Sunday, March 26, 2006

Fatherhood: A Double Standard?

Whoa, now here's a touchy lawsuit. A man is suing his ex-girlfriend because he doesn't feel he should pay child support to her because she promised him that she was incapable of getting pregnant and he told her he wasn't ready to be a father anyway. I have conflicting opinions on this one, I'm not even completely sure where I stand.

Personally, I think that no matter what either party believes about their reproductive abilities, you can't be too safe. This guy probably thought, "Oh good, she can't get pregnant so I can screw her silly and not feel guilty." Yeah, right. I know a woman who was in the same boat, but she also ended up getting pregnant despite what her doctors said. I'll say it again: you can't be too safe. Whether it was condoms, the pill, spermicide, abstinance, or whatever, they should have been practicing some form of safer sex. Now the deed is done, they are separated, and there is an innocent living and breathing human being involved in this dispute. It's not like the child asked to be conceived into this situation. If either the man or woman isn't willing to face the possible consequences of their carnal actions, then they either need to be safe while having sex or just not have sex at all.

Putting the ignorance of these two aside, I do have to agree with the underlying argument of the case. The courts screw men over in these cases. Granted, women have to deal with nine long and grueling months of pregnancy should they decide to keep the child, so they are more than entitled to the broad range of options available to them. However, mens' options are a lot more limited: stay and get married or leave and pay child support. I don't think every man has the right to skip out on his responsibility--if a man fathers a child, he should make all possible efforts to care and provide for the child unless he is somehow unfit to act as a father. There are going to be extreme circumstances where an exception needs to be made, but the way the laws are set up now, there is little or no room for that exception.

That being said, I don't believe this guy should be excused from paying child support. At the same time, I hope that a precedent is set by this case that does provide men with some sort of help or further option in unusual circumstances and either reduces or eliminates the double-standard currently in place. Unfortunately, this could also end up being a "be careful what you wish for" kind of result. I don't want to see laws put in place that allow for men to force an abortion on an unwilling woman, or anything else so extreme. Keep your eyes on this case, I don't think this will be an easy decision.


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