On Psychology

Jewish World Review June 15, 1999 /1 Tamuz, 5759

Dr. Wade Horn

'Male Abortion': A
Fiction to Shirk Responsibility

By Dr. Wade F. Horn

Q: You recently replied to a question on child support, saying, "your stepson chose to have sex with the mother resulting in their making a baby." You are wrong! What about her choice to have sex with him, resulting in her choice, not his, to have a child and keep it?

It should not be the responsibility of a man to assist a woman for her wrong decision. In my opinion, if a woman doesn't want to have a child on her own, she should not have sex.

Nature and the law puts "birth choice" upon the woman, not the man! I do not think that any man should be forced to pay child support -- after all, he didn't say no to an abortion or adoption, she did!

Women need to start dealing with the consequences of their decisions and choices. Men are long overdue the "choice" in parenting. It is time we give men equal rights in choosing whether to be a parent or not.

A: Believe it or not, this letter was sent by a woman. Well, maybe I don't quite believe it myself, but that's how this person signed her/his name anyway.

As for the substance of the letter, what this person is referring to is a concept going around fathers' rights groups called the "male abortion."

Basically, the idea is this: Since only the woman has the legal right to choose an abortion, the decision as to whether or not a child is born is entirely up to the woman. If she chooses to abort her unborn child, then the man does not become a father. If she chooses to bring the child to term, the man becomes a father. All the choices are hers. The man has no choice in the matter.

Econophone To give the man the equivalent of the woman's "choice," some are advocating this thing called a "male abortion." At any time up until the birth of the child, the man would have the option of going to court and relinquishing all paternal rights and responsibilities over the child. For all intents and purposes, he would be saying the child has been "aborted" in his eyes.

If the mom subsequently decides to bring the baby to term, the man would have neither rights nor responsibilities over the child. The court could neither compel child support obligations from, nor enforce any right to a relationship with, the biological father. Rather, the biological father, having declared his "abortion" in court, would become a legal non-entity as far as the child is concerned.

This is loony tunes.

First of all, men already have a choice. Men choose whether or not to have sex with a woman. I don't know what planet this letter writer lives on, but on planet Earth, sex is not something that happens in the dead of night while the man is fast asleep. Sex happens because men want it to happen.

Sure, women want to have sex too, and so bear equal responsibility for the consequences of having chosen to have sex. But if men want a choice as to whether or not they are going to be a parent, they should choose to have sex only after they are married. It really is as simple as that.

Second, and more importantly in my view, introducing the legal fiction of a male abortion will have the effect of increasing the reality of actual abortions. I can hear the conversations now. "If you don't get an abortion, then I will go to court and you'll never be able to get a dime out of me!" Anybody want to argue that these conversations will not take place? Or that these conversations won't prove a boon to the abortion industry?

There is an innocent here. And it is not the man. Nor is it the woman. It is the child. I simply can not understand why some want innocent children to pay the ultimate price for the sexual irresponsibility of adults.

I do not want to appear too glib here. I understand that non-custodial fathers are often treated by the courts as if they were nothing more than cash machines, and pit one parent against the other in a never ending battle where everyone loses, most especially the child. We do have to do a better job in cases of divorce and out-of-wedlock births to ensure that children grow up with the active involvement, emotionally as well as financially, of both a mom and a dad.

But introducing the notion of a male abortion will not help matters; it would only serve to reinforce the all too prevalent focus in today's world on what's good for the parent, rather than on what's good for the child.

So, sorry. I stand by my earlier column. Men do have a choice. And so do women. As such, both bear responsibility if their choice to have sex results in a child. Let's stop making children suffer for the choices that adults make.

JWR contributor Dr. Wade F. Horn is President of the National Fatherhood Initiative and co-author of The Better Homes and Gardens New Father Book. Send your question about dads, children or fatherhood to him C/O JWR


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© 1998, Dr. Wade F. Horn