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.

NEXT: Charles Murray on Ayn Rand

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  1. I remember seeing scumbag lawyer extrordinare Gloria Allred talking about this and true to form her response was “its 100% a womans chice”. Normally I would agree with that but she also went on to say that regardless of the fathers decision he would have to pay child support as well.

    People like Allred are rather consistent with their inconsistent application of equal treatement.

    1. blah blah blah

    2. blah, blah, blah

    3. If a man isn’t willing to accept all the possible consequences of sex, then he shouldn’t be having any. If you knock someone up, and she decides to keep the baby, then it’s your obligation to help raise it, whether you like it or not. Rights come with responsibilities, deal with it.

      1. Rights come with responsibilities, deal with it.

        The woman has the sole right to determine whether she keeps the baby. She should have the sole responsibility of raising it in the absence of an agreement otherwise.

      2. “If a woman isn’t willing to accept all the possible consequences of sex, then she shouldn’t be having any. If you get knocked up, and he/she decides to be alive, then it’s your obligation to help raise it, whether you like it or not. Rights come with responsibilities, deal with it.”

      3. What right are you referring to?

  2. An abortion thread, eh? I expect a series of well thought out and civil discussions to break out at any time.

  3. Release the rape jokes!

    1. She has the face of an insect.

      1. That was for guy in the back row, BTW, not cent guy.

        1. hmm, now that you mention it, she kind of does. I hadn’t looked up that far.

  4. Hey, the young lady on the sidebar ad seems to have survived Roe vs Wade!

    Or at least that’s what her shirt proclaims.

    1. Ha ha! You dont have ad block.

      1. you wouldn’t be saying that if you saw this girl!

        1. It’s a toss up between the pretty girls on the t-shirt ads, and the Mandroid selling blue robes.

  5. Women scream for equality but when you start talking about mens paternal rights they are having none of it.

  6. Given the subject, I find the sudden appearence of an ad for “men’s silk robe” at the sidebar both creepy and distressing.

  7. It’s the woman’s choice, but if the father says “I want an abortion” in some sort of magical legal way, he shouldn’t have to pay child support. I really don’t see why this is complicated. Other than ideological sumo-wrestling.

    1. Because then you introduce the situation where a scumbag guy gets a girl knocked up and suffers no repercussions for it. Screw that, if he doesn’t want kids he should get his testes clipped. Anything short of that and he’s on the hook for any unwanted babies.

      1. And now you have the situation where some whore can get herself knocked up, and keep the guy on the hook for it, even if he does not want it.

        If she doesn’t want kids, she should have her tubes tied. Anything short of that, and she is on the hook for unwanted babies.

        1. And now you want to have the situation where some man-whore can get a girl knocked up, and keep her on the hook for it, even if she does not want it.

          If he doesn’t want kids, he should have his tube sliced. Anything short of that, and he is on the hook for unwanted babies.

      2. today, you are just CaptainSmart

  8. Unfortunately it was not until I was out of the grip of “liberating” education that I began to consider these issues. College women’s studies and social justice classes seldom, if ever, address paternal rights, nor does the MSM.

    I’m glad to see that this issue is getting attention and rational (to be hoped) discussion. Perhaps if women were taught that men have rights, too, w/r/t unborn children, they would choose to exercise more caution when engaging in sexual activity.

    Imagine her shock when she goes into a clinic and needs not parental permission (if under whatever age barrier parental notification states have set), but permission of the baby’s father to have the procedure done. It could dramatically change the course of abortion legislation.

    Here is where it gets sticky for me: a man wants the baby and the woman does not, but he successfully gets the abortion blocked and agrees to raise the child alone. Now he has committed an unwilling person to 9 months of restricted living circumstances (if she’s health conscious about the unborn child) and the process of labor and delivery of something she didn’t want in the first place. And what about the father’s right to a healthy child? What’s to stop the woman from taking measures like excessive alcohol/drug consumption, unsafe sex (which can lead to fetal infection with HIV, syphilis, HPV or others), radiation exposure, or a diet high in mercury just to stick it to the father who made her carry the child to term?

