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I really like this...

pammalamma wrote this in a comment on a recent discussion as an idea to reduce abortion:

Hold men more responsible for impregnating women. Make them pay for the prenatal care, for the woman's lost work time, for the birth, for the child support.

You know, I think that's the best idea I've heard in a very long time. Seriously. (And don't do the weasel out thing that most states do and say that they can't collect until a certain threshhold has been hit.)

Don't you think it would make some men take pause and, hopefully, responsibility for their involvement in the pregnancy rather than putting it all on the woman? I also think it acknowledges that pregnancy is not easy on a woman...that it isn't difficult only financially, but that it affects her physical well-being and that she will not be able to work (I'm assuming this would include time missed after the birth). If she has issues with insurance because of missing work, this would be a huge help.

So what do you guys think?

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( 15 Transmissions — Comment )
Nov. 21st, 2008 05:06 am (UTC)
status quo?
Doesn't this already exist? Deadbeat dads can be required to pay child support. In the case of a married couple, it's assumed that the spouses have divided up the finances, or not, in a way that's agreeable to both of them.
Nov. 21st, 2008 06:14 am (UTC)
Re: status quo?
No, not in the form that Pam stated. Dads can be required to pay child support, but enforcement doesn't happen until a certain threshhold is hit. This can be $10k-$20k in some places. (In many places, they don't feel it's worth the effort until it hits a large enough quantity.) That also assumes you can track down the dad and that he's honest about his income. I had someone from the state's attorney office tell me that they generally don't double-check paperwork from the non-custodial spouse because "people don't lie about this most of the time." (Yet my ex was making $45k/yr. and was claiming he made minimum wage.)

Also, they are usually only required to pay half of medical bills, but the enforcement of this is done by the custodial parent: they have to take the non-custodial parent to court as a separate issue from the child support. This only covers medical bills of the child and doesn't address the issues of the mother's care (and prenatal falls under care of mother) or a mother's absence from work.

Basically, if things are left the way they are now, it can take months to years to ever get any sort of financial support from a child's non-custodial parent. It took me three years, and most of the legwork of finding out where my ex worked was on my head...the state won't do that proactively, generally. They take care of legal aspects once you provide the info of where he's at or where he's working. I've never gotten any of my son's medical expenses reimbursed. I have a friend who lives in a different state. Her kid's dad owes less than $25,000, so the state she lives in won't even pursue it. The only way for her to get it would be to hire a PI to find him and then pay a lawyer herself to get all this stuff taken care of, like wage garnishment. Sort of defeats the purpose to get child support payments just to pay a lawyer.
Nov. 23rd, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
Re: status quo?
My dad hardly ever paid child support. My mom didn't want to go after him, and we were okay without it. But, if there were more enforcement, in other words, if the state were to automatically press some paternity package against any father, then the woman wouldn't feel in a position of having to decide whether it was worth pursuing. Simply prove paternity, and the process takes off from there. It woudn't be easy, but wouldn't it be preferable to guys thinking they can go without the condom, because they can always use Ctrl-Z?
Nov. 21st, 2008 09:21 am (UTC)
Ok. So, could be more laws, better enforcement...complicated. I'm glad it's not a problem I've had to deal with.
Nov. 21st, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
I hope you never have to.
Nov. 21st, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
If we could get men to be more responsible, that would certainly help. My fear is that if we push men they will in turn just push the women to have more abortions. Once it starts hitting their pocketbook, they'll push back.

That's why my suggestion was to hold men accessory to murder if the girl they impregnated has an abortion (which requires that people accept that a fetus is a baby...).

My two cents.

Nov. 21st, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
I do agree with you, I think they'll push back more. On the other hand, I don't think that pushing back is an excuse not to hold them accountable...whereas women will always be held accountable.

And, honestly, I think it would be unfair to hold them as an accessory to murder (the only way to do that is to place them in a position where they are responsible for the woman 100% of the time) or too difficult to hold them to it if they are (because, again, they could claim they weren't there when it happened and had nothing to do with it...at which point, it becomes an issue of hearsay, which is not admissible in court). Legally, you have to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict someone. You can always convict the woman based on medical evidence, but it would be difficult, at best, to convict a man.

I have to ask: why do you say that the impact of finances will cause a man to push for abortion and yet say that finances should have no effect on how a woman views the choice (and therefore we should not "subsidize" unexpected pregnancies)?
Nov. 21st, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
"Push back" is certainly not a good excuse. That was not my point. My point is that I'm afraid we wouldn't save any children by enacting such a law... we'd just have more grumpy people.

You are absolutely right: That pragmatism of such a suggestion is rather feeble. Even so, if we could do it, I think it would help.

I'm glad you asked as it demonstrates where I have been unclear. Sorry about that. Let me try again:

1. Finances do have an effect on both men and women as they consider abortion (as you pointed out so well in your "rant" comment to me [and I put "rant" in quotes because, while I recognize that you were upset, it only bothered me because of your pain... not because I felt attacked or anything).

2. Even so, my point remains: If a fetus is a baby, the fact that finances are an issue does not change the legality of the choice. Just because people do something because they feel like they "have to" does not mean that they should be allowed to do it.

3. And I'm not against helping women (especially) with an unexpected pregnancy. I'm all for it, and believe that Christians and Pro-Lifers have a horrible track record of doing so. There is much truth to your complaint that Pro-Lifers seem to only care about stopping abortions, and noting more. And the fact that they are often that was is wrong. My problem with the government stepping in to "subsidize" these women has to do with three things:
a) Pragmatism--where is the money coming from?
b) Legality--the government should not enslave people to pay for this (many excellent articles on charity/slavery that would be better to read than anything I could write in this space).
c) True help--money is not the solution. Money would certainly help in the implementation of the solution, but the solution has to do with heart and life change... not just paying bills or making people comfortable.

