Posted in Gender

Is “Male Abortion” The Right Way To Go?

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?

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Author:

I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

37 thoughts on “Is “Male Abortion” The Right Way To Go?

  1. It’s interesting that progressive Sweden has borrowed an idea from the men’s rights movement. I do have some questions about this:

    How are the best interests of the child factored into this?

    What if a woman doesn’t tell a man that she’s pregnant until 19+ weeks into it? She would have circumvented the law and deprived him of exercising his option, but would he have any redress?

    What if he accepts parental responsibility only to discover years later that the child isn’t really his? Does he have any recourse then?

    1. All very interesting questions.

      How are the best interests of the child factored into this?

      It probably isn’t, but neither is abortion or tricking a man into fatherhood when he has expressed strong opinion that he does not want children – either at the moment, or ever.

      What if a woman doesn’t tell a man that she’s pregnant until 19+ weeks into it? She would have circumvented the law and deprived him of exercising his option, but would he have any redress?

      Agreed. Such a safeguard would be required.

      What if he accepts parental responsibility only to discover years later that the child isn’t really his? Does he have any recourse then?

      One would hope and expect so, just like now.

      I think this is purely academic as party leadership has shot it down in flames. It has, however, started a debate about men’s rights with regard to parenthood and the one issue where I do agree with MRAs – consent to sex should not be automatically read as consent to parenthood.

  2. A man has complete agency over his body and can choose to use a condom if he doesn’t want a child. They do fail, but at about the same rate of contraceptive birth control (which is very rarely). The chance of getting someone pregnant with proper condom use for an individual man is extremely low. I think it’s just as much a tragedy when a man puts all of the responsibility of birth control on the woman in a relationship and then acts like he had no say in the matter. Wrap it up! Unlike hormonal birth control, there are no physical side effects to condom use and you get to control your reproductive health.

    In cases where a man was using condoms and the woman sabotaged them, that’s pretty awful. I do think there should be some recourse there. Any kind of actual reproductive sabotage should be (and is in many places) illegal. But if you were too lazy/ selfish/ entitled to use a condom and you get someone pregnant, that’s the price of admission. Every time you choose to have unprotected sex, you are taking the chance that a pregnancy could happen. Everyone knows that, so you can’t pretend otherwise.

    The main problem with allowing a man to just sign away responsibility for a child he helped to create is that it could put some women in a position where they have to make a moral choice about their body that they feel forced into. I’m very pro-abortion, but if a low-income woman with strong religious or moral convictions against abortion (or who doesn’t want to go through a painful medical procedure or any number of other perfectly valid reasons) is impregnated by a deadbeat who insisted on not using condoms and put all of the responsibility for protection on her, she would be in a bad position if he just decides he doesn’t feel like contributing to the life he helped create… She can end up either a single mother making all of the sacrifices and getting no help (which already happens a lot because a court order to pay doesn’t keep lots of those deadbeats from skipping jobs to avoid the garnishment, working under the table, or otherwise shirking responsibility for a life that they created) or having to betray her own sense of morality/ decency/ body autonomy, etc.

    1. I think it’s just as much a tragedy when a man puts all of the responsibility of birth control on the woman in a relationship and then acts like he had no say in the matter.

      Completely agreed, but I am not talking about those instances. I’m talking about parenthood by deception.

      In both of my relationships, it has been the woman who has pushed for us to stop using condoms. With my ex-wife, I refused to stop using condoms because I knew she was angling for a baby at the time. I would not have put it passed her to have neglected to take the pill. This happens whether women like to hear it or not. Plus, using a condom when your partner is angling for you to stop smacks of distrust, does it not? Trust is the foundation of any relationship.

      Every time you choose to have unprotected sex, you are taking the chance that a pregnancy could happen

      Ultimately, women have the legal right to opt out of being a parent in such a case and men don’t. That’s the crux of my argument and I’m not sure why it makes women uncomfortable that men simply want the same right to opt out of parenthood that women have.

      or otherwise shirking responsibility for a life that they created

      Playing devil’s advocate here, but from the perspective of people who are anti-abortion, isn’t that precisely what women who opt for abortion are doing? You’re using their exact same argument but seemingly making an exception purely on the grounds of gender.