    What about the lack of ability to make iron-clad paternal abdication a possibility? What possible legal actions could be taken to make sure a man who did not want the child never, ever be sought to provide child support 3 or 5 or 10 years down the line?

    Can of worms.

    1. “They” means both partners – should have made that more clear. I would not want to appear to be implying that only women have responsibility when it comes to birth control.

    2. I’d say that the nature of the issue excludes the position of forcing a woman to have a baby she doesn’t want but the father does.

      However, the father should be able to say “I’m out” (no pun intended) and forfeit all claims related to the kid (no visitation, no inheritance, no child support) and then the woman can exercise her “100% choice” whether to have the baby or abort knowing that she is “100% responsible” for the consequences of that choice.

    3. +100 Madbiker. You posted every concern re: this issue that I initially thought, sans profanity. Well done.

      I’d just like to add this is the fallout of a SCOTUS decision that snever should have graced the desk to begin with.

      It appears that women, like Gloria Allred, are totally disingenuous when they proclaim “We want government out of our bodies,” when the converse, they want Uncle Daddy Sugar nestled firmly and comfortably in the uterus to legitimize and pay for poor decisions at the behest of the state, is all too apparent. To purposefully deny the father rights in exchange for Uncle Sugar as the daddy, except when hitting up the biological father for child support, to me, is unconscionable. Is it any waonder that now ~60% of teenage girls think being a “single mom” is perfectly acceptable? (I hate the social definition of “single mom”; I believe if you are truly a “single mom” it is you raising the child on your own with your own resources. Even an extended family network providing support is, by definition, a daddy substitute).

      I’d better stop because I feel a rant brewing…

      Disclosure: I believe life begins at conception.

      1. This is one of those times when registration and profiles would be useful. Just keep my opinions on abortion there, without having to type them out every time to have a conversation on the subject with taking past each other.

        And I agree with MB and GM.

      2. I believe life began several billion years ago when the first cells started dividing and that that is the only meaningful definition of the beginning of life.

      3. “Is it any waonder that now ~60% of teenage girls think being a “single mom” is perfectly acceptable?”

        Side note: one of my students did a research paper and video presentation of it on the media glorification of teen motherhood. I am aware of pop culture but don’t pay too much attention to. She opened my eyes up to shows like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.” She used clips from each show in her video – shocking. Although each show demurs that there is a “down side” to being a young mom, they downplay those side effects and show girls still able to live it up, flirt, shop, and party while raising a kid.

        I’m not a big blame-the-media type when it comes to responsibility for social ills, but I do wonder what effect this type of entertainment has on young girls/guys who see babies as “no big deal.”

        My student pointed out that some religious groups support these shows because it encourages young girls who have made the shameful decision to have sex to make the choice for life instead of abortion. Fur reelz.

    4. With regards to the losses to the mother due to committing her to carrying the child to term, shouldn’t that be fixable via some form of tort suit for lost wages, medical bills, and some amount corresponding to the pain, suffering, and inconvenience of preganancy and childbirth?

      1. And if the father is some dopey deadbeat whose reasonable financial expectancy is nil? Throw him jail if he decides, “Fuck this, I’m tired of having my wages garnished!” How will he pay for the kid now? Either way, we will get stuck with the bill.

        1. I think it would be reasonable to require a significant payment at the beginning as a prerequisite for requiring the mother to carry the child to term, probably calculating it at an expected loss of income to the mother.

          It seems that if structured properly that ought to ensure that only those men with the true financial resources to pursue such action would do so.

          1. So are you suggesting that men should only have sex when they are financially able to support a child? A mortgage application for sex? Since children are having sex these days and having kids themselves, should contract and liability law extend to them?

            1. Next step? Medically supervised sex.

            2. Discounted relative to probable risk of conception, yeah, they shouldn’t have sex unless they can afford the obligations (although I’m with SugarFree on revising the current law to add more balance and allow men to abandon the claim much as women can, absolving themselves of liability in exchange for forfeiting the right to have any influence on the child’s upbringing).

