Posted by: bridget | 15 September 2006

Pro-Woman and Pro-Life

Little late on this one. Five female state senators in Michigan have passed the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act, which is up for House vote in October. The law would make it illegal to coerce a woman into having an abortion (many women seek abortions once boyfriends or husbands threaten to file for divorce, throw them out of the house, or withhold financial support; the leading cause of death among pregnant women is murder) and illegal to perform one on a woman whom the doctor suspects has been coerced into seeking an abortion.

The elephant applauds the ladies of Michigan for bringing both feminism and choice into the pro-life aisle.

More on Michigan: In March, a Michigan man filed suit in district court, claiming that it was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause to force him to pay for a child that he did not want. He and his girlfriend had sex; she got pregnant; believing that life begins at conception, she refused to abort. He claimed that, as the law gives her the choice to abort but not him, it is a denial of Equal Protection to require him to pay child support. Several flaws in this argument:

1. Men and women are not similarly-situated during pregnancy (therefore, Eq. Prot. argument does not apply);

2. After pregnancy, men and women are similarly situated. At this point, neither party can renounce financial support without consequences. Imagine a woman who, after giving birth to an illegitimate child, refuses to feed, clothe, or bathe it (under the theory that she did not want this child); she would surely be accused of neglect. Men can also raise children and demand chil support from the child’s mother – i.e. the burdens are symmetrical.

3. With respect to adoption, men and women are similarly-situated but treated differently in only one respect: when the woman wants to give the child up for adoption but the man does not. Mr. Dubay makes this argument, stating that women can opt out of parenthood but men cannot. Good argument, wrong remedy. Correct remedy is to prohibit adoption without the consent of the father. Also, child support is thought of as the right of the child to financial support, not a right of the parent.

4. Mr. Duby ignores the distinction between financial support and actual child-rearing. Adoption allows a woman to get out of the ‘specific performance’ aspect of child-rearing – changing diapers, feeding at 2 am, and all the attendant burdens of full-time infant care. A man who does not want a child is never forced to undergo these duties against his will. (Should he want the child and the mother not want it, he can seek full custody and child support.) The current system ensures that neither party is forced to raise a child that they do not want; both parties can be forced to pay financial support for a child that they do not want. Ergo, similar treatment.

The remedy proposed by Findlaw’s Sherry Colb is straight-up big government: instead of requiring people to pay to raise their own children, we should have government take care of them. Now, the elephant is not really into the idea that her tax dollars should pay for other people’s children – if she’s going to pay for babies, she thinks that she should have had the proverbial good time that created said children. The idea that we should further remove men from the consequences of their actions and their duties, as old as mankind, to care for their young is disguisting.

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