Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Unwilling Father

In America it is called "child support" and, according to American law, every child is entitled to support from both of its parents, regardless of whether or not the man wanted to become a father. Now this may sound like a no-brainer, but in the States, it is a bone of great contention.

The issue seems to be that in an age when contraception is pretty much perfected and abortion-on-demand is a woman's right, there need be no unplanned babies born. Therefore, any unplanned pregnancy that results in the birth of a child is done so at the sole behest of the mother, and a man should not be held financially responsible for 18 years for her unilateral decision to give birth.

On the surface that may seem logical, but it seems to me that there are contraceptive devices available to men and a man's failure to use them makes him just as responsible for the resultant pregnancy as the woman. Given, then, that both are equally responsible for creating an unplanned pregnancy, should the man be able to demand the woman have an abortion and, if she refuses, be excused of all paternal responsibility, including the responsibility to support his resulting offspring? The de facto choice to become pregnant was both of theirs, but the choice to remain pregnant is solely hers, after all.

It's a thorny issue...I certainly would not want to have a huge chunk of money sucked out of my wallet every month for the next 18 years as the result of a decision made by someone else, a decision with which I emphatically disagreed. On the other hand, I find the entire concept of forced abortion to be absolutely repugnant. So, should the women who choose to take an unintended pregnancy to term be entitled to support from the baby's father? Or should their unilateral decision be one that leaves them solely responsible for the support of the child?

Personally, I favour the child support. If Dude didn't want to be a daddy, then Dude needed to think ahead and wear a raincoat for the upcoming storm. Failing to use a condom is, in my book, choosing the possibility of fatherhood and all of the responsibilities that go along with it. The fact that abortion is available is, in my opinion, outside the issue...sort of like those word questions in your math exams that threw in extraneous numbers and information to make you think you had more to consider than you really did. If a man can demand that a woman have an abortion or he skates out on child maintenance, then she should be able to make an equally private and repugnant surgical demand on his an infibulation, perhaps, as a reminder of his folly.

There is, I think, no clear or equitable answer for the parents...what seems just to one seems unjust to the other. So I'm going to have to side with the courts...they basically don't care about the adults in the equation, just the best interests of the child, which are obviously served best by more income than less. Papa pays...

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