              I wouldn’t say mortgages, but insurance against unintentional conception might not be a bad idea.

              As for kids, I would assume standard tort law treatment of minors would apply the same way.

              1. Doubt it would, as sex would likely be seen as a form of implied contract and minors are unable to enter into contracts. In that case the burden might be shifted to the parents of the child in question. As it stands now, you are culpable in a civil action for the acts of your child.

              2. I agree with the above statement 100%

      2. What’s it worth to you for the government to abrogate your right to self-ownership for 9 months? Can we beat, maim and imprison you at will as long as we pay for it afterward?

        1. That’s apples and oranges, or at the very least apples and something-sorta-like-but -not-actually-apples.

          If we’re accepting self-ownership as the operating premise for human rights, then I imagine it’s safe to say we’re also accepting some version of Locke’s labor-mixing ideas as well.

          I imagine it’s also fair to say that parents have some form of ownership claim over their child as they are the ones who are able to make decisions concerning the child’s upbringing, education (insofar as govt allows it), etc. until it is legally old enough to do that on its own.

          Pulling those two together then, it seems credible to me to suggest that since both partners shared an equal role in the creation of the child then they share the property claim in the child to an equal degree. Not allowing the father to have some say in the abortion decision is therefore a theft of his property claim. The payment doesn’t justify the action, the property claim does and monetary payment simply seems to be the most efficient way of reconciling two competing property claims.

          On the other hand, there is no similar basis for action in your “beat, maim and imprison” comparison. If the government does that, it damn well better pay me for it, but in this case the payment is to correct for the wrong, not to efficiently settle a competing property rights claim.

          1. I reject the notion that the father is doing anything near 50% of the labor. He drops of half a blueprint and willingly leaves it with the mother. She completes the blueprint and then does all the work of building the house. If he funds none of the building materials, then he doesn’t own anything. That’s the labor mixing going on. People don’t reproduce by mitosis. His DNA is only worth anything else you wipe of your chest with a tube sock every morning before you get in the shower. And perfectly valid systems to prevent giving your half of the blueprint away exist.

            Actually, if the government beats, maims, or imprisons me for its own ends, I expect to be paid. I also expect someone who made the decisions to go to jail.

            If a voluntary compensation arrangement for bringing the child to term and then transferring it to the father is made, I have no problem with it. But when it’s dictated by law and backed up with governmental force, you’ve talking about using the color of government to make someone your fractional slave.

            1. I reject the notion that the father is doing anything near 50% of the labor. He drops of half a blueprint and willingly leaves it with the mother. She completes the blueprint and then does all the work of building the house. If he funds none of the building materials, then he doesn’t own anything.

              Agreed Saccharin Man. However, legislation like this entitles the woman to have it both ways, at her discretion, at will. That, in regards to this legislation, is my main objection. When the mother, regardless of the condition of the house here, says “Guess what, that nail you thrust in the house entitles me to your stuff, whenever I want.” Regardless of how long the nailgun has been away from the house.

              1. I think my take on the matter handles both ends of the problem. He is entitled to support the child only the extent he helped create it. If he supports the mother through pregnancy–food, hospital bills, housing, etc.–then I think he’s on the hook for some level of support. She continued the pregnancy on the assumption that he was committed to be involved.

                A one night stand, especially if a good faith attempt at contraception was performed, obligates him to almost nothing. Maybe $10.

                1. Except there is still a discrepancy.

                  The mother is free to unilaterally maintain or cast away her claim.

                  The father on the other hand is only freed to unilaterally cast away his claim. He can only maintain his claim if the mother also chooses to maintain hers.

                  Maybe the imbalance is warranted, but it’s hardly accurate to say it handles both ends of the problem when it maintains a discrepancy in claim enforcement.

                  1. I answer this below.

                2. There was a case (I thought it was in Jersey but not certain) where a woman saved the outcome of oral sex to inseminate herself, and then successfully sued the recipient of her blow job for paternity, child support, and back payments for her medical expenses during the pregnancy.


