says:

    Let me see if I’ve got this legal abortion thing right. A guy gets a girl knocked up, fills out a form, and then never has to deal with that problem, which he helped create, ever again?

    Meanwhile, the girl has to either go through the trauma of having an abortion, or faces being the sole provider/parent of a child for the next 18 years. Sounds fair to me!

    Re. condom efficacy: There seem to be a lot of different numbers out there, probably because knowing what people actually do with their condoms in the privacy of their own bedroom is virtually impossible. The Johns Hopkins HIV guide, for example, describes condoms as being “essentially 100% effective when used properly”.

    Of course, unless the guy has spoon fed his girl the pill (and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the guys on this site do) there will always be that extra layer of uncertainty for anyone who doesn’t use a condom.

    It is also interesting to note that people’s perception of how safe condoms are seems to vary by country. Let me rephrase that: Many Americans hold the very strange view that condoms aren’t very safe at all.

  21. Jim Says:

    “Let me see if I’ve got this legal abortion thing right.”

    You don’t have it right, because she has another choice. She can opt out of raisng the kid too by putting it up for adoption or dropping it off in a drop box.

    “A guy gets a girl knocked up”

    I know you really meant to say “A girl gets herself knocked up.” presuming she wasn’t raped. It was her choice too, or do you subscribe to the frail, dainty pure vessel without any sexual desire or agency version of womanhood?

    “Many Americans hold the very strange view that condoms aren’t very safe at all.”

    You might make that claim if you could support it with a poll or something, or is that just your experience with how many Americans, or is that just an unsupported feeling of yours? Bythe way, b safe, do you mean, do you mean safe as in preventing pregancy or as in preventing STDs?

    You still haven’t answered my question as to your position on a woman avoiding pregancy by simply insisting on the use of a condom.

  22. Jim Says:

    Unomi, hope you can make some sense of the hash that is my final paragraph.

  23. Danny Says:

    Unomi:
    Let me see if I’ve got this legal abortion thing right. A guy gets a girl knocked up, fills out a form, and then never has to deal with that problem, which he helped create, ever again?

    Meanwhile, the girl has to either leave the child in a safe location, give the child up for adoption, go through the trauma of having an abortion, or faces being the sole provider/parent of a child for the next 18 years. Sounds fair to me!

    Certainly does when you actually list all the options.

  24. Pelle Billing Says:

    Unomi:

    “Re. condom efficacy: There seem to be a lot of different numbers out there, probably because knowing what people actually do with their condoms in the privacy of their own bedroom is virtually impossible. The Johns Hopkins HIV guide, for example, describes condoms as being “essentially 100% effective when used properly”.”

    Even when couples use condoms exactly as intended, pregnancies do happen, and many couples don’t use condoms exactly as intended and then the pregnancy rate is even more significant. The bottom line is: unwanted pregnancies do happen, and we need a way to deal with them that is satisfactory to women and men alike. At the moment we have abortion laws that give women substantial rights, and reproductive freedom, but we don’t have any laws that give men any rights whatsoever. Is this reasonable?

    I don’t think it’s reasonable, but I’m still thinking about what the best way to implement change would be.

  25. Laura Says:

    “In the US a woman can abandon a child and not be held to any responsibilities for that child no matter what her reasons are.”

    Well, Danny, then I agree the US law is unfair. But I would rather see it changed in favor of more responsibility of the parents, not less (you may have misunderstood me there – I’m not for allowing mothers to “opt out”). The Icelandic law is more equitable, requiring both parent’s participation, although admittedly, child custody cases still favor the mother. Not because of the law though. If anyone is interested, here is the Icelandic Act in Respect to Children in English: http://www.domsmalaraduneyti.is/log-og-reglugerdir/thydingar//nr/916

    “For the benefit of thse not familair with what he s refering to, more and more states in the US are allowing for “drop-boxes” for infants, no questions asked.”

    Now that is just bizarre. And people are always asking me why I left the US.

    “Why not? Even if it’s still not a viable child, it is an ongoing process within the woman that will end up as a child if no intervention is taken.”

    Because that is exactly the argument used by anti-abortionists who wish to outlaw abortion altogether. Either you have to define the fetus as a fetus or a child. It would be a legal mess to have it both ways.

