A few days ago, I wrote about the draft and women being compelled to reproduce as a moral equivalent.
So obviously I’ve been thinking about reproductive rights lately, and specifically, men’s reproductive rights. I don’t think there can be any honest debate about women’s reproductive rights. They must have them, in all circumstances, with no exceptions of any kind.
I came across this article in the Atlantic about a man named Mel Feit, who aligns himself firmly with the Men’s Rights Movement, and unsurprisingly, reproductive rights are a very important topic. While I am a contributor at A Voice for Men, a prominent website in support of men’s rights, I would never claim to speak for the movement, and that is out of sheer ignorance. I simply do not know the issues well enough to claim to represent them.
And I’m working on rectifying that, but keep it in mind when you read this blog.
The current situation is this: when a woman becomes pregnant, she has complete sovereignty to decide if that baby will be born. Yes, life begins at conception. That’s irrelevant. The baby cannot exist without the use of her body, and she has an absolute right to decide if she wants her body used in that way.
To be clear, I don’t think it’s great that women make that choice. Killing your baby because it has Down Syndrome or because it’s the wrong gender or because it’s a twin or for any reason at all is a terrible thing to do. Those people are just awful. People who belong to the Ku Klux Klan are fucking terrible human beings, too. That doesn’t invalidate their basic human rights.
So what rights should men have to decide if a baby is born? None. It’s not their body that will be used to bear the baby, so they have no rights IN THAT REGARD. Men’s reproductive rights do not kick in until AFTER the baby is born.
First of all, men have the right to request a DNA test to prove that the baby is, in fact, their own. DNA testing ought to be mandatory. No exceptions. Men are not held to be responsible for children that are not their own.
Or are they?
In fact, courts around the world have declared a man to be the “father” of a particular child, even if he DID NOT contribute genetic material, if it is in the best interests of the child. Apparently, the best interests of the man are irrelevant.
There is no moral or legal equivalent for a woman. It’s kind of a joke in our house that whenever one of our kids does something particularly clumsy or lunkheaded, I say to my husband, “I want a DNA test. I’m not sure that kid is mine”.
When a pregnancy occurs, a woman has a right to decide whether or not to bring a child into the world. Once the child is born, she has the further right to place the child for adoption and surrender all rights and responsibilities.
Men do not have this right. They are not permitted to surrender their rights and responsibilities for a child they did not intend and do not want. Why is that? Women are allowed to avoid the consequences of sex, but men are not. Men are held to a higher standard of behavior than women are. And how is this fair?
It’s interesting that you don’t hear many feminists screeching for this kind of equality, isn’t it? Women can determine for themselves whether they wish to be mothers. Men do not get that choice. In the legal forum I linked to, a number of commenters say something along the lines of “if you don’t want to pay child support, keep your trousers zipped.”
Isn’t that the same argument pro-lifers use against abortion? If you don’t want to have a baby, don’t have sex.
I’ve argued before that children have an inherent right to know their fathers.
But do they? Children don’t have an inherent right to life. Women make that call. Men ought to have the right to determine whether they will be fathers at all, but they don’t. Only women get to choose. Men CANNOT force women to be mothers, but women CAN force men to be fathers.
Men have no choice. Fatherhood is mandatory. And that’s unacceptable.
Lots of love,