Civil Liberties

Should Fathers Have a Right to an Abortion? Or to a Child?


Excellent story in Elle exploring the issues raised when men's and women's views about pregnancy clash in relationships.

The Parent Trap: Paternal Rights and Abortion

What happens when the girlfriend of a recently divorced father of two gets pregnant—and she wants the baby, he doesn't? Should men, too, have the right to choose?

The story follows a late-30s/early-40s couple and is a great exploration of all sides of the issue. Bonus character: Mel Feit, a 1980s' men's right crusader who wore skirts on Phil Donahue.

Feit's list of grievances range from sexist social standards—why should men still be expected to foot the bill on dates? Why is crying or showing weakness verboten for them?—to what he considers discrimination enforced by the state: men's lack of reproductive rights combined with unfair child support laws. "Reproductive choice isn't a fundamental right if it's only limited to people who have internal reproductive systems," Feit says. "If it only applies to women, it's a limited right and that weakens it." In his view, Planned Parenthood's motto—"Every child a wanted child"—should apply to both people who make the baby.

Also in the mix is Dalton Conley, a professor at NYU who wrote an op-ed in the NY Times arguing that men had rights in fetuses: 

Conley, who calls himself a "progressive Libertarian," pledged his allegiance to Roe v. Wade in the first few paragraphs of the piece, he concluded with this barnstormer of a recommendation, one that would gut Roe: "If a father is willing to legally commit to raising a child with no help from the mother, he should be able to obtain an injunction against the abortion of the fetus he helped create."

But it's the two people at the center of the story, both recently split from spouses themselves, who discuss the real-world difficulties and implications of the issue, that carry the story. It's a rare piece on the general topic that doesn't immediately devolve into an ideological sumo-wrestling match.

Read it here.