    “However, legal abortion (male or female) or putting a child up for adoption needn’t be an issue as long as there are more adults who want to adopt, than there are parents who want to relinquish their children.”

    I don’t think adoption (with both parent’s consent) should be an issue, but legal abortion would allow one parent to opt out on their responsibility, putting the full burden on the other. My feeling is that a law like this has much more potential for abuse than the current rare case of a conniving female tricking a man into child support for a baby he didn’t want. How would this be proved anyway? A legal pre-sex document where the women waives all rights to child support in the case of pregnancy? Creepy…

  26. Laura Says:

    I just wanted to make it clear, the Icelandic law requiring participation of both parents is not written with fairness to the parents in mind…it is written under the Barnalög (literally, Children’s Law). It is all about the CHILD’s right to be supported by both parents, and also the child’s right to have access to both parents.

    I personally believe the child’s rights should take precedence over the parent’s rights to sex without consequences.

  27. Pelle Billing Says:

    Laura:

    “Because that is exactly the argument used by anti-abortionists who wish to outlaw abortion altogether. Either you have to define the fetus as a fetus or a child. It would be a legal mess to have it both ways.”

    I’m not talking about the law here. Legally it’s a fetus, not a child, and therefore the woman can decide to have an abortion. As I wrote in my post, I cannot conceive of a satisfactory way to change this law. But culturally speaking, people (women) can be encouraged to see the wider picture, and include the man and the fetus in her considerations before deciding to have an abortion or not. Many women already think this way of course, but far from everyone, and it would be nice to transcend the mantra of “my body, my choice” and instead say something like “my choice, many factors to consider”.

    “How would this be proved anyway? A legal pre-sex document where the women waives all rights to child support in the case of pregnancy? Creepy…”

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. Legal abortion would simply be a time frame during which either parent can opt out from legal maternity/paternity. However, the societal ramifications are hard to grasp, and I still haven’t made up my mind on whether it’s a reform I want to support or not. I think the two more pressing concerns are to raise the status of fatherhood by DNA testing all newborns and by making it illegal for a woman not to inform the putative father that you’re pregnant. These laws would hold men accountable even more than today, but they would finally give men a set of rights too, when it comes to being a father.

  28. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Im fascinated about how quickly Unomi turned this into a moral question, while she dont have a similar approach to real abortions.

    The mainpoint here is that this would be a law that in no way interferes with the reproductive rights women already have. The arguments against presented thus far seem to be mostly moral ones, wich in turn is based on the roll of the male, the male genderroll, as a provider.

    Obviously his duties as a provider seems more established than his rights as a person.

  29. unomi Says:

    @Jim

    You don’t have it right, because she has another choice. She can opt out of raisng the kid too by putting it up for adoption or dropping it off in a drop box.

    Yeah, because carrying a child for 9 months and then dropping it in a BOX, or giving it up for adoption, is not at all painful compared with filling out a form a few weeks after you had sex with someone.

    “There is a very easy way of avoiding all this. and that is to use a condom. ”

    Is that an argument against physical abortion? Sauce for the goose…….

    No of course it’s not. The premise of this discussion has so far been that nobody wants to change existing abortion laws. Against that backdrop, using a condom seems like a very good idea for most men.

    “Many Americans hold the very strange view that condoms aren’t very safe at all.”

    You might make that claim if you could support it with a poll or something, or is that just your experience with how many Americans, or is that just an unsupported feeling of yours?

    Take a look around the Internets, my friend. Where do you find educated people (HEALTHCARE specialists) saying things like condoms being “80% safe”, etc?

  30. Jim Says:

    “Against that backdrop, using a condom seems like a very good idea for most men.”

    Using a condom when you don’t want a conception is always a good idea. But that is a distraction from the question because the discussion is about what happens in that small percentage of cases when that maeasure fails, and what to do about the inequity of allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy or renounce a child when no condom is used – and that is the responsibility of both partners equally, since both can know for sure whether or not one is being used – and not allowing the man the same rights.

    “Take a look around the Internets, my friend. Where do you find educated people (HEALTHCARE specialists) saying things like condoms being “80% safe”, etc?”