                  It’s like a Dali painting, only far less lucid.

            2. I never said he did 50% of the labor to bring the child to term, but in contributing 50% of the necessary genetic materials in a consensual pairing, he has clearly played a key and necessary role in the creation of the child, most definitely enough to have a property claim. Is it a precise 50% split of inputs, obviously not. But there is clearly some degree of standing for a claim and to completely do away with legal recourse for the father to exercise that claim is to rob him of that claim without offering any recompense.

              Furthermore, plenty of tort law emerged out of the common law tradition and wasn’t the creation of government dictate. I’m pretty sure that all would be needed would be to remove government dictates holding that fathers have no legal claim to their children until they are born and then courts can sort out the competing claims and appropriate ways to rectify them.

              1. Nothing but blueprints, and only half a blueprint at that. Left on it’s own, sperm does nothing.

                But he should be compensated for his half-blueprint, of course. What’s a deposit of semen worth on the open market? $50 at a sperm bank?

                And the notion of a parental property claim on a child is not in anyway in the spirit of natural law. If the child has any self-ownership rights at all (which is day one if you ascribe to “at conception” ideas) then you can no more assert a property claim on him or her than you could on me or anyone else on the board.

                1. I think it’s fair to say it’s in keeping with natural law.

                  If children were considered to have full-ownership of themselves than they would be recognized as legal adults, with all the legal rights, privileges, and obligations that carries from the moment of conception onward.

                  As far as I know, no one subscribes to that idea.

                  A property rights claim isn’t necessarily a unified whole. You can untie the bundle of sticks and remove some of them.

                  In the case of children, they don’t hold the full bundle of property rights in themselves. Some portion of the whole is held in trust by their parents, a point defensible both from a legal perspective and I would think a natural law perspective.

                  1. ownership != adulthood

                    Two separate concepts, no need to be mixed or considered at same time at all. A person owns themselves from the start of life (not going there). There are parental responsibilities that are not a result of ownership, because the parents dont own their kids.

                    1. The definition of self-ownership is that you are the one who makes the decisions about how your life is lived, insofar as the decisions violate no one else’s rights.

                      If I told you there was an adult who’s education, diet, garments, living quarters, etc. were controlled by another person it would be called a slave, by definition someone who doesn’t own himself or herself.

                      However, every single one of those factors is also true for children. How is that squared with the idea that children have an absolute property right in themselves rather than a limited property right with the remainder portions held in trust by their parents?

  9. Before you dip the stick and drop the seed you better know your partners views on abortion and or raising children. It can save you a lot of heartache and money. Men will always be on the losing end.

    1. “Men will always be on the losing end.”

      Riiight. Men never make promises they can’t keep. It’s all us baby killin’ bitches.

      You were right up until whining about the poor oppressed menfolk.

      1. Men and women both lie, that’s not the issue here.

        Can you think of applicable situation in which man will benefit using the current legal precedent?

      2. I agree with JEP – men and women can BOTH be liars, and that’s not the issue here. You’re missing the point.

    2. The problem is under the current law it doesn’t matter if you know each other’s views, or even have an agreement to get an abortion beforehand. The woman can simply change her mind, and the man has to pay.

      100 years ago, that was acceptable, since the woman didn’t have options.

      Even in surrogate “motherhood” there is the same principle: the woman carrying the baby can simply change her mind, and most states will side with her.

      Really it is insulting to women, it is treating them like children who are not expected to be able to enter or keep contracts.

  10. Also, I really hate those “Conservative T-Shirts” ads with stupid shirts Photoshopped onto women. It makes me feel awkward reading Reason at work. Admittedly, work is my grad student desk at Rice, but still.

    1. Adblockplus will fix that.

      1. Will Adcockblockplus lead to fewer pregnancies?

        1. Logically, it must.

      2. Likely not an option when using a university computer.

  11. Don’t be a dummy finish on her tummy.

  12. The ability for fathers to abdicate parental responsibility will lead to more abortions.

    1. Possibly SF. Again, the “single mom” thing I posted earlier is en vogue. With the government paying for them, you betcha.

