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"Choice for Men?"

By Scott Tibbs, March 30, 2002

Deadbeat dads are on the march, and they want the law to favor their irresponsibility.

Twenty-nine years after Roe v. Wade legalized the killing of unborn children as a "choice" for women, another "choice" movement is beginning to get more press as men seek to have the same choice to not be a parent that a woman has now if she chooses to have an abortion.

"Choice for Men", or C4M, supporters argue that it is fundamentally unfair that women have the choice to terminate a pregnancy, and therefore choose not to be a parent, while men have no such choice. If a woman decides to give birth and parent her child, the biological father is then required to support the child he fathered financially, through child support payments.

They argue that "unplanned fatherhood" can have the same negative effects on a man's life that it can for women, such as lost educational and employment opportunities, lost wealth, mental and emotional harm, and increased stress that can lead to physical problems. C4M advocates also often bring out sob stories of men tricked into parenthood by women who lied about using contraception.

Not surprisingly, the actual child the "C4M" advocates want to legally abandon is lost in this whole debate. A child born to a single mother, with no financial support from his father, is more likely to live in poverty his entire life and have greatly diminished opportunities. And while supporters of legalized abortion may argue that a fetus is not a person and does not have the moral rights that come with personhood, there is no question (to people other than Peter Singer) that a child is a person after birth and does have rights.

In reality, "choice for men" already exists. Men can freely choose not to have sexual intercourse, which is the only 100% way of avoiding unwanted fatherhood. C4M advocates may argue that they only consented to sex, not fatherhood, and use of contraception proves that lack of consent. But when a man consents to sex, he is willingly accepting the possibility of fatherhood. A man may attempt to reduce the odds of that occurrence, but since no birth control is 100% effective, he is still taking a risk in order to have the pleasure he desires. Whether a man wanted to be a father or not, there is implied consent in allowing for the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.

C4M advocates argue that if a woman is dishonest and tricks a man into fatherhood, that he should be able to avoid his parental responsibilities. But implied consent exists here also, as a man takes a greater risk of unplanned parenthood than women in that he must take a calculated risk that his partner will not miss her birth control doses as a result of being dishonest or forgetful.

He decides that the risk of her dishonesty, no matter how small in his mind, was worth it to have the pleasure of sex. Perhaps men "victimized" by women who intentionally try to conceive should choose their partners more carefully so as to avoid this problem in the first place. It is wrong for a woman to intentionally deceive a man into fatherhood, but once pregnancy takes place there is a third person to be considered, and that person should not be punished and deprived of his father's support because of his mother's dishonesty.

In addition, C4M supporters argue that it is "unfair" for a man to be forced to financially support a child he did not want and to be forced to give up his wealth because of it. But the inherent unfairness of the alternative is far worse. Is it fair to force all of society to pay for a man's implied consent to fatherhood through increased taxation to support the child he created? Joe Citizen is not responsible for creating a new life and should not have money confiscated from his paycheck for that choice. It is far fairer to force the father to pay for his choice than for all taxpayers to be forced to pay for a choice they were never involved in.

"Choice for men" is just more evidence of the instant gratification society we live in. People demand what they want when they want it, and they also demand not to face the consequences of it. But America's children deserve far more than to be abandoned so a "father" can "get on with his life" like nothing ever happened. Is there no end to the lack of responsibility exhibited by today's society? If "Choice for Men" ever becomes law, the answer is "no."