...that's my attempt at being clearer. If it's not, keep pushing me. I'm trying [smile].

Nov. 22nd, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
1 - Agreed.

2 - I agree with you, but I'm guessing you believe that the fetus is a baby from conception. I don't agree with that, but I personally feel that 20 weeks is probably too late. Even if the child is not viable, it is clearly a human baby at some point earlier. On the other hand, I see the viability criteria as the only really objective criteria that stands regardless of religious belief...and there are issues, such as deformations or fatal genetic issues which cannot be examined until that 20 week point...so from the perspective of someone trying to be objective, that is probably the best point.

3 - You know, I agree with a lot of this, but I have one comment on the charity/slavery thing. If as a society we feel something is important, such as reducing the abortion rate, it is not enough to merely say it is important and force others to do what we want and to deal with the fallout. The only thing that every person in the country has in common is that we live under the same government and in the same country. The only means we have as a society to address the problem is to fund something through our national government or do deal with issues on a very small scale. If people want something done, they are going to have to pay for it. If they want it done, but don't want to provide the means to enable it, then they will have to content themselves with dreaming or working for it themselves on a small scale. Practically speaking, those are the only choices we have when we are dealing with issues on a national scale.

So, would people rather pay for the means to reduce abortion, or would they rather pay for all the legal costs of prosecuting and jailing women and their doctors (and possibly the fathers) in cases where abortion takes place? Putting someone in jail is at least on par with providing them with social services...unless you are advocating the death penalty. Advocates for making abortion illegal are not doing anything to save money...and given the cost of lawyers, they could be increasing it. ;-)

The issue is not whether to pay, because we will either way. The issue is what are we going to pay for: reinforcement of the things we want to see, or punishment for the things we don't?
Dec. 2nd, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
I had never heard the "what will we pay for?" line of reasoning before. Brilliant. I love it.

I'm sorry, but I was away on vacation for a week, and didn't have a chance to get back to you sooner.

Thanks for putting up with me, and I'm fairly confident I'll be chiming in again on future posts [smile]. Excellent stuff. Thanks for sharing it with me.

Nov. 22nd, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
Why are men on the hook (financially, legally, mentally) for a child at the time of conception, but women can choose to abort at any time up to 20 weeks after conception? Should not men also be allowed to effectively "abort" the fetus at any time up to 20 weeks? I am not advocating actually forcing the woman to abort, but instead to have a safe haven law where fathers can give up all legal rights at any time up to the point where it becomes illegal to abort the fetus.

One of the most hypocritical things I have ever read was where the head of an abortion rights group told fathers that they should have thought before having sex, because after conception it's too late and they have no control on whether they become fathers or not. Isn't that exactly what pro-life people have been telling women all along? Don't have sex if you don't want to become pregnant? Why should it be different for women than men? I.e. why does a woman have an extra 20 weeks after conception to decide on whether she will become a mother, but a man has no choice whatsoever after conception?
Nov. 22nd, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Should not men also be allowed to effectively "abort" the fetus at any time up to 20 weeks?

Only when women can force men to get vasectomies. ;-)

I agree with you about the comment about fathers being hypocritical. However, the fact of the matter is that men don't have to go through pregnancy, and the males physiological involvement ends at the point of conception (well, technically at the end of sex). By saying he wants to abort, he is forcing her to go through a medical procedure, which he has no legal right to do. The only way to make this truly fair to to remove the woman's choice, too...which would mean making abortion illegal. Or making him go through some equally invasive procedure when he does want to abort.

instead to have a safe haven law where fathers can give up all legal rights at any time up to the point where it becomes illegal to abort the fetus.

I agree with you to some extent (and I wished my ex could have done that way back because he obviously wanted to) but then what's to stop someone from getting a whole bunch of women pregnant and never having to take responsibility for them. (Say, like, Travis Henry.) Perhaps you could implement this with the condition that they DO get a vasectomy if they chose to give up parental rights and responsibilities, therefore ensuring you won't have too many repeats. At the very least, there should be a limit to how many times one can do this...and then we get into the question of why should he be allowed to do it once or twice but has to provide support for kids after that.

I would expect that the fallout from something like this would be to increase abortions due to the fact that some women may not have sufficient income to care for a child themself (which is already listed as a major factor) and increase poverty rates among single mothers (if they choose not to have an abortion), which are already pretty bad. It is hard enough to get a decent chunk of the fathers out there to pay child support, even if when they claim they want to be involved with their child.

The idea behind her suggestion was to decrease the number of abortions, but a lot of people bristle at the notion of providing more welfare services for moms. If you have some way to do that while working around the "public monies for welfare" stigma, I'd like to hear it.
Nov. 23rd, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)
Well, the man can't save a child from the woman aborting, even if they want to adopt it, so I think it stands to reason that they also cannot choose to kill the child. I knew a man whose wife aborted his child basically out of spite. So, I guess that the law basically treats an unborn child as the woman's property, until birth. After that, it's the legal obligation of both parents. That's not what I consider ideal, but it is logically consistent.
Nov. 23rd, 2008 06:57 am (UTC)
If that's the case, then it is not consistent to have the man pay any support (prenatal, lost wages, etc.) until the child is born, since the fetus is 100% the woman's responsibility until then.
Nov. 23rd, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
As I said, I don't agree with the current state of affairs; I don't think unborn children should be treated as chattel. I would like to see a change wherein the man has both more rights and responsibilities toward his unborn children. I don't think men, or women, however, should be able to terminate the child's life, except in very specific circumstances, but I guess I would like to see the man have more say in whether his child lives, which is why I mentioned my friend. They ended up getting divorced over that.
( 15 Transmissions — Comment )

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