We would like to talk about men’s reproductive rights.
Fatherhood, and the role of fathers has been in the media a lot lately. And with Father’s Day right around the corner, many different topics of discussion are being played out in the media. One such discussion, brought to our attention through a New York Times opinion piece asks the question, “Is forced fatherhood fair?”
Professor Laurie Shrage points out that, “In places where women and girls have access to affordable and safe contraception and abortion services, and where there are programs to assist mothers in distress find foster or adoptive parents, voluntary motherhood is basically a reality.” But what about men?
If a man accidentally conceives a child with a woman, and does not want to raise the child with her, what are his choices? Surprisingly, he has few options in the United States. He can urge her to seek an abortion, but ultimately that decision is hers to make. Should she decide to continue the pregnancy and raise the child, and should she or our government attempt to establish him as the legal father, he can be stuck with years of child support payments.Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
The political philosopher Elizabeth Brake has argued that our policies should give men who accidentally impregnate a woman more options, and that feminists should oppose policies that make fatherhood compulsory. In a 2005 article in the Journal of Applied Philosophy she wrote, “if women’s partial responsibility for pregnancy does not obligate them to support a fetus, then men’s partial responsibility for pregnancy does not obligate them to support a resulting child.” At most, according to Brake, men should be responsible for helping with the medical expenses and other costs of a pregnancy for which they are partly responsible.
Few feminists, including Brake, would grant men the right to coerce a woman to have (or not to have) an abortion, because they recognize a woman’s right to control her own body. However, if a woman decides to give birth to a child without securing the biological father’s consent to raise a child with her, some scholars and policy makers question whether he should be assigned legal paternity.
We would like to know what you think?
What reproductive rights do you think men have right now, and are those equitable?
Should men be granted more decision making power over when and how they become parents?
And how can this control be balanced with and complement a woman’s right to her own reproductive autonomy?
Photo: Josh Parrish/Flickr