    Oh, my. If that’s your standard of evidence, this is going to be difficult. But here goes….There are “HEALTHCARE specialists” who advocate all sorts of stupid and worthless nonsense up to and including including circumcision as a healthcare procedure. What could your point possible be in quoting such people?

    Your position seems to be that condonms are always safe. In view of Pelle’s comments above, how is that position any more rational than these people’s extreme and silly statements?

    “Yeah, because carrying a child for 9 months and then dropping it in a BOX, or giving it up for adoption, is not at all painful compared with filling out a form a few weeks after you had sex with someone.”

    To begin with “giving it (sic) up for adoption” and “filling out a form a few weeks after you had sex with someone” are the same thing. The child is both parent’s flesh and blood, adoption is the same for both.

    oh, and please don’t even try that business of “carrying it in your body and having a closer bond”. It’s bullshit. I am here to tell you that the bonding experience varies by individual but can be exactly the same for mothers and fathers. The endocrine physiology is very similar. Dispute or disbelieve as you like, but you are probably not in a position to know very much about fatherhood.

    Pelle,

    ““my body, my choice”

    I think if we are talking about reproductive choice, about reproduction, then the honest (and equal to both parents) formulation would be “my child, my choice”.

    Because ““my body, my choice” is really about bodily autonomy. That’s worthy and important too, but it is a different issue and should to be discussed in the context of bodily autonomy for all people in a society.

  31. unomi Says:

    @Jim

    What could your point possible be in quoting such people?

    If you ever leave the US, I think you’ll find that anyone with any sort of university degree, let alone a medical professional, knows that condoms are more than 80% safe.

    what to do about the inequity of allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy or renounce a child when no condom is used

    Well, unless you want to change the abortion laws (and none of us do), maybe make sure there are fewer of those incidents by using more condoms?

    The other option that has been mentioned is the very unfair idea of “legal abortions”, whereby a man really has no responsibilities at all.

    The child is both parent’s flesh and blood, adoption is the same for both.

    Er, no. Only one of them will have to put up with being fat and lying at job interviews for 9 months, and taking the risk of suffering complications whilst giving birth, before the adoption.

    you are probably not in a position to know very much about fatherhood

    And you sound like the kind of father whose kids are taking “abstinence vows” as we speak. The good news is that when they have knocked THEMSELVES up (see, I’m learning!) you can give them some of that “focus on cultural values” goodness to make sure the guy has a say in what happens to the baby. Alternatively, help him with his “legal abortion” paperwork.

  32. Jim Says:

    “If you ever leave the US, :

    If you ever get out from behind your mother’s apron, you learn not to make a bunch baseless assumptions and snotty remarks that make you look like an ass. Do you suppose that I learned Swedish by never leaving the US? In your case, probably so. By the way, Miss World Traveller, how many non-European languages do you speak? Hah – your case I would settle for European languages – how many of those do you speak?

    “I think you’ll find that anyone with any sort of university degree, let alone a medical professional, knows that condoms are more than 80% safe.”

    Which is of course completely unresponsive to my point, and probably a good example of your inability to make and defend your point.

    In this case you just contradicted yourself – first you claim you are quoting “HEALTHCARE specialists” who claim that condoms are only 80% effective, and now you claim that everyone who is a medical professional knows that condoms are more than 80% safe. You will be much more persuasive if you don’t contradict and argue against yourself.

    “Er, no. Only one of them will have to put up with being fat and lying at job interviews for 9 months, and taking the risk of suffering complications whilst giving birth, before the adoption.”

    Oh, waaaaah. “I’m so faaaaaat and ugly – my GIRLISH figure!!!!” One day you’ll be a full grown woman and will appreciate a full figure as the sign of maturity. That’s probably a long way off.

    Lying at job interviews? Try being a gay man for a month, breeder, then tell me all about covering and passing, and long after the interview. Tell me all about it.

    Risk of complications? If pregancy is so dangerous for your persoanlly, then use a condom and insist he does. Because really you should not be passing bad design like that along to another generation.

    “And you sound like the kind of father whose kids are taking “abstinence vows” as we speak. ”

    There you go with the mindless mind-reading. You really are full of your comfortable and fashionable little bigotries and certainties. Well, someday you may grow up and learn something about the world and people outside your little circle. For all you know every one of my kids is somewhere fucking their way across the continent, all in different directions. And you probably would have no clue as to which continent. You might try to concentrate on what is actually said and to trust less your prejudices.

