Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Choice of Parenthood

To Mary B who posted a message to the GB Podcast addressed to me:

Concerning the men\'s rights conversation...I came upon a similar conversation not long ago about an op-ed piece of foxnews about men bewailing the fact that they have no say in stopping a woman\'s choice to abort their child.

No, Mary, this isn’t even close to a “similar” conversation. The issue above concerns a man violating a woman’s rights. I’m probably the most pro-choice person on the planet, and support women’s rights with regard to abortion 100%. Neither the state nor the male involved should have any say in what she does with her body. Trying to compare a law that would allow one person to violate another person’s body, with someone saying that both men and women should be treated equally as far as opting in or out of parental rights and obligations under the law, is not a reasonable comparison. Nothing I suggested violated any woman’s right to choose any option that is now legally available to her under our current laws, which are quite generous regarding allowing her to abandon her parental rights and obligations at nearly any point during her pregnancy, and even for some time after the birth. I support fully her right to birth control, abortion, and to give up her child to the state or an adoption agency after the birth. All of those options are, and should be, available to women. And bringing the concept above into the dialog and calling it “similar” is ridiculous.

In your podcast, someone suggested that men, who father a child and don\'t want it (or any of the responsibilities attached) should be allowed to opt-out of their responsibilites by signing a waiver.

Correct, exactly as women are allowed to do once they give birth. Why would you allow women to give up their parental rights and obligations with no questions asked, but then tell men they get no option at all? How is that equitable? She has the option to choose, and I am happy to give her that. She should have it. But I don't see any justification for only granting this option to women. I don’t see how denying that same legal option to men represents equality.

I totally disagree...

I gather. And since you already can’t tell the difference between simple equity versus allowing one person to violate another individual’s rights (as you compare impeding a woman’s right to choose with giving a man equal access to dissolve his parents rights after the birth), I’m not surprised. If I was so confused as to think those two ideas were “similar” I might think it’s fine to discriminate as well.

This is not a conversation that should be had AFTER the woman conceives, but BEFORE.

“This” doesn’t even require a conversation. “This” is about discriminatory laws that grant women rights that every “person” should have, but that men are denied. Nobody should have to talk about this because the laws should be treating the sexes equally in this regard. In today’s society, with discriminatory laws, it’s about the guy’s only recourse, I agree, to see if this woman would be willing to abort; but that assumes as well she won't change her mind if an accident actually occurs--and where is his guarantee then? But "a conversation" doesn’t solve the root problem, which is that nobody should be forced into parental obligations without their willingness to take that on. Would you be willing to change the laws to force women who have babies to keep them whether or not they feel, or are, prepared? Or do you think only women should have that legal right to opt out, and not men? How do you justify that disparity?

Men who are that concerned about having a say about the outcome (and their related responsibilities)

Clarification: This is not about the male being bothered about the “outcome.” Whatever the woman chooses as the outcome is her choice—down the line, by law, as it should be, because it’s her body. It IS about the “related responsibilities," though, which you mention as parenthetical, even though it’s the prime point—again demonstrating you just don’t understand what this conversation is actually about. We either force people—men and women—who produce a baby to stick with it for 18 years, or we allow them—both of them—to opt out. We don’t stick it to one for 18 years with no choice, while we give the other opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to freely choose to give up her “related responsibilities.” I grant her that choice, happily. However, I also believe men should have equality in this regard where you do not.

Again, would you be so quick to say that any woman who has a baby must keep it and raise it as an obligatory parent? Are you consistent and fair in your approach to choice in this matter? Or do you discriminate against men, while you’re happy to let women have the choice to abandon their “related responsibilities”? Why should she get to choose parenthood, while he is forced into it without an option?

should sit down with the gal they are interested in and ask what her stance would be if she were to get pregnant.

No, they “shouldn’t”—because it doesn’t matter. Whether or not they conceive and have a baby together by accident is not the question here. The only question is, once that child is born, is it right to allow women to opt out of parenthood, but not allow men to opt out? How is that justifiable?

Would she want to terminate, have the baby, give it up...? If she is not on the same page as he is, then they should go their seperate ways

If the law were not discriminatory this conversation would only matter to women and anti-choice men. If she wants to keep a baby in the event of an accident, but he won’t pay for the child for 18 years, then the concern is solely hers, not his. The only reason it’s his concern currently is because we have a society that dearly wants to make people, men and women, pay for having sex. ”By god, he’s going to own up to this mistake and do his duty and live up to his responsibility and suck it up for 18 long years!” because that’s what he “should” do. But the mother? Well, if she’d like to opt for adoption, that’s cool. And frankly, that second part IS cool. I’m all for adoption. But I don’t see why you don't think she should “have to” suck it up 18 years for her mistake like you think he does? I assume you are in support of allowing a woman to relinquish parental rights after the child is born? Am I right? But a man has to pay and can’t back out because…?

because regardless of contraceptives, pregnancy happens sometimes.

Right. And when it does, the woman has the choice, and I agree with it, to abort. And if she decides to have the baby she also has a choice to be a parent or to give away parenthood to other people, and I agree with that, too. All she has to do is agree to relinquish her parental rights and sign on the dotted line, and she's not legally responsible for the child any longer. And men can’t do this, because…? It’s an “accident.” And we don’t expect a woman to pay for 18 years for an “accident.” And that's very wise and humane of us. Likewise, why should I turn heartless when the person confronted by this same “accident” is a man? He becomes a vilified demon for wanting to give up the child because he's not ready. She becomes a self-less saint. If a person is not ready for parenthood, s/he should not be legally forced to bear the responsibility of becoming a parent.

This is an important part of the \'sex talk\' that should be included in sex-ed and discussed with both male (and female) children and their parents.

Ultimately, as it is the woman’s body that is impacted until the birth, this is far more her concern. The man, in fact, after conception, does not, and should not, have an ounce of control over the woman's decision. If the man has an anti-choice position, or would want a child if an accident occurred, I can clearly see why it would be a concern for him, as well. But if he’s pro-choice, and doesn’t want a child, why should he be concerned about an accident or what this woman does if an accident occurs? How is her body his business? Unlike FOXNews, I think what she decides do with her body is solely her business, not his. He doesn’t need to be up in her business, because it’s not his business what she does with her body. It’s 100% her business and her body, and due to that, he gets no say. And if he doesn’t care if he gets no say, then it’s not something he should need to worry about. If he’s the sort of guy who wants to control her body—to keep her from having an abortion—then yeah, he needs to have the talk you suggest, because what people do with their own bodies is respected under our laws (at least in theory), and he’s going to have to live with her abortion if that’s what she chooses. But again, she has the right to say she would never abort, but then, confronted with the reality of a pregnancy, she also has the right to change her mind. So the conversation really didn't help him as much as he thought it woulddid it?

The most important missing element is \'communication\' prior to copulation. That would solve a great many problems before they become problems.

I actually studied communication quite a lot in college: Interpersonal, intrapersonal, communication psychology, and so on. And I am pretty good at hearing what people are saying, not hanging up on how they say it. You sound very fair and level, but what you are saying is about as intelligent and fair-minded as telling African-Americans during the pre-Civil Rights era that calling ahead to see if the restaurant serves blacks would solve the problem of them having to deal with discrimination. If they'd just have that "conversation" before going out to eat, the problem would be solved. No. Not even close. The problem is the laws, and it should be fixed at the legislative level, not by asking men to simply do their best to suck it up and learn to negotiate legal discrimination.