      1. I think being deceptive is a terrible thing, and if you believe your partner is someone who would do that, you have every right to distrust them. Even if you didn’t have that feeling, I don’t think choosing to use birth control is indicative of lack of trust. Reverse the genders… If a man wanted to use condoms and his girlfriend /wife still wanted to use birth control to protect herself against failure, no one would think that the least bit odd. I find condom use a sign of responsibility. It is completely positive to want autonomy and control over your reproductive health.

        I think the main difference when it comes to “shirking responsibility” between a “real” abortion and what you’re talking about is that there is actually a child involved. Not an embryo. Not a fetus. Not a ball of cells that can’t sustain life outside of the womb. An actual, human child. A real person who has needs. A person who has half of your DNA and is walking the earth.

        And like I said, the main problem I see with a man being able to sign a piece of paper and walk away with no skin in the game is that it forces the woman’s hand. If it was solely financial, maybe you’d have a tentative argument. But it puts immense pressure on her to have a painful procedure or be relegated to a life of solely raising a child that she is only half responsible for creating. In no case does a woman get off Scott free. There are always costs to her heath, body, wallet, and lifestyle. The man, on the other hand, would have zero responsibility in something he was just as involved in creating. It swings the pendulum too far in the other direction.

        1. The man, on the other hand, would have zero responsibility in something he was just as involved in creating

          At the moment, and when talking about unwanted accidental pregnancies, he has no say in his own reproduction. When a woman makes that decision for them both, she is imposing that on him and expecting him to pick up the tab. This is just as wrong as a man forcing her to have an abortion against her wishes.

          1. He did have a say. He could have worn a condom. Unless in your incredibly specific scenario she poked holes in it. The problem I have with your argument is that it supposes men have zero control, but they do except in very rare cases (like if she poked holes in his condom). Deciding you don’t want to use a condom and protect yourself is not having no say. It is simply choosing not to exert control over the situation, then taking no responsibility when the outcome isn’t what you wanted.

            1. I listed an “incredibly specific example” because it happens more than people are prepared to admit, that a woman tells a man she is on the pill knowing that she isn’t, in order to trap him into parenthood. Being a woman, I can only suggest that you have no idea how manipulative and sulky women can get when they don’t get their own way and think they are not trusted.

              Besides, this is about giving men the same right to opt out of being a parent that women have had in most western countries for the last 50 years.

            2. I absolutely know that every person, regardless of gender, has the potential to be shitty and manipulative. I dealt with a very manipulative ex, so I know the depths people can go to. I do think rights should exist in cases of reproductive fraud. I just don’t know how we would be able to prove that was the case because accidents and mistakes happen even when the woman is on birth control.

              If there isn’t manipulation or fraud, though, I don’t think it’s a good idea. If a man puts all of the owness on the woman for birth control by not wearing a condom, he shouldn’t then be able to put all of the responsibility for providing for the child onto her.

            3. If there isn’t manipulation or fraud, though, I don’t think it’s a good idea

              When we cut to the chase, you are saying women should have the right to opt out of parenthood (because you said above you are in favour of abortion being legal) but men should not?

            4. Women have that right because it is their body housing the child. As a woman currently 24 weeks pregnant, even when the baby is wanted, lots of things about pregnancy suck. It can also be wonderful in ways I can’t describe. So, yes, I support a woman’s right to abort if she chooses. But I also understand that even women who believe in abortion in theory may not be able to have their own fetus aborted. There is the matter of the pain of the procedure (either kind), the mental anguish, and all of the hormones that make that decision even more difficult.

              Biology dictates that a man can’t have an abortion because he isn’t carrying the child. You also can’t force someone else to do (or not do) something with their body. I’m saying that if a man doesn’t want a child, he needs to use condoms. Period. Once he has created a life, his options are limited. The woman gets the decision about her body. And if that decision means a child is born, that child is a direct result of his actions (and sperm), and he has a responsibility to support that life.

