GayandRight links to a fascinating editorial that appeared in the LA Times recently:
Describing his own experience with a girlfriend who terminated a pregnancy against his wishes, Conley took some brave steps down the slippery slope of this debate, suggesting that if a father is willing to assume full responsibility for a child not wanted by a mother, he should be able to obtain an injunction stopping her from having an abortion — and he should be able to do so regardless of whether or not he's married to her.Do read the whole thing. I had never really thought about this discrepancy in these terms, but I think it's a compelling question. It would certainly be interesting if these ideas got a wider airing in the general debate about abortion.
Conley freely acknowledges the many obvious caveats in this position — the most salient being the fact that regardless of how "full" that male responsibility might be, the physical burden of pregnancy and childbirth will always put most of the onus on women. But as much as I shudder at the idea of a man, husband or not, obtaining an injunction telling me what I can or cannot do with my own body, I would argue that it is Conley who has not gone far enough.
Since we're throwing around radical ideas about abortion rights, let me raise this question: If abortion is to remain legal and relatively unrestricted — and I believe it should — why shouldn't men have the right during at least the first trimester of pregnancy to terminate their legal and financial rights and responsibilities to the child?
As Conley laments, the law does not currently allow for men to protect the futures of the fetuses they help create. What he doesn't mention — indeed, no one ever seems to — is the degree to which men also cannot protect their own futures. The way the law is now, a man who gets a woman pregnant is not only powerless to force her to terminate the pregnancy, he also has a complete legal obligation to support that child for at least 18 years.
In other words, although women are able to take control of their futures by choosing from at least a small range of options — abortion, adoption or keeping the child — a man can be forced to be a father to a child he never wanted and cannot financially support. I even know of cases in which the woman absolves the man of responsibility, only to have the courts demand payment anyway. That takes the notion of "choice" very far from anything resembling equality.