Does a man have reproductive rights? Or is a man's deposited-in-a-woman sperm nothing but a personal waste product, a release of bodily fluid beyond his reach of legal rights and ownership?
In the ongoing and recently increasingly heated argument about Roe V. Wade, the term "a woman's reproductive rights" sounds ever loudly and clearly across the debating landscape. The central issue seems to be: does a woman have a constitutionally protected 'pro-choice' right to call all
the shots concerning the 'right to life' of the fetus; it is strictly her decision whether or not to have an abortion un-threatened
by any legal impediments?'
Where is the man in all this?
Most abortion rights arguments seem to consider a man strictly an involuntary release-er of seminal fluid, an unthinking, unfeeling--or at worst an evil-doing--violator
of woman's reproductive peace; man as the dispenser of disease--the illness being unwanted pregnancy--to be coped with by the violated woman in unrestricted consultation between her and her doctor.
A few years ago I tried to sell a script about a man who wanted his unexpectedly pregnant girlfriend to have their unborn baby (read: fetus). The man argued that love-making was an implied contract; both sides in the consensual
sexual act being conscious of the potential physical consequences of such an act; and therefore personally liable (albeit in different terms) for the unintended pregnancy
. The script posed the central question: if a man is willing to accept ongoing, post-birth responsibility for a woman's pregnancy
in the form of (the only one allotted him by nature) ongoing financial and emotional obligation during the next 18-years of the child'e life, can he legally (court mandated) require the woman to fulfill her
responsibility: carry the child to term and give it birth?
To repeat: If the man would be willing to raise the child alone--assuming that the woman chooses to leave the man and the child after giving birth--and he chooses to take on for the next 18 years all financial, emotional and geographic (raise the child alone) responsibilities
, can the woman be legally required to give birth--to THEIR child?
(Whether or not most men would honor that commitment
is not a question of legal right; but legal enforcement. Just because the law refuses or is unwilling to expend the resources to enforce a proper law--in this case, enforced child support--does that make breaking that law permissible
; and more importantly, assumed all men's actions negatively inevitable?)
Contemporary men are being asked to be responsible for their part in the sexual act (enforced legal child support
) yet when a man chooses to act even more responsibly (assume the raising of the child for 18 years when the mother does not want to assume the same responsibility), he is told by an abortion-seeking woman (and argued by the most extreme 'reproductive
rights' advocates), that he has no legal claim to the child (or even the fetus). Birth happens exclusively
in a woman's body; as such, it is an inviolable
territorial imperative: it is her wishes alone that dictate whether the fetus/child should be born; notwithstanding
any wishes on the part of the man to honor the implied contract of a consensual
sexual act with forthcoming parental acceptance of responsibility. A man's 'choice' has no standing in the 'pro choice' legal arena.
There is something unfair here; it would appear to me woman's advocates are turning a prior vulnerability of nature (possible pregnancy) into an exercise of present day raw power. Their argument seems to be: ' Men have abdicated all rights to childbirth decsions.' 'Men have no a right to a child without my permission!' 'No one (fetus) can pass through my (uterine) territory without getting my consent.'
have the right to terminate the result of an implied contract when the other side (a man) refuses to honor (with equal cost) the consequences (pregnancy) of that implied contract. However: when the male side of the contract equation steps forward to accept responsibility for his actions, I would argue the other side (a woman) must be required to have the contract honored; they should be court-compelled to give birth.
The modern call for reproductive rights' seems at times to be nothing but long-term revengeful 'tit-for-tat' against formerly powerful and perhaps even sometimes abusive men? As an old Sudanese adage would have it: "When two bulls fight, it is the ground (in this case, the fetus/child) beneath their feet that suffers." A newly enacted wrong to address an old de-facto wrong does not make a new right.