    “And you sound like …..”

    It’s obvious by now that you don’t have the life experience to be able to tell what anyone on a blog comment thread *sounds* like.

  33. Danny Says:

    Jim:
    oh, and please don’t even try that business of “carrying it in your body and having a closer bond”. It’s bullshit.
    I don’t know Jim perhaps mothers do have something more of a closer bond. Check this out. Apparently a mother’s bond is so strong she can abuse her child for years and still use her parental rights as a bargaining chip in a plea bargain deal. When is the last time you’ve seen a father do that?

    Unomi:
    Er, no. Only one of them will have to put up with being fat and lying at job interviews for 9 months, and taking the risk of suffering complications whilst giving birth, before the adoption.
    And this is why women want to maintain their current level of control when it comes to parenting. They want to be able to beat men over the head with that 9 month headstart for eternity. I mean really Jim notice how unomi almost always goes back to “we carry them so we should have control” despite the fact that no one here wants to reduce women’s options and rights in the matter. unomi is invoking the pain of child bearing in order to keep men’s options and rights down.

  34. Jim Says:

    “I don’t know Jim perhaps mothers do have something more of a closer bond.”

    Danny, ownership was not the bond I was refering to. Women commonly do exercise that bond, especially in divorces or when trying to keep an insufficiently subservient man under control. oh, wait for the jab about men being weaklings under a woman’s control, or how a “real man” won’t be controlled even by a threat of permanent loss of his children. Of course if he does risk that, it’s because he’s heartless and irresponsible enough to abandon them.

    “unomi is invoking the pain of child bearing in order to keep men’s options and rights down.”

    Would he/she invoke the rate of industrial accidents and deaths to keep women’s options and rights down? What do you think?

  35. Danny Says:

    Jim:
    Danny, ownership was not the bond I was refering to.
    Oh you’re right I was trying to be sarcastic. But yes I was pointing to how women love to pull this trump card whenever they think their control is threatened, even when it is really not.

    Would he/she invoke the rate of industrial accidents and deaths to keep women’s options and rights down? What do you think?
    No because that would be oppresive patriarchal whining.

  36. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jim and Unomi, you both make excellent contributions all the time, so let’s keep the tone civil around here. No personal attacks and no assumptions about the other person’s private situation. OK?

    This is a kickass discussion thread, so let’s get back on track :)

    Pelle

  37. Jim Says:

    Ja visst.

  38. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hey Jim, I’m impressed by your idiomatic Swedish! :)

  39. Jim Says:

    It has been more tha 35 years, but I remember some. I couldn’t remember if ‘ja’ and ‘visst’ should be written together. It’s still not on the level of using an expression like “big, fat lie”.

  40. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Javisst :)

    Danny:

    I think this is an interesting line of thought that should be discussed further. Moral is subjective. Still moral arguments are often used to combat male issues/supress male debaters. I find that very interesting (and frustrating, since it have been a very effective tool to silence men for too long).

  41. Jim Says:

    bj0rnberg,

    You hit the nail on the head – moral disapproval wearing a mask of theory is half the problem with unhealthy feminism.

    How traditional is this – a bunch of middle-aged women condemning and denouncing “rowdy” and “disrespectful” and all the rest. Hardly very progressive.

    This is the same old social reforming crusader bullshit we see over and over. sometimes it’s good – the Abolition Movement, the movement to get rid of child labor, and then sometimes it only means well – the Temperance (anti-alcohol) Movement and Prohibition , and now Feminism. In Sweden you are very familiar with this type of thing.

  42. Bj0rnborg Says:

    In sweden SHAME is a very real concept indeed. Our whole culture evolves around it.

  43. Danny Says:

    Jim:
    …moral disapproval wearing a mask of theory is half the problem with unhealthy feminism.
    True. This is how you end up with people saying in one breath that a woman should fight back against a man that is attacking her while in the next saying that a man should never hit a woman and should just leave the situation. Pretty damn hypocritical to advocate “fight” for one side and impose “flight” on the other based on gender.

  44. Chris Marshall Says:

    I have a proposal that I think goes a long way toward balance reproductive rights between men and women, and fully respects the rights of children to the support of both parents.

