Sunday, March 12, 2006

Choice for men?

The logic of making "choice" central to morality is unravelling further.

For years we have been told that a woman has a right to choose whether or not to become a mother, and that for this reason abortion must be allowed.

Now in America a man is arguing in court that he should have a similar right to "choose" whether or not to become a father.

It seems that the man was misled by a sexual partner who told him that she was infertile. The man is claiming he should have no liability for the child which resulted from the relationship as he never chose to have it.

The court case has put pro-abortion women in a difficult position. One liberal, pro-abortion woman, Lindsay Beyerstein, has argued that men should continue to pay for unwanted offspring on the following grounds:

If you know that you might become a dad whether you like it or not and you have sex anyway, the consequences are your problem.

Anna Winter, an Australian left-liberal, read this argument and blanched. For obvious reasons. After all, if applied consistently, doesn't it also suggest that women who have sex knowing that pregnancy might result should also live with the consequences?

So Anna has taken a different approach, and argued that both men and women ought to be able to opt out: women through abortion and men by having a right to disown a child (in certain circumstances). She writes:

I do have sympathy for the idea that men should be able to choose parenthood, and that "if you don't want to get a woman pregnant then don't have sex" is not an acceptable response ...

... should there be room for an opt-out for men who find themselves potential fathers after one-night stands or in situations where they have already made their wishes clear? Yes, it would be an enormous, morally difficult choice. But if we are to argue that women are capable of considering such huge, life-altering issues, then is it hypocritical to deny men the same level of respect?

So Anna is willing to let the state, rather than the father, pay for a child's upkeep, to keep consistently to the principle of "choice" in morality.

The question then becomes: will the state be willing to pay?

I doubt it, and therefore the Beyerstein double standard is likely to continue, in which men are told that it is morally wrong not to accept the consequences arising from sexaul relationships, whilst women are told they have a right to choose whether to live with such consequences or not.

From the conservative point of view, it is the whole approach of trying to decide moral issues on the basis of "choice" which is wrong and which leads to such outcomes, in which one woman argues for a blatant double standard, and another, in order to be consistent, accepts the idea of men disowning their own children.

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