October 27, 2005

Who's Your Daddy?

Ahhh, it's Thursday. My favorite day of the week...and time once again for another riveting installment of As The Divas Turn. We're going to get a bit serious with this episode, I'm afraid, as we turn to the topic of paternal rights. We have two questions this week. First, should the father of an unborn child have the right to block the abortion of said unborn child. And second, should a woman who has had an abortion and not told the biological father be liable for damages?

So you'll see that we've got a few doozies on our hands.

Now, it's time for the obligatory bloggy disclaimer. I'm normally one of those people who doesn't touch the topic of abortion with a ten foot cattle prod. I can't stand how this topic turns rational people into lathered idiots by the briefest mention of it. I have yet to see one reasoned debate about any aspect of abortion on any blog, and considering I've been reading blogs for, oh, a good four years or so, that should tell you something, blog years being similar to dog years. It is a topic that raises the passions, so you will perhaps understand that when the topic was raised in group discussion that I was leery of tackling it. I will also admit that I thought long and hard about bailing out and not touching it at all because I don't feel like getting screamed at by trolls. But I haven't bailed on a Divas topic yet, and I don't intend to start now, so all I would ask is that I don't want to have regrets about sticking with it. Don't make me have regrets, ya dig? Do you get what I am saying? You do? Excellent. DAMN THE TORPEDOS!


As to the first question, should the father of an unborn child have the right to block the abortion of said unborn child? Yes, absolutely, is my answer. It takes two to tango, after all. The father of the child should have precisely the same legal rights as the mother. But---and you knew there was a 'but' coming, didn't you?---it's not only one life he would be holding in his hands, but two, mother and child being something of a package deal. Does the father of said child---if we're working under the assumption that these presumptive parents aren't married, nor even committed---take care of both of them for nine months and then ditch the mother after she gives birth? Is he legally allowed to do that? To control her life because that's just the way the biology works? Under our system of laws---and by that I mean the US legal system---this is a moot point. I'm not an expert on these matters, but a woman over the age of majority doesn't need to notify anyone of what she intends to do. Furthermore, she is the sole authority over what happens to her body---and any child she's carrying. In which case the father of said child would be up shit creek.

I find this an interesting question because it seems like an odd, world-turned-on-its-ear, futurama question, even for someone who is as reasonably young as I am at age thirty-four. It sounds like a future where the sexes really are equal, whereas men, today, still, other than through court-ordered child support payments, aren't held responsible for their actions to the same degree that women are. Nor do I think there's been a sea change in attitudes toward single fatherhood since I was younger. The history of male-female relationships is there for all and sundry to see: given the male half of humanity's long history of dumping women they thought suitable for sleeping with, but not for marrying, this is a curious hypothetical situation. Don't get me wrong. I think it's good that some hypothetical man would want to block an abortion. I just find it unusual because the whole situation is set up specifically because men have neglected their duties in this arena. For millenia women were abandoned, vilified and treated like the scum of the earth because they'd had sexual relations out of the bonds of holy wedlock. God help the child born of such a union. It doesn't bear repeating, does it, what it would be like for such a child because it was generally awful? Yet, nothing ever happened to the man in such a circumstance, of course. They got off Scot-free; the system being, after all, rigged in their favor. They made the rules---and of course it was always their word against the woman's when it came to establishing parentage. Women worked around their rules and tried to create options for themselves. It would seem by this hypothetical question as if the men didn't appreciate being left out of it.

As to the second question, should a woman who has had an abortion and not told the biological father be liable for damages, I have no freakin' clue. I would lean toward saying "yes" but, as with all other legal questions I tend to think about the precedent this would set, and I cannot imagine what sort of precedent this would set because my mind just doesn't go that far. I have a feeling that screaming "tort reform" isn't going to help me out here, so I will simply say this: beware where you go and claim liabilty. I could easily see a woman countersuing and asking for damages for pain and suffering due to the abortion she thought she had to have because she didn't feel she could tell the father of child the truth because she feared for her life, etc. Tack on the "loss of consortium" charges and you've got yourself one heck of a countersuit.

One could make the assumption that the only purpose of such a lawsuit would be to punish the mother of the aborted child. In a situation such as this, where most rational people would be feeling pain from every angle conceivable, it doesn't make much sense to me to create more of it. This, of course, assumes certain emotional reactions of the respondents, but I can't see where it would be a great idea even if the bitch was richer than Croesus. Too much pain by attempting, once again, to attach a monetary sum to a human life.

All righty then, that's enough pontificating from moi. Go and see what the other divas, Silk and Phoenix, have to say on the matter. Sadie, I believe, is still on the break, but maybe if we're lucky Oklahoma's newest lawyer will chime in on this weighty subject. Ruth at Chaos Theory, this week's Guest Diva, has chimed in, so run along and read her opinion. For the male perspective Phin, Stiggy, our Maximum Leader and Jamesy are the usual token testosterone holders, hence you shall take their opinions seriously. Our guest Men's Club Member is That 1 Guy and he has chimed in as well.

Posted by Kathy at October 27, 2005 02:03 AM | TrackBack

Yeah - I wondered about the damages too - so a lawyer's opinion would be great. It's an interesting topic, anyhoo.

Posted by: Ruth at October 27, 2005 05:14 PM
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