      Anecdote: I recently talked to a former dating relation and she had a kid out of wedlock by her ohoice; I didn’t agree (I’m not the father BTW, just to clarify) but ultimately, the decision was hers and she is financially stable and a family and friend network functions as daddy. She does not refer to herself a “single mom.” What I found most disconcerting was she never told the father about the pregnancy. Wasn’t a bad guy, abusive or a deadbeat, she said, she just didn’t want him around and didn’t want his financial support and didn’t want him to have any contact with the child. Am I wrong for thinking that was incredibly selfish of her?

      1. Not necessarily. If there were no other father figures around, then yes, it was selfish. But if there’s someone else willing and able to act as a male role model for the child then I say, no harm, no foul.

        It’s not like the guy’s life is any worse off for not knowing he has a kid. All it would do to everyone is introduce the possibility of drama, and how would that help anyone?

        1. I guess it depends on the guy, but if a girl I was with at one point had a kid and didn’t tell, I’d probably be a little distraught about it. Even if she doesn’t want me around, I should still have a say in how my kid is raised, etc.

      2. I won’t say “wrong” but I have little problem with it. Paternity is maybe 0.000001% of the labor involved in creating a child. You come over and hammer a single nail in while I’m building my house doesn’t make you 50% co-owner.

        It’s certainly less immoral by an order of magnitude than telling him, demanding money, and then severely restricting his involvement (if he wants to be involved).

        As for more abortions, it’s logical to think that there is a middle ground in abortion consideration where the knowledge that you will have to rely only on yourself or the state to support you continuing a pregnancy to term tips women into coming down on the “have the abortion” side.

        1. Which is why Bill Clinton should have never made the “Safe, legal and rare,” remark. Please define “rare” (and not the temperature of a steak either, you smart-alecks 🙂

          1. Rare abortion: Resulting from a failure of contraception and not the failure to use contraception at all. When the health of the mother is in danger before viability. Rape. (Incest is a form of rape.)

            1. Excellent SF. Now, the definition you used accounts for ~5% of the abortions performed. The one I have performed in my career (in residency) was an elective one, and rare did not apply.

              1. I was only describing the term. I made no claim on it’s prevalence. Elective abortion before viability is the worst form of contraception in terms of risk, work, and price.

                1. Fair enough, and medically speaking, you are 100% correct, my friend.

  13. Even as a person with a fairly strong religious background, I still have a few unsettled issues with abortion.

    It seems the best argument that I’ve heard out of the pro-choice people is that a fetus is nothing more than a growth in a woman’s uterus. It seems illogical then to be so concerned with a mother’s diet, radiation exposure, etc when it’s only going to be impacting a cancerous growth.

    Furthermore, if a biopsy were to be done on that growth and the DNA examined, the DNA would be human.

    Anyway, long story short. My personal position, until I can justify a better one, is that life begins at conception, rape should be punishable by death, and abortion should be used as a medical procedure when a decision must be made between the life of the mother and the life of the child – and that decision should be made by the mother and father.

    1. If rape were punishable by death there’d be no incentive for the rapist not to kill the victim.

      1. In fact there would be a strong incentive to leave no witnesses…

      2. I hadn’t thought of that before. My reasoning was that if murder is removing a life from the world before it’s time, then rape is very close to bringing a life into the world before it’s time.

        That’s a good point though.

      3. Maybe with the option of being punishable by death. Life imprisonment and/or castration might also be good choices.

    2. There really can’t be much argument regarding whether human life begins at conception. Even at the earliest stages, a fetus is still a distinct specimen of homo sapiens sapiens. The real question here is the point at which the human gains “personhood” and the inherent rights that go along with it. I, for one, have a hard time swallowing any argument that a human’s right to life is contingent upon his/her age…

  14. I’d like to think that if the injustice of forced child support went away, so would the talk of forcing women to carry pregnancies to term, or of forcing them to abort. You can’t fix an ugly and coercive situation by adding more ugliness and coercion.