    In one sentence, if a married woman gets an abortion in bad faith, then her husband has the right to divorce her with prejudice.

    Let me explain what I mean by “bad faith” and “divorce with prejudice”.

    I think a wife owes her husband a good faith effort to bring a child he gets her pregnant with to term, unless they both agree they don’t want the child. If her health is at risk, then she should have the right to get an abortion over his objection without consequence, as a serious risk to your health is beyond “good faith”. I think we all agree that a husband owes his wife a good faith effort to raise/protect/care-for any children he gets her pregnant with and I see my proposal as recognizing the female obligations of this common sense concept.

    A divorce with prejudice means that you can divorce the other party and take the majority of the assets and you get automatic custody of any existing children.

    I think adultery should be handled the same way, BTW: unless both husband and wife have agreed to an open marriage, then they have promised to be faithful to each other. If one side violated that promise, then the other side, if they feel so wronged then they want a divorce as a result, should be able to get a divorce with prejudice.

    The main concept in play here is that society sometimes has to punish people for breaking their promises, or society would quickly disintegrate. Does anyone doubt the chaos that would result if we didn’t hold men accountable for child support? So while a woman should always have the sole right in deciding whether to have an abortion or not (because it’s her body), that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be punished for breaking a promise she willingly made when she consented to having sex with her husband.

    To my knowledge, I am the only person who has ever written about this idea. I have yet to see it in print, and I have yet to be able to get it discussed much on the internet. Although I have some theories as to why, it is not clear to me why this idea is such a non-starter.

  45. Pelle Billing Says:

    Interesting proposal, Chris. It sounds a bit harsh to me, that the woman would lose custody of her existing kids simply for having an abortion. Is there a way to make your proposal less harsh?

  46. Chris Marshall Says:

    >Is there a way to make your proposal less harsh?

    Well, of course. Fiddle with the concept of divorce-with-prejudice to exclude losing custody of kids, and to constitute less of a financial penalty. My main idea was that there be some negative consequences for having broken a promise willingly made. How negative those should be it completely up for discussion.

    I’m curious if you find that my basic idea has any merit.

    Beyond that, I would also like to argue about what’s reasonable. Don’t you find the behavior of a woman that would unilaterally decide to have an abortion against her husband’s wishes, after he was all excited about the child to be, harsh?

  47. Pelle Billing Says:

    I understand that you want to level the playing field Chris, but I doubt that your solution would work. Many people have children or abortions without being married, so only targeting marriages is limited. It would also be difficult to determine whether there had been an agreement beforehand to keep the child or not.

    I think it’s better for men’s rights activists to lobby for these reforms:
    1. DNA testing of all newborns. This means that if your wife/gf gives birth to a child even though you had agreed to have an abortion in case of pregnancy, you at least know for sure that it’s your own child that you’re raising and/or paying child support to.
    2. All pregnant women having to inform the putative father of the pregnancy, as soon as they become aware of it. That way the man will have time to prepare for fatherhood, and there is no way that a child of his can be hidden from him.
    3. A third option is to always have a conflict resolution meeting if the man and woman disagree on whether to have an abortion. The woman would still be entitled to make the final decision, but this would at least ensure that the man be heard, and hopefully that the couple can reach a joint decision.

  48. Chris Marshall Says:

    >Many people have children or abortions without being married, so only targeting marriages is limited.

    I realize that my proposal doesn’t address every situation, or even the most common problematic one. But it does address the most unjust situation: how a man that has acted completely honorably can still have his rights as a husband/father swept aside.

    I like your 1, 2, and 3 items, I think they would reduce the frequency of men being defrauded and abused, but I don’t think they address the fundamental unfairness of family law toward men.

    I think directly addressing the unjustness of the law is a very important step toward gender equality/liberation and tip-toeing around it is no substitute.

  49. Chris Marshall Says:

    >but I doubt that your solution would work

    You mean that if implemented, it wouldn’t change much, or that it would be very unlikely that agitation on that front would get us anywhere?

    Do you agree with the justness of my proposal, but you think society at large would not?

    I tend to agree with you that agitation on this front would get us nowhere, because most people would not agree that it was just (I can sense that even if I can’t understand the reasoning behind it).

    I am having trouble understanding what a principled argument against my proposal would look like, though.

