Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Right to Not Be a Parent

I've seen the phrase, "reproductive rights" used a lot.  I approve of it.  A person should have the right to determine when and how they reproduce.  Seems to be an inherent right, too, something you don't have to have spelled out in the Constitution.  One of the "other" rights that the 9th Amendment is there to protect.


But I've noticed something else.  The moment someone starts talking about the reproductive rights possessed by men and how they tie in to abortion, no one uses the phrase "reproductive rights" anymore.  Instead, its terms like "control over one's body" and "medical self-determination" and so on.


The implications in that terminology switch makes it clear that no one wants to grant men "reproductive rights."  At least nobody in the "protect the right to abortion" movement.


Before I go on, let me be clear about my stance.  I despise abortion.  I hate the idea of it, and think that it should be a desperate practice of last resort only undertaken if the life of the mother is at risk.  That said, as I have already explained I believe that everyone has the right to determine where and how they are going to reproduce.  Thus, abortions must remain legal, and must remain safe.


But back to reproductive rights.  Right now, in the United States, a woman has the right to determine when and how she will become a mother, and cannot be forced to become a mother against her will.  Not the father of the child, not the courts, not her parents.  No one can force her to carry to term if she doesn't want to.


A man enjoys no such commensurate right, in blatant violation of the 14th Amendment.  He can be forced to become father against his will, and there is absolutely nothing that he can do about it.


Abortion is, in the end, all about determining when and how you're going to be a parent.  There should be a legal way for a man to sever all rights and obligations to a child he does not want.  A "paperwork" abortion, as it were. He should be able to sign the papers and walk away, in a similar manner that she can visit a doctor and then walk away.


And like abortion, the moment the kid is actually born, the option goes out the window.


The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution requires that everyone be treated equally before the law.  if one person enjoys a right, all people enjoy that right.  That's what "equal before the law" means.  If you don't allow all people all rights, then you've just created a privileged class, and the Constitution was specifically created to avoid doing that.


Naturally I expect one of the first responses to be "He can't get pregnant, so he has no rights."  Yeah... except he can still be forced to support a child he didn't want.  She can't be so forced.  Therefore, she has a right he doesn't, which is unconstitutional and wrong.


I expect someone to say, "If he didn't want to be a dad, then he should have kept it in his pants."  Okay, but it goes both ways.  You have to treat everyone the same, remember?  If he should have kept it in his pants if he was so afraid of the consequences of sex, then why are we allowing her to get out of the consequences of having sex?  If she didn't want to be a mom, she should have kept her ankles crossed.


Reproductive rights, if they are in fact rights, should be universal, and not just the special privilege of women.  Its time we recognize that men have them too.

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