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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Monday, March 20, 2006

Paternal Abortion

Twenty five year old computer programmer Matt Dubay has been ordered to pay about $500 per month for child support for his seven month daughter. He claims the child's mother lied to him about being infertile and/or on birth control. (See here.)

His legal argument is rather ingenious. He is claiming a constitutional violation of the equal protection clause. That is, we as a society are wholly unwilling to say to women "if you don't want to deal with the responsibilities of having a child, don't have sex" but that is precisely what we say to men. A man has basically zero choices to make after a child is conceived. Whether the child is aborted is a decision given entirely to the mother. If the mother chooses to allow the child to born, she may choose to keep the child and the father is usually given no legal choice but to pay whatever a court determines he should pay. (I write "usually" because I believe after the baby is born, the father could sue for custody, and if he wins, the mother could be forced to pay child support to him. Nevertheless, the presumption is that the baby goes home with the mother automatically. The father gets custody only after an extraordinary intervention by a court.)

So again. I'm against abortion. I'm perfectly ok with society saying to both sexes (to put it bluntly) "You have choice. Don't have sex." But is it a violation of the equal protection clause to say this to men only?

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Pencil is right in that the abortion laws do not treat men equally.

But for the sake of argument, the court needs to deal with a child that "is." Even here, the courts are sometimes biased toward women, but certainly not always. There is a trend among a few judges to award equal parenting time to fathers, even if the father is employed full time and the mother is a full time parent, provided the father asks for equal time and is willing to harrass the mother through extensive, expensive litigation over a long period of time, to the point of liquidation of all assets if necessary. This is a crazy attempt to "equalize" the sexes, has thrown the baby out with the bathwater (not entirely figuratively) and is unfortunately on the rise. But I've gone off on a tangent.

There are two solutions to the problem Pencil presents: 1) no one has a right to kill a kid and should either not have sex or take extreme precautions with birth control, or 2) allow the sperm donor to also elect for abortion. There are obvious problems with forcing the mother to undergo the abortion procedure against her will, but beyond the first solution, that's the only other option for pure equity.

4:06 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

What about giving the plaintiff what he asks for? - the right to simply walk away. I understand that this isn't good for the child, but then again, neither is letting the mother kill him. But if we delve into that moral netherworld of only considering what's fair to the adults and to hell with the children, then I don't see what's unfair about this.

4:50 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

In this case, you would think that would be an answer.

Unfortunately, that opens the door for a lot of fathers, wanting to leave a marriage for the sole purpose of dating other women or such, who would agree to do exactly that, divorce their children, to not pay child support. And there will be mothers, with however many children intentionally fathered by this guy, who will be stuck with nothing with which to support those children.

How could such a law be written to protect such mothers and the children who will go without because their father has other interests? Would the father need to file a "Wish to Abort" within the first three months of pregnancy or some such thing?

6:25 PM, March 20, 2006  

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