    1. It won’t go away because it will not address the opinions of those who believe life-at-conception creates self-ownership rights.

      1. Which I do, SF. As you know, I am big fan of Natural Law. One of the things that Natural Law does not reconcile here is rights are inherent in the individual but are subject to the ability of the individual to be able to defend them. A fetus depends on the mother to defend those rights to self-determination.

        1. I am not unsympathetic to that position, but if the child is unwanted then one of the few instances where properly applied negative rights conflict between two individuals. It’s messy, but I’m for unrestricted abortion until viability. (And true viability, not 20K in life support per day viability.)

          1. Well, like the old joke “we know what kind of woman you are, we’re just negotiating price” why isn’t $20K a day viability “true” viability? Does it become “true” viability when technology reduces the cost to $1K a day? $500?

            Is a full-term baby with medical complications that take $20K a day to handle “viable?”

            It seems to be that viability is a question of knowledge and technology rather than individuality as it relates to natural law. If “brain death” can tell us when a life ends (although, I suppose, there is no unanimity there) then maybe “brain life” can tell us when one begins and a second individual has entered the picture.

            1. True viability means that it could live on it’s own or with a minimal amount of medical supervision.

              A full-term baby is a full-term baby. Don’t pretend you can’t understand the difference between a 16 week fetus and a born child.

              And brain-life is as squishy as viability is you want to break it down. It’s it when the first synapse fires? When autonomic functions are performed? Conscious thought? The recognition of self? Simple math?

              1. I hate pull doctor card here SF, but this is another fundamental disagreement here. Applying this standard of viability would allow me to off a lot of people on life support with the reasonable (albeit expensive) expectation of recovering and living a productive life.

                1. Correction “…who have the reasonable…”

                2. The life support argument is invalid. If the only way to keep someone on life support is to hook them up to an unwilling person for 9 months to share circulation, waste, and nutrition, the life support patient is out of luck. You cannot fractionally enslave someone to save your own life.

                  1. Not invalid if there is a contract between two people willing to enter into a contract to save a life. Like giving up a kidney or bone marrow. Granted they are not on the level of someone on life support, but the premise applies.

                    The fetus, by nature of being in the womb, cannot argue for its rights and is dependent on a custodian. How can we wait for for consent from a being that is not born yet, but after a few years could argue one way or the other to be snuffed? (BTW Dan T., you sniveling little prick, is a real Catch-22).

                    I agree with you that one cannot enslave another to do one’s bidding. The logic is consistent, but doe snot address what the fetus’ interests are, and one who believes life begins at conception, would be consistent with my beliefs.

                  2. Enslavement is a rare occurence (going back up to your definition). Most of the time its voluntary. Even with birth control there is a chance of pregnancy, so the mother volunteered for the possibility.

                    1. Continuous consent is a necessary component to informed consent.

                      Imagine the nightmare scenarios possible if consenting to anything also means consenting to it perpetuity. Consenting to a kiss is the same as consenting to sex? agreeing to go on a date? talking with a stranger in a bar? At what point is sex consented to except at the point that sex is going to occur?

                      She consents to sex, not motherhood. Especially if contraception is used in good faith.

                  3. Maybe in the case of rape the life support argument is pretty week, but absent rape not so much. If the pregnant woman was not raped than her action created the situation of dependence.

                3. We may end up having to do that if the health care reform leads to its inevitable conclusion, Groovus.

                  1. We may end up having to do that if the health care reform leads to its inevitable conclusion, Groovus.

                    But we had to pass it to find out…[insert profane rant].

              2. Again, minimal medical supervision is a function of technology, not individuality. Is minimal medical supervision today the same as it was 20 or 200 or 2000 years ago?

                I understand the difference between a full-term baby and a 16-week fetus, I’m just not clear on why $20K a day to keep one alive is acceptable but it isn’t for the other.

                Brain-life may be just as squishy, but at least it is predicated on the state of the individual not the state of medical technology, per se.

