Wednesday, July 24, 2013
An editorial from the New York Times:
Women’s rights advocates have long struggled for motherhood to be a
voluntary condition, and not one imposed by nature or culture. 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. In many states, infant safe haven laws allow a
birth mother to walk away from her newborn baby if she leaves it
unharmed at a designated facility.
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.
Do men now have less reproductive autonomy than women? Should men have more control over when and how they become parents, as many women now do?
The legal scholar Jane Murphy has argued that a new definition of fatherhood is emerging in our laws and court decisions which privileges a man’s biological tie to a child over other criteria. In a 2005 article in the Notre Dame Law Review, Murphy wrote about paternity “disestablishment” cases in which men who have assumed the father role in a child’s life seek genetic testing to avoid the obligations of legal fatherhood, typically when they break up with the child’s mother. Her research shows that replacing the limited “mother’s husband” conception of fatherhood with a narrow biologically based one still leaves many children legally fatherless.
Read more here.