I can’t decide which way I feel

I worked a short day today in my attempts to stay within Bossman’s preordained 25 hours per week, so I was home to see today’s Dr. Phil episode. I would love to say I never watch Dr. Phil, but I admit it, I watch him sometimes. Today’s show is “Forced to be a Father.” The guests on the show thus far have been two men who did not make a conscious decision to have a child, but they did have children and now have to pay the child support associated.

I am fully in support of the rights of children – that none of them chose to come into this world and because they had no choice, they all have the right to have their basic needs met and to be loved. I am also pro-choice and feel that women should have the right to choose whether they take a pregnancy to full term or not. The two men on Dr, Phil’s show made some good points: they had no choice, they had no rights.

Yes, the argument can be made that these men went into the sexual relationships they had knowing that a pregnancy could result, even with the use of birth control. If a child is the result of the relationship, then he should bear half the responsibility of caring for that child. And the courts will enforce his responsibility if the mother chooses to pursue child support. But, on the other hand, if the woman decides to terminate the pregnancy or seek adoption, she has those options. Of course, she should pursue those options in discussions with the man, but that doesn’t always happen. Also, with the “Safe Haven” laws, the mother could also drop off the child at a safe haven location.

In both cases on the Dr. Phil show, the men did not want to be fathers with the women they slept with. The first man said that he was notified of the pregnancy within a week of the woman knowing and he clearly expressed he did not want to be a father to this child. The woman has pursued child support and he says he is “financially burdened” and “will always be in debt” because of this. It is easy to say he slept with her, now he has to pay the price, but again, the woman could have chosen to terminate the pregnancy or put the child up for adoption. He had no choice but to shell out the cash. I know, we don’t want a bunch of children supported on welfare, but this guy wasn’t looking to be a deadbeat dad either, he informed the mother early that he did not want to be a father.

The second guy did not even know he had a child until the child was 2 years old and the mother went after him for a paternity test and child support. I really don’t agree with the mother’s position this time. If she felt he had a responsibility to this child she should have let him know of the pregnancy before the child was even born. By the time he knew about the child he was happily married and had a child with his wife. This has been a big upset for his family emotionally and financially.

There are two experts as guests as well – Gloria Allred, president of the Women’s Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund and Mel Feit, director of the National Center for Men. Gloria, of course, is all for making sure the man pays no matter what. She did have a good comment though, and said that people need to know the person they are getting into bed with. Yes, this would be important. You should know that person and how they feel about things, and what they would do if a child results. Mel is in favor of “reproductive rights” versus women or men’s rights in situations like this and has suggested there be a period of time in which the man can opt out of being responsible for this child. He emphasizes it would be a very narrow time frame after the pregnancy is known. This seems, to me, to be a move in the right direction, however how on earth would it be enforced?

And then there is the child who is caught in all this and definitely has no rights (independent of the parent) or choices. Of course, they are the most important person in this factor and none of it seems to be a good situation for them. I just can’t decide.


1 Comment

  1. Sister said,

    June 6, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    If you choose to have sex you should be prepared for the possible consequences of that choice, both men AND women. If you create a child you are responsible for that child. You shouldn’t be able to carelessly have sex and then be able to “opt out” of parenthood or abort the baby you created. Too many people are irresponsible with their sexual behavior and they shouldn’t be able to just get rid of the “problem” afterward. But hey that’s just my opinion.

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