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We Abort Fathers
February 18, 2004
by K. C. Wilson

In our rush from central authority over abortions to individual choice, we seem to have missed an issue or two, and options that might satisfy more people.

The media thoughtfully presents us with only two positions: no abortions ever or abortion on a whim. An important social issue is covered like a football game: which side's ahead by how much?

Most people are equally uncomfortable with both mindless extremes, so I'd like to raise one small, over-looked matter to offer an option that may bridge some of the gaps.

For hundreds of years, women lived under the threat of "ta heck with the mother, save the child" in any pregnancy. This one, universal rule was applied irrespective of rape or the mother's survival. (Interestingly, feminists today call this valuing of children over women a patriarchic tyranny -- as though exclusively men's idea -- while insisting that men don't care as much about children as women do. But that's another story.)

I can accept declaring abortion an individual choice. (Though I confess I can equally accept some arguments for societal regulation). The unspoken problem is, if individual choice, which individual's? That hinges upon, who is pregnant; who's child and life are at stake?

"A woman's body, a woman's choice," declares the fetus the woman's body, not its own nor even partly somebody else's. If only women have children, how can they expect anything from men as a consequence of a choice that is only theirs? If only women decide whether any child exists, that certainly makes it only hers. To then suddenly declare it also his when she wants money for it is not human rights, but some very strange privilege. Women no longer have to face the consequences of their behavior; men do.

One gender has hijacked human reproduction. External tyranny over women is replaced with a female one over men and men's lives and bodies.

Today, we are persecuting hundreds of thousands of men as deadbeat dads who not only did not have the same choice over whether they became parents as have women, but because someone else's choice has been forced upon them. How did women get this much power over somebody else's life? If it is wrong for women to be subjected to someone else's choice, how is it right to do it to others?

How did we create such an obvious distortion? How did men allow it to happen?

The mechanics of birth (that women carry and nurse a child) should not be confused with what and whose it is. If men carried and nursed it, would the mother disavow it? Would it no longer be as much hers? Why expect men to when women carry it?

There are two possible solutions. If women can opt out of pregnancy irrespective of his wishes, men should be able to, too. But that just makes the parents equally able to duck. There is still no accountability to the natural consequence of their equal behavior: the child. Who speaks for it?

The second option is to declare that, for adult consensual sex, a couple gets pregnant, not a woman. The child is the result of two people's equal choices and behaviors, and accountability belongs where it naturally occurs: to each other. You already controlled your bodies (that's how you got pregnant), and gave your consent to him / her as the possible other parent by having sex with them. (Not to shock anyone, but that's where babies come from.) You are equally beholden to each other for the consequences, and unless the mother's life is directly threatened, the child's life hinges on the consideration of both, equally. Not one.

Surely the unborn is at least entitled to the equal consideration of both its parents.

Copyright © 2004 K.C.Wilson. K.C. Wilson writes a weekly column for MenStuff.org and is author of several books on family and social issues, including Co-prenting for Everyone and Where's Daddy. See his e-books at http://wheres-daddy.com.

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