From the New York Times:
‘If you play, you must pay. But if you pay, you should get some say. If a father is willing to legally commit to supporting and raising the child himself, why should a woman be able to end a pregnancy that she knew was a possibility of consensual sex? Why couldn’t I make the same claim – that I am going to keep the baby regardless of whether she wants it or not?
…while such issues may be complicated, so is family life. Better to deal with the metaphorical dirty diapers than to pursue an inconsistent policy toward fatherhood and an abortion debate that doesn’t acknowledge the reality of all actors involved. Otherwise, don’t expect anything more of me than a few million sperm.’
In the case of abortion, fathers are generally overlooked, or assumed to be absent. What of the men who don’t know they’ve become fathers? The fathers who could be – want to be – if given the chance. With this issue we err on the side of neglect, of dead-beat dads, of abusive and uninvolved men. These are not most men.
If we assume that most men don’t want children, or that they’ll bolt at the first sign of booties, and we allow our legal system to reflect that opinion, how can we expect men to behave differently? If we tell fathers that their only responsibilty toward their children is financial, or that their involvement begins only after a child is born, is it any wonder men see faterhood as a burden? We tell men that they aren’t wanted, aren’t needed, and then condemn them when they leave.
A few weeks into our pregnancy, my wife and I were in the hospital, waiting to learn whether we still had a child. The physician’s assistant off-handedly said that my wife ‘may have miscarried’, and handed us a pamphlet about miscarriges. At that moment, if anyone had told me that I had any less of a role in my child’s life than did my wife – that my involvement was limited to my wallet – I would have punched them in the face. And I don’t know that I could have stopped.
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