            5. Also, men do have the option to opt out of parenthood. Before there is a child. Same as women. Their options for that simply hinge on using protection. Or male birth control once that becomes widely available. Biology dictates that.

            6. Also, men do have the option to opt out of parenthood.

              I would say considering he can be hauled up in front of a judge and forcibly have money extracted from him suggests that he does not have that right. In some states in your country, he can be jailed. Jail or pay up is not much of a choice?

              Their options for that simply hinge on using protection. Or male birth control once that becomes widely available. Biology dictates that.

              But accidents still happen. For true equality, the decision should not be the sole preserve of one person and the other should have the right to disagree with the decision of the other.

              Biology dictates that a man can’t have an abortion because he isn’t carrying the child.

              So you disagree with the UN then? Regardless of biology…

              http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/theme/rights/

              All couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education and means to do so; the responsibility of couples and individuals in the exercise of this right takes into account the needs of their living and future children, and their responsibilities toward the community’ (para. 14(f) in the Principles and Objectives.

              A man who is paying for a child he never wanted and probably never sees and had no say in the child’s birth, has had his reproductive rights violated according to this. His right to have future children with another woman will be impacted by the previous woman deciding not to have an abortion – a decision made without his approval. If you look through the link, it refers to “couples and individuals” not “couples and women alone”.

            7. That U.N. quite references birth control, which all men in my country and yours have a right to. That is addressed at countries that do not allow access to birth control, which is widely and easily available in every developed country.

            8. Yes, it also addresses the right to decided on individuals right to reproduction – including the timing, number of children and how far apart they are spaced. I see nothing to suggest that men have no rights in the result of accident which is what you seem to be advocating, or in cases of deception.

            9. Men have those rights, by using protection. No one is protected against every possibility in life. What about the woman who accidentally gets pregnant but doesn’t know until it’s too late? Ever seen the I didn’t know I was pregnant show? That happens more than you would imagine, too. Living involves an inherent amount of risk and unknown, and there are many things out of our control. A man should choose his partner wisely, discuss what would happen in the event of an accident in advance, and use protection. We can’t protect everyone from every unlikely scenario. It’s simply not possible.

            10. Sorry, I have to drag you back to the point… the legal right for people to decide their own reproduction and not have somebody else to decide it for them – and that includes women’s right to abortion. You’re saying men should not have that right after the fact? That’s the sort of argument anti-abortionists use against women “if you didn’t want a baby you should have used protection – tough shit!”

              That is what this proposal is all about – the right for men not to be expected to “do the right thing” or otherwise have the financial burden imposed on him by society or by a woman who has tricked him into fatherhood and received no penalty for doing so.

              Must I also remind you that the youth arm of the Swedish political group that recommended it were largely women?

              All of your suggestions are great in hindsight. Some women become manipulative when her biological clock starts to tick. She decides her right to a child trumps her partner’s right not to have a child.

            11. I’ve already conceded that in cases of reproductive fraud there should be some legal protection. You seem to want it both ways… You argue men need an out from manipulative women (which I agree with), but then want to apply that to all cases including ones where the man just doesn’t feel like using protection and wants a means to force the woman to abort or be doomed to a life of poverty while he skips off Scott free. That’s the part I disagree with and always will.

            12. She has a choice too – does she not? If a man “doesn’t feel like using protection” she can either insist he uses some or simply close her legs until he is willing to do so.

              I agree that everybody should take responsibility and leaving aside the argument of fraud (because we are in agreement), accidents happen. Why should the woman’s desires trump the man’s in the result of an accidental pregnancy?

              He is not forcing her to abort. She can opt to be a single parent or give the child up for adoption. You’re quite happy to force a man to pay for a child he doesn’t want but not happy to expect a woman to pay for a child she does want?

