Several months ago, I wrote a post titled, “What a Pro-Life Man Should Say When Told to Shut Up about Abortion.” The objective of the post was to address and debunk what I call the “no womb/no say” logic that is deployed to silence men in the abortion debate. Moreover, I wanted to expose and address the underlying principle of this logic, which is: unless one is impacted by an issue or action in the most direct way, one should have no agency in making decisions about that issue or action.
In any case, as you can imagine, this post generated quite a debate in the comments section. One thread of comments caught my attention; a woman posted a comment about “control” and essentially said that to be against abortion is to be in favor of “forced parenting” for women. So, I posted this question:
“Since your primary issue is “control,” here’s a question for you. Should a man be forced by the state to pay child support for a child that he did not want prior to birth? If so, why?”
Now, there is a backstory regarding why I asked this question. I used to be president of National Fatherhood Initiative and, during my tenure, there was a movement by some to legally codify a man’s right to a “financial abortion,” which meant that he would not be forced to pay child support in the case of an unwanted pregnancy. Using “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” pro-choice logic, the proponents of this movement asserted that since women and men are equal, if women have the right to avoid parenting through a physical abortion, men should have a similar right through a financial abortion. In short, if a man does not want to be a father—physically, emotionally or financially — he should not be forced to be one.
In any case, sensing the logic and equality conundrum, the woman I questioned above responded that a man should not be forced to pay child support…but she added a caveat. She offered that the man must have used birth control or supported his sexual partner using birth control, including abortion.
Her response is instructive and problematic for a number of reasons. First, it is truly amazing the mental gymnastics that people will go through in order to support abortion. In this case, this woman is willing to create chaos in our court system and in the lives of countless women and children by giving men the right to pass the responsibilities for their actions onto others. Unfortunately, abortion is a “sacrament” for some and there is little that they won’t sacrifice at its altar to protect and support it.
In any case, one should reject financial abortions for men, as I do, for the same reason that one should reject surgical/medical abortions for women. (I address the reasons in more detail in an article titled, “Are All Abortions Equal? “) In short, since life begins at conception, not birth, so does motherhood and fatherhood. Therefore, the unborn child, from conception on, is a human life worthy of protection.
Moreover, the issue here is not one of intent but rather one of potential. Specifically, when one has sex, one’s intent can vary. Some folks have sex with the intent to have a child, while others have no intention at all to have one. However, in both cases, even with the best birth control, if one is fertile, there is the potential to have a child. Every man and woman knows this. Therefore, it’s the knowledge of the potential to have a child that makes a man and a woman responsible for the life that they created together.
Second, in her attempt to protect abortion, the commenter actually ends up denying the legitimacy of abortion for most women. Specifically, she says that denying a man a financial abortion is just fine if he has not used birth control. If so, wouldn’t the “goose/gander” logic apply here as well? Therefore, a woman who does not use birth control should be denied a surgical/medical abortion as well. Since the vast majority of abortions result from the failure to use birth control – not the failure of birth control — the vast majority of abortions today would be illegitimate based on the pro-choice commenter’s logic.
That said, the bottom line issue is not really about “forced parenting.” The issue is about women and men accepting responsibility for their actions rather than sacrificing the life of a vulnerable person for their actions. Indeed, I know how scary and challenging an unplanned pregnancy situation can be because I faced one as a 20-year-old college student. (You can see my story here.) Assuredly, our actions have long-lasting consequences, but we are much less likely to regret our actions in the future when we don’t make the innocent pay for them in the present.
Now, I suspect you are wondering how the woman responded when I laid out all of the logic above. Well, she responded with a snarky post laced with condescension. Frankly, I expected as much. Unfortunately for many, when they can’t attack the logic, they attack the person. Indeed, facts are pesky things.