Full disclosure: at a point in my distant past a woman aborted a child of mine. She didn't tell me about it for 10 years. I still feel the loss.
I don't approve of abortion. Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, and hopefully will someday take its place next to Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal schools) and Bowers v. Hardwick (sexual privacy) as cases that were undone by far superior decisions.
This is not a topic I usually address on this blog, but I've read two articles on the topic recently and thought I'd share them. And I'm going to share them because our current laws regarding abortion, a woman's so-called right to choose, and support for children remain among the last overtly biased laws on our nation's books. They're clearly biased against men.
I'm sure my friends on the left will stand with me in this case because bias against anyone is wrong. Right? Especially if that bias is caused by something (skin color, physical handicaps, etc) over which the oppressed has no control because it is a natural condition. And bias against women (76 cents to a dollar!) must stop. What about the bias against men?
I've never accepted the pro-abortion's crowd that "It's my body and I can do with it what I want." No, you can't, at least not legally. You can't put illegal drugs in it. In most jurisdictions you can't sell it for sex. So no, you can't do whatever you want with it.
It's your choice? What about men's choices? If a woman wants to have an abortion but the man doesn't want her to, she can have the abortion, and he has no say in it. If the woman wants to keep the child but the man wants nothing to do with it, she bears the child, he is legally compelled to pay child support for at least 18 years, and he has no say in it. In both cases the woman has all the say and the man has none. There's no justice here. There's no appeal, because it's the law itself that separates men from the justice they deserve.
The articles I've read recently come from The Huffington Post and the LA Times, neither known for being a hotbed of conservative thought. These two articles are actually written from a feminist perspective and yet they call into question our current injustices with regards to men.
Here are a few quotes from the first:
In fact, we actively try to mitigate the effects of physical differences even though it comes at enormous costs to the rest of society -- particularly small business owners. Likewise, we reject social assignment based on other physical characteristics such as skin tone, most notably. And many progressives (including myself) think it absurd that only a pair of individuals who have the opposite sex organs should be able to enter the social and economic contract of a marriage with all the rights (and responsibilities) attendant to that contract.
The key to my argument is separating out the costs and risks of pregnancy from the issue of the child as joint property -- for lack of a better word. If you believe that a fetus is only a woman’s and part of her body, then the argument stops there. But then shouldn’t paternal obligations be abrogated too (other than compensating the woman for the “tort” he has inflicted by inseminating her -- i.e. perhaps paying for the cost of an abortion and associated pain and suffering)? From the point of view of the potential “father,” what distinction is there between his responsibilities to a bunch of cells when it is in the uterus to it when it is born if all the material “stuff” that created that child is donated, if you will, by the mother save half of the instruction manual (i.e. DNA)? The answer may be that he engaged in contract with the woman when he engaged in intercourse. Perfectly reasonable is to say that sex is not a contract, in which case, pregnancy should be non-binding on the father, no? (But can the same be said for sex within the marriage contract?) Again, if it all boils down to the fact that “it’s a woman’s body” then let’s have a real discussion of what can and can’t be expected of fathers.
Here are some quotes from the second:
But even though I was raised believing in the inviolability of a woman's right to choose, the older I get, the more I wonder if this idea of choice is being fairly applied.
Since we're throwing around radical ideas about abortion rights, let me raise this question: If abortion is to remain legal and relatively unrestricted — and I believe it should — why shouldn't men have the right during at least the first trimester of pregnancy to terminate their legal and financial rights and responsibilities to the child?
As Conley laments, the law does not currently allow for men to protect the futures of the fetuses they help create. What he doesn't mention — indeed, no one ever seems to — is the degree to which men also cannot protect their own futures. The way the law is now, a man who gets a woman pregnant is not only powerless to force her to terminate the pregnancy, he also has a complete legal obligation to support that child for at least 18 years.
In other words, although women are able to take control of their futures by choosing from at least a small range of options — abortion, adoption or keeping the child — a man can be forced to be a father to a child he never wanted and cannot financially support. I even know of cases in which the woman absolves the man of responsibility, only to have the courts demand payment anyway. That takes the notion of "choice" very far from anything resembling equality.
I realize I've just alienated feminists (among whose ranks I generally count myself) as well as pro-lifers, neither of whom are always above platitudes such as "You should have kept your pants on." But that reasoning is by now as reductive as suggesting that a rape victim "asked for it." Yes, people often act irresponsibly and yes, abortion should be avoided whenever possible. But just as women should not be punished for choosing to terminate a pregnancy, men should not be punished when those women choose not to.
Salient points. I wonder if they'll be resolved in my lifetime. There is a cry for justice that must be answered.
Update, 2/11/06: Here's an interesting story. Woman gives baby up for adoption after leaving the state to have the child--tells baby's father (who has Parkinson's Disease) that the baby was stillborn. She told him a year later.