                Personally, I’d say the line would be when higher brain/non-brain-stem functionality begins, but I could be persuaded otherwise by those more knowledgeable about fetal brain development.

              3. Simple math?

                Algebra. Duh.

      2. And that’s when the whole mess tends to dissolve into “you hate women”/”you hate babies” nonsense. As far as I’m concerned, a compromise along the lines of: hey, as long as you can’t demand the use of my body as incubator-at-gunpoint (or force an unwanted medical procedure on me), I can’t go after you for cash or responsibility. Not perfect, but significantly less worse.


      1. Jr., you’re a darling little miscreant. I’m only glad there was nothing for you to rape in utero.

  15. I’ve thought of this before, how father’s should have some say so in what happens to the fetus-after all, they will be forced to pay child support for a child they didn’t want to have, possibly with woman who they may never want to have anything to do with. On the flip side, the guy shouldn’t be telling the woman what the hell to do, if another option is considered….bleh. Such a complicated issue; there is not singular ‘right’ answer.

  16. Forcing birth is slavery for nine months. Forcing child support is slavery for 18 years. Get rid of both. Men should not be able to force women to carry a child or have an abortion, neither parent should be able to force the other to pay child support.

    1. How fortunate for you that you can argue for this since you yourself escaped the prison of the womb.

      Agreed with the position on child support.

      1. Actually, I am opposed to abortions. However, with abortion legal, child support laws should be changed as well.

  17. I know it can’t last, but I do want it on the record that I appreciate having a measured and rational debate about abortion. They happen, but are few and far between.

    1. SF, I am convinced you are my brother from another mother. We have a fundamental disagreement here, but I still am proud you are my Jedi Master 🙂

    2. I’ve never stepped into the fray, but I’ve always found the discussions of abortion on this blog to be the most civil and thoughtful I’ve ever witnessed (with a few exceptions).

      1. It used to be much, much worse.

        1. Agreed. Mad Max would start off strong and quickly devolve into a vicious little twat.

          1. civil and thoughtful and irrelevant

            1. We are libertarians, we are use to it.

            2. If there is a more vital conversation to have on a libertarian/anarcho-capitalist board than defining and understanding self-ownership principles, I’d like to hear what it is.

  18. wear a condom. flush it.

  19. Forcing a woman to have an abortion and forcing a woman to bear a child both seem quite unacceptable to me. Men shouldn’t have a right to choose either way about abortion, but they also should not necessarily and automatically be on the hook for a decision/mistake that is equally the woman’s responsibility.

  20. Men vs. women, blacks vs. whites, straights vs. gays and so on. Who profits in one way or the other from these divisions and this discord? Invariably it is people with an agenda which has nothing at all to do with creating a better society. This is how you arrive at positions of authority, formal or not, by pitting imbeciles against each other.

  21. My father of my fiancee’s daughter is a deadbeat piece of shit, who, like so many of these subhumans, ignores his daughter except insofar as he can use her to screw with her mother. So this issue hits personally to me.

    These things are subhuman. The life of a deadbeat has NO value to me. I wouldn’t convict a father or brother etc. who murdered the deadbeat who knocked his daughter/sister up and then walked away. I wouldn’t care if he was obviously guilty as hell – I’d Jury Nullify that dude right out of the court and into freedom. Likewise, if someone knocked up my soon-to-be stepdaughter and then jetted and refused to pay his share, I would stop at nothing, even up to murder, to punish him.

    So, all this talk of abstract “rights” is just fluff. The fact is that the state can either spend some resources forcing these rats to pay or they can spend a lot more investigating their deaths and then trying and punishing us fathers

    1. How about this case:

      Guy helps raise his ex-girlfriends daughter to the age of 4, babysitting her and bringing her diapers, etc. Ex has psychological problems and is on anti-depressants, but the relationshiop has deteriorated to the point where the guy would rather not have any relationship with her.
      The mother then denies the father visitation rights unless he agrees to live with her and support her, basically tries to use the kid to blackmail him into getting back together with her. The father is unemployed and can’t afford to pay child support or litigate.