            13. When did I say a woman shouldn’t pay for a child she doesn’t want? Lots of women discover after they have a child that they aren’t cut out for it. I believe they should be equally responsible to pay for that child. My belief is that once there is a child, regardless of how that life came to be (again, outside of cases of fraud), both parents are responsible for seeing that child through to adulthood. Life is difficult and there are things we can’t control that suck. That doesn’t absolve us from responsibility. The child didn’t ask to be born, but it still needs to be fed and housed and otherwise taken care of until it can do so on its own.

            14. Just saw that I misread your last sentence. I know it seems unfair to you that a man would have to pay for a child he didn’t want. It is unfair. But there are so many things in life that are unfair, and we have to look at the bigger picture. Will correcting an unfairness cause more unfairness or harm? Will it result in a child who doesn’t get fed or has to live on the street or I a shelter? Will it result in a woman who feels her only choice is a painful medical procedure that ends a life I side of her body? Will it put vulnerable women in more precarious positions? I believe it would, and I believe that unfairness is worse than a man having to pay for a life he helped to create.

    2. What if we gender reverse some of your statements? “If a woman is too lazy/ selfish/ entitled to use birth control and gets pregnant, that’s the price of admission.” The sexism would be obvious. How we to and about others matter.

      1. Only if birth control had no side effects like condom use had no side effects. As it is, birth control can cause a number of terrible side effects including blood clots, trouble breathing,  pain and swelling in the legs, weight gain, nausea, breast tenderness, and menstrual cycle changes to name just a few. Additionally, she is the one who has to pay the physical price solely of child birth or abortion. There is no just signing a piece of paper and being done.

        1. That wasn’t my point. My point is the importance of respectful and empathetic discussion. It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

          1. Why should I be respectful to deadbeat dads, though? They aren’t respectful or responsible to their own blood.

          2. I don’t know that what you claim is actually true. Poverty is not the #1 reason in my experience. At least not true poverty. Maybe manufactured poverty on paper caused by someone trying to get around court orders. Child support orders are generally designed so that the payments are reasonable to the person’s income or what they should reasonably be able to make. For instance, if you are a male in your late 20s with no disabilities and no legitimate reason not to work, you have to be making an effort to find a job and will be held responsible for supporting your child to a reasonable level based on that.

            I know of so, so many cases personally where the father chooses to work under the table, skip around from job to job, and otherwise dodge paying for their child despite having the clear means to do so and being an able bodied person capable of keeping a decent job. I’ve even dealt with employees like that. There are so many men (and women) gaming the system, choosing to sit at home or be under or unemployed rather than work and support their child. People who feel fast food or other minimum wage type jobs are “beneath them.” People who would rather work for cash intermittently and love on their parent’s couch than get a full time job. In every single case I’ve been aware of, the person has no problem with housing, feeding himself (often wasting more money on fast food than the entirety of the child support payment every month), and affording plenty of luxuries like the newest phone and other expensive electronics.

            People who are truly living in poverty and doing their best every day have nothing but my respect. Those are people you will meet who have two jobs. Who will do any work they can get. Who aren’t tens of thousands of dollars behind in child support while sitting at home or jumping around jobs. Those people are rarer in my experience than those who do everything in their power to avoid supporting their child.

            I do agree that something should be done about cases where a man is tricked or sabotaged into parenthood. Similar laws to when someone knowingly infects another person with HIV or otherwise assaults them. There should be some sort of “fruit of the poisoned tree” doctrine applied that absolves responsibility in those cases. But the key will be proof. Otherwise people suffer who did nothing wrong, especially the child.

            1. 63% of deadbeat dads earn under $10,000/year, and non-custodial moms are more likely to be deadbeats. But that’s because women are more likely to be poor. (I tried including links, but it seems to have been flagged as spam.)

            2. No statistic can account for what percentage of those people are working under the table or unemployed by choice, though. Deadbeats of either sex are equally disgusting.

