Thursday, December 01, 2005

Some of Us Sow the Seeds; Some of Us Grow the Trees

Dalton Conley writes in the New York Times about his right to keep the seed he sowed:

If a father is willing to legally commit to supporting and raising the child himself, why should a woman be able to end a pregnancy that she knew was a possibility of consensual sex? Why couldn't I make the same claim - that I am going to keep the baby regardless of whether she wants it or not?

Because the pregnancy equals the woman's body. It's her body that's pregnant. "Bun in the oven" is a figure of speech. It's not meant to be taken literally. A woman is not a stove. When it's your body that's pregnant; when it's your body that has something inside it, growing and using up your bodily resources, then you maybe might be able to grasp the difference between taking custody of a baby after it's born against the mother's wishes, and forcing your girlfriend to grow a baby for you inside her body for nine months. Not that I'm advocating anyone taking forcible custody of a child against the other parent's wishes, but it IS different from forcing someone to host a living being inside their bodies for close to a year.

Well, you might argue that all the man provides is his seed in a moment of pleasure. The real work consists of carrying a child for nine months, with the attendant morning sickness, leg cramps, biological risks and so on.

You're still not getting it, Dalton. This isn't about comparing manual labor to paper pushing in an office. It isn't about "doing all the work." It's about you saying to your girlfriend, "I want you to sign over your body ownership rights to me for the next nine months. And if you don't want to, I'll get the law to make you." Sorry, but that's a nonstarter.

But how many times have we heard that fatherhood is not about a moment, it is about being there for the lifetime of a child? If we extend that logic, those 40 weeks of pregnancy -- as intense as they may be -- are merely a small fraction of a lifetime commitment to that child.

Forty weeks of changing diapers and spooning Gerber's into a baby's mouth is not the same as forty weeks of biological changes in your body. Cleaning up a baby's vomit every day for three months is not the same as vomiting every day for three months (or more). Taking baby to the doctor is not the same as going to the doctor yourself for high blood pressure, trouble breathing, abdominal cramping, etc. Do you understand? You cannot compare the biological experience of growing a baby inside your body to the experience of parenting, no matter how much longer the second experience lasts relative to the first. Spare me the patronizing "as intense as they may be" crapola. You will never know.

The bottom line is that if we want to make fathers relevant, they need rights, too. If a father is willing to legally commit to raising a child with no help from the mother he should be able to obtain an injunction against the abortion of the fetus he helped create.

No he shouldn't. Raising the child yourself with no help from the woman does not compensate her for using the force of law to compel her to lease her body to you for nine months. Your legal commitment to being a parent is not a fair exchange for forcing a woman to allow her body to be subjected to pain, discomfort, and biological danger for nine months. You get an injunction to force her to put her health at risk, and you agree to change diapers and help with the homework? I wouldn't need an attorney to know that's a crap contract.

For the point of view of a different sort of man -- one who actually gets it -- read Duncan Black (aka Atrios) over at Eschaton. Oh, what the heck. I'll quote the whole thing (pretty much). It's that good.

Sometimes I wish the level of debate in our elite national publications could exceed, ever so slightly, the level of late night freshman dorm conversations. When he writes "have a say in whether to keep a baby" what he actually means is "decide what a woman does with her uterus." It would be nice if there were some intermediate position, but biology dictates that there just isn't. Either you have the baby or you don't. Someone has the right to make that decision for themselves or they don't. And, of course, he eventually makes that clear. He doesn't mean "have a say." He means "decide."

I suggest all sensible women "decide" to not let their vaginas get within 20 miles of this guy. He thinks he has the right to decide, once he voluntary donates his sperm to you, that you must carry the child to term.

Fucking wanker.


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