      Result: he never sees his daughter again.

      Do you think that’s justified?

  22. You’re dead to me

  23. So do Libertarian dads like silk robes?

  24. Taking abortion out of the equation for a minute, can a mother carry a child to term, giving it up for adoption, without the father’s consent? Could a father sue for custody and force the mother to pay child support if it’s granted?

    1. Check back a few weeks for the reason story on that.

      The answer is, ummm, well it depends. Father in VA sued for custody. Which should have held up. Mother ended up giving up child to family in UT. Utah courts arent acknowledging father’s claim, because he didnt make it in Utah within XXX days of the adoption.

    2. Taking abortion out of the equation for a minute, can a mother carry a child to term, giving it up for adoption, without the father’s consent?

      AFAIK, and IANAL, as a physician, a mother does not have to name a father if none is present, and can legally give the child up for adoption if she so chooses, without the father’s knowledge.

      A father could sue for custody on biological grounds (provided he had knowledge of the birth and petitioned for a paternity test), but if adoption has already taken place, then the family court would probably reject the claim, as the mother has already given up rights to the child to the adoptive parents, and imagine would not be liable for child-support.

      I defer to any of our in-house lawyers though.

      I seem to remember a recent Reason article about this very subject. Saccharin Man (or anyone else) remember this?

      1. No. I can search for it if someone can come up with some unique keywords.

        And since the original is a question of current law and not libertarian ethics, I’ll claim no knowledge.

  25. Once the child is not attached to the mother’s body, only then does the father have a right to make decisions affecting the child.

    It is an extreme breach of liberty to give father’s the right to force mothers to have abortions or not have abortions.

    1. If the father cannot force a woman to have an abortion, then he ought to be able to sign a binding legal document that frees him from any liability for child support.

      Women should not have the right to trap a male sex partner into 18 years of economic slavery. I’m perfectly comfortable giving them 100% autonomy over whether they abort or continue a pregnancy, because the plumbing happens to be 100% located inside their bodies, over which they are sovereign, in my view. But the law should not allow their personal lifestyle choices to enslave someone else.

  26. I actually know of several instances where a woman decided to become a single mother with a man-friend’s help, promising not to demand child support, and then reneged on the deal.

    Also, plenty of cases of father’s being denied visitation rights to children and still being required to pay child support.

    Both of these are grossly injust.
    I’m not totally convinced that father’s shouldn’t be on the hook for some child support. But if they are paying child support visitation should be guarenteed. Also, child support shouldn’t last 18 years. Maybe 3-5 for non-divorce cases.

  27. I’ve published some scholarly articles on this topic, arguing that if mothers can opt out of future duties to a child via abortion, then fathers must also have similar rights. Cf.

  28. Well if the guy doesn’t want the baby a few kicks in the gut should take care of it.

  29. Men have no rights regarding pregnancy. However, men also have no legal obligation. I hate the word abortion, I prefer the term extraction. The child is extracted and dies of natural causes. Abortion is only legally wrong if the child is able to survive outside the mother.

    Morally is a whole other story.

  30. If we had reasonable laws, that unwed mothers are the sole legal parents of their offspring unless there is a post-birth adoption by the woman’s non-marital partner, then we wouldn’t have to hassle with these controversies”. Unwed men would not be responsible for child support, and also would have no rights as legal parents. Women would make unilateral decisions regarding their reproductive systems (as they should), and with their rights would go unilateral responsibilities. And being married would make the creation of a family the joint venture that it originally was intended to be.

  31. Both people should be responsible for safe sex. If a woman can decide if a fetus can live, a man should decide if the woman gets child support from him.

  32. In response to someone who said the fetus dies of natural causes after “extraction”……you’re joking, right? Natural causes? So the whole purpose of an abortion…oh, oh, excuse me, extraction, was just to remove the fetus, not kill it….right? What were they going to do with it once it was removed? What is the point of removing it? I know!!!! So it could die. P.S. 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions can involve brain scrambling and decapitation. Natural causes my fat ass.

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