    I see my bad-faith abortion proposal it as a straight forward extension of my adultery proposal. Did you find my adultery proposal compelling?

  50. Pelle Billing Says:

    I very much appreciate your passion Chris, and while I understand the reasoning behind your proposal, I don’t think it would work.

    I am having trouble understanding what a principled argument against my proposal would look like, though.

    Well, the first argument is that people sometimes change their mind. Just like a husband or a wife might ask for a divorce, even though they’ve taken vows to stay together for life, a woman might change her mind about having a baby. We don’t punish the husband or wife for wanting a divorce, even though their spouse might have been a lovely spouse, so how can we justify punishing a woman who changes her mind and wants an abortion, regardless of what she told her husband beforehand?

    If we want to level the playing field for men and women when it comes to abortions, then we need to institute a male right to have a legal abortion, meaning that a man can sign away his parental rights and obligations before the birth of the child. That way both sexes would be able to abort. However, I don’t support such an option at this point, simply because I believe that the right of the child to have the support of both its parents trumps the right of the father in this case. It’s not an easy decision to make though, but that’s the conclusion I’ve drawn at this point in time.

    So for the time being, I think men would do best to fight for the three points I list above. Once those three are in place, then we can regroup, evaluate and decide whether anything else is needed.

  51. Chris Marshall Says:

    >We don’t punish the husband or wife for wanting a divorce, even though their spouse might have been a lovely spouse, so how can we justify punishing a woman who changes her mind and wants an abortion, regardless of what she told her husband beforehand?

    Because she made an implicit promise beforehand to make a good faith effort to bear the child, unless her husband agrees with her that she should have an abortion.

    Men and women often get very excited when they, or their spouse, get pregnant, well before the baby is born. If the woman suffers a car accident and the fetus is killed, she and her husband would typically feel a great loss, sometimes rivaling the loss new parents would feel at losing a newborn.

    I have noticed that in American culture, a man that gives a negative reaction when informed that his wife is pregnant and excited is generally regarded as having violated a solemn promise he made, regardless of any understanding they might have had about not wanting children. I posit that this expectation of support is very deeply ingrained and for good reasons.

    I don’t see how the reverse expectation (that a woman should make a good faith effort to bear any children that she becomes pregnant with that her husband is excited about) can not hold, if we are serious about men and women being equal partners in child raising. I think that failing to take that expectation seriously in culture and law can only mean that our society does not consider men and women to have roughly equivalent roles in raising and nurturing children, even if the legal situation in which such a conflict would arise is rare.

  52. Pelle Billing Says:

    A male birth control pill would be a great asset. That way men would be able to control their own reproduction, the same way women can. Condoms exist and are great for short term relationships, but many people don’t want to use them in long term relationships.

    I understand that you want to level the playing field when it comes to reproduction but I’m still not sure your proposal would work. Perhaps the US needs to be more like Sweden instead? In Sweden there’s no alimony, ever, so a husband can always divorce his wife without needing to support her for years and years afterwards. So “divorcing with prejudice” makes less sense in Sweden, since alimony isn’t even on the table. If divorces are fair, then either party can always feel free to leave the marriage, if the partner behaves in an unacceptable way.

  53. Chris Marshall Says:

    >I understand that you want to level the playing field when it comes to reproduction but I’m still not sure your proposal would work.

    I suppose it depends on the problem you are trying to solve. I am most concerned about how unjust the family courts, and culture, are to men that are behaving honorably/decently toward their wives and children. For society to turn a blind eye in that direction is curious indeed, for all its talk of equality, rights and fairness.

    I’m not sure exactly what problem you are trying to solve. Two of your proposals would make help reduce that amount of paternity fraud (I completely agree with your proposals and that paternity fraud is a big problem), and the third one (conflict resolution) is something of a nod in the direction of father’s rights. It’s probably worth trying, and I’ll bet it would be violently opposed, given the current climate. I think your proposals are good starting points.

    However, I don’t see your “sometimes people change their minds” as a principled response to my “people should face consequences when they break promises.”

    You need to argue that women do not make the implicit promise I claim they do when they get married, or introduce a factor I am overlooking.

