Ever since the legalisation of abortion in many western countries throughout the 1960s, there has been one core battleground that still has not been settled – the right of potential fathers. Let me begin by saying that I am not against abortion in the slightest; however, I am deeply concerned that men have been tricked into parenthood.
In the result of accidental pregnancy, a woman has the right to an abortion. In the result of a woman telling a man she is on contraception when she is not, purely so she can become a parent, the man has no rights. In some countries he will be jailed for refusing to pay for a child that results from what is effectively fraudulent parenthood. Here in the UK, he will become a social pariah and hounded by the CSA to pay for a child he never wanted and was tricked into having. In other more traditional countries, it is demanded that he “do the right thing” and marry her.
The law determines that women in this instance are blameless, even when it there is strong belief that she has defrauded parenthood from him by lying about taking contraceptives. This does not just happen with one night stands – it happens in relationships too. I know of at least two women who have neglected to take contraceptives because she decided she wanted to have a child, taking away that choice from the man involved.
Now, the youth wing of the Swedish Liberal Party has put forward a potential system of “Male Abortion”. This does not mean imposing a physical abortion on a woman who does not want one. The idea is that up to week 18 of a pregnancy, a man may sign a document absolving himself of the responsibility of fatherhood. Should the woman choose to carry on with the pregnancy, she is solely responsible for the child’s upkeep and has no legal right to extract child support from him or name him as the legal father. Equally, he will have no legal right to see or be involved with the child.
Most surprisingly, this suggestion was put forward by female members of the party’s youth wing. Sweden has long been a hotbed of progressive thought and this, should the party adopt it, (at the moment it seems unlikely due to the negative press) it will bring true equality between the sexes on abortion rights. Many men are concerned that their reproduction rights are effectively given to women. This could settle the argument once on for all on equal parental rights for men and not suffer social penalty for doing so.
What do people think of this? Do you feel it is a good idea? Is there another way of giving men equal opt out rights when it comes to parenthood?