            3. Guys, I appreciate your passion but absentee parents is irrelevant to this post which is about the legal right for a man to control his own reproduction rights and not be forced into marriage (which is internationally illegal) or paying for a baby he never wanted and ultimately had no say over, and the right to legally absolve his responsibility at week 19 which most countries have the cut off point for abortion.

              It’s not about two people agreeing to have a child and then one of them shirks their responsibility. We can all agree that those people deserve the title of “dead beat”.

  3. Wow. What a thing to ponder over. I’d say it may sound good in theory, but not realistic to implement, mostly based on the questions that Dave brought up. While they’re not 100% reliable, most of this could be overcome if a man choose to wear a condom regardless of whether the woman says she is taking the pill or not.

    1. But doesn’t that sow the seeds of mistrust?

      “Honey, you know I’m on the pill. Why are you reaching for a condom?”
      “Just want the safeguard.”
      “We talked about this. The pill is safe and effective and it feels better without.”
      “It’s cool, I just want to make sure.”
      “Don’t you trust me?”
      “Ummm.”

      1. I guess it does. Not sure how to get around that. I guess it’d be worth a little mistrust rather than having to take care of a child for 18 years. I’m sure there’s away around the trust issue, but I can’t think of it offhand.

      2. Instwad of “ummm” there at the end, you say, “no birth control is 100% effective, and I really don’t want to chance an accidental pregnancy. I don’t want children/ I’m not ready for children/ It’s better safe than sorry.”

  4. If a man never wants children, why not have a vasectomy. Otherwise I would say, wear a condom.

    There are enough women out there who don’t completely understand how oral contraceptives work or perhaps as you say might be deceitful. For some heavier women the dose might not be strong enough. Medications like herbal supplements and antibiotics can interfere with their effectiveness.

    I guess as a woman, no matter what I was doing/not doing birth control wise, I’ve always had the thought that the possibility of pregnancy was always there. That is what I plan to teach/have taught my own children. Decide what amount of risk you are willing to take and proceed from there. I have a son and a daughter so I can see it from both sides.

    I would see a lot of problems with the legislation. Who decides when the 18 week mark comes and goes…the word of the mother? I have irregular periods. With my second pregnancy I was 14 weeks along when my I was feeling nauseous and decided to take a pregnancy test. It took an ultrasound to determine I was at 14 weeks. I was shocked, and my husband and I really had given up on the idea that I could get pregnant.

    I wouldn’t see lawmakers supporting this. Why have the taxpayers shoulder more of the burden for providing services to these children, when there is someone already can help pay.

    1. If a man never wants children, why not have a vasectomy. Otherwise I would say, wear a condom.

      There are two other groups to consider.
      1. He doesn’t want children yet.
      2. He doesn’t want children with this particular woman.

      I live in the UK. I don’t know the consultation for vasectomies go for men in the USA, but here I know the NHS is reluctant to allow childless men to have them. If you’re under 25 and childless, I’ve heard they won’t even consider it.

      I am nearly 41 and seriously considering having “The Snip” this year. I have never wanted to have children but I guess I am of that age that I am unlikely ever to change my mind.

      Who decides when the 18 week mark comes and goes…the word of the mother?

      I would imagine ultrasound scans determine the stage of the foetus.

      Why have the taxpayers shoulder more of the burden for providing services to these children, when there is someone already can help pay

      Indeed, but it’s not fair on a man who has become a parent by deception, and to be expected to continue to pay money to his fraudster. In no other case of fraud do we blame the victim of the fraud and demand they continue to pay money to the person who deceived them. I’m sure these cases are not that common, but I bet they are common enough.

      Also, despite the myth, it is not just men who push to stop using condoms. My ex-wife did it but as I knew she was trying to pressure me into having kids, I refused. I am so glad I didn’t stop using condoms. Recently, my girlfriend decided to go on the pill. Again, she was the one who wanted us to stop using condoms. I am happy to do so because I trust that she respects my right to remain child-free. I have never had sex without a condom and have always been happy to use them which is probably why I have not yet had a vasectomy.

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