  54. Pelle Billing Says:

    Ok, after thinking some more about your proposal, I suppose that having an abortion within a marriage, could reasonably be said to be grounds for a divorce without alimony or less alimony. Since we don’t have alimony in Sweden, it’s a non-issue for us, but in a US context I suppose that such a measure could be feasible.

    Marriage in itself is quickly becoming outdated, and I believe that the whole framework of marriage would need to be reformed for it to be an attractive option in the future.

    As I said before, I don’t believe in removing custody of existing kids, or removing child support, since that may unnecessarily hurt the children.

  55. Chris Marshall Says:

    >Marriage in itself is quickly becoming outdated, and I believe that the whole framework of marriage would need to be reformed for it to be an attractive option in the future.

    I certainly agree that reform is necessary, but I am not sure what you mean that marriage itself is becoming outdated?

    I think marriage boils down to a ‘partnership with rights of survivorship,’ that is, both parties commit to building a life together and supporting their children, if one party dies the other inherits the whole thing, and if one party tries to walk away, they have to pay a penalty (division of assets, continuing support for some time, …) to the other.

    Without such obvious arrangements, I don’t see why the average person would agree to have children with anyone else, since their valid interests (and those of their children) would not be protected.

    Which aspects of that do you find outdated?

  56. Pelle Billing Says:

    I think marriage needs to become more flexible. Some ground rules need to remain, but I believe that people will want to form individual contracts at some point. Why not decide on alimony and child custody before the marriage, in case of divorce?

    So the concept of marriage/partnership is far from outdated, it simply needs to evolve.

  57. JC Says:

    In general, women are consistently left to deal with unwanted pregnancy on their own, men rarely step up and get involved, and the laws still make it hard for women, religion makes it harder for women, all around spiritually, mentally and physically pregnancy, abortion and birth control have fallen predominantly on women, all you have to do is examine the ‘single parent’ households statistics and the overwhelming majority are run by women with no paternal input, support, financial or otherwise. Women have also been subjected to countless forms of birth control that have harmful and dangerous side effects, vasectomies are a relatively painless and simple operation that can be reversed– years ago women would even suffer major surgery, hysterectomies which is the removal of internal organs/reproductive organs– men have in the majority of the sense ‘gotten off easy’ in the debate around abortion, unwanted/wanted pregnancies and birth control responsibilities.

  58. Jim Says:

    “In general, women are consistently left to deal with unwanted pregnancy on their own, ”

    Well that follows from “Our bodies, ourselves”

    Beyond that, there are still too many women that think they have a divine right to complete contriol over children, to decide how and how much the father can do with the children and to use them as pawns in divorce machinations. Perhaps when those legal inequalities are remedied and men have more of a say in the outcome, then we may start to invest more in the process. But be careful of what you wish for, JC – that investment in the decision can go either way. A man may decide he wants the child, and ask the women why his wishes should count for less than hers.

  59. Chris Marshall Says:

    JC:

    How do you figure men rarely step up to deal with unwanted pregnancies?

    Do you have stats on that?

    You seem to assume that most single mothers were abandoned by their child’s father.

    I have to wonder how many are single by choice (they didn’t want the father directly involved so they divorced him and got child support which he has to pay on pain of debtor’s prison should he fail for any reason)

  60. Danny Says:

    JC:
    …men rarely step up and get involved…
    If there is such a problem about men not stepping up then why are mothers and the courts actively ignoring (at best) and actively working against (at worst) fathers who are trying to step. How much money is the governemnt spending on helping noncustodial parents maintain visitation rights vs how much money the government is speding on helping custodial parents get their monthly support. If people really want men to step up then how about putting some effort into helping the ones that are to setp up but are getting knocked down by mothers and the system. Its real easy to blanketly say that men are being fathers because that is what is politically correct to say these days. Policitians aren’t going to win any votes actually helping dads because there is too much profit in hurting them.

    Even before recent economic times the majority of men that were paying child support were making not much above poverty level wages. Yet this has not prevented the creation of the image of the “deadbeat dad” that makes 7 figures, takes out of the country vacations, and openly ignores his financial obligations. Those guys are rare yet they are presented as the norm.

  61. AlexNY Says:

    This problem gets resolved technically when a reliable and private form of male birth control is commercially available.

    It won’t be long. This is one of those problems that go away if you ignore it.


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