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Women who put babies up for adoption required to publish sexual pasts
August 7, 2002 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Women who put babies up for adoption required to publish sexual pasts Web sites can't collect info on minors, but Florida wants all women, including minors, to publish their sexual history in local newspapers before they're allowed to give their child up for adoption. Abortions are difficult to get in Florida, almost impossible for some minors because of parental notification and permission requirements, yet wouldn't this law push more women towards abortion rather than towards adoption?
posted by dejah420 (83 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
In the newspaper notice, the mother must list her name, describe herself, name or describe the possible father(s) and list the date and the city or county of conception.

How much does it cost to buy one of these ads?

Name: Jane Doe, a friendly outgoing people person who worked as a temp at the local Ford plant for six months; possible fathers: Dave from accounting, his roomate Bill, the long-haired guy who delivers the water bottles on Thursdays, Ed Somethingorother who I met at Bill's wedding, a pizza deliveryman who drove a Renault Fuego, Jose Canseco; date of conception: September 2001 ("terror sex"); location: My apartment, other apartments and homes in Osceola County, the unisex restroom at Fort Lauderdale Airport, the second-floor office supplyroom, and Dave's house while his wife was visiting her parents in Orlando.
posted by rcade at 10:51 PM on August 7, 2002


that's f***** up. i'm sure (hopefully) the courts will rule this unconstitutional. it seems to me that most sex therapists and general advice writes often state that men should not ask their partner about previous flings or relationships, why should the general public be required to know as well?
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 11:01 PM on August 7, 2002


Dear males of Florida:

If you make the decision to stick your condomless d*ck into a Floridian female who you know so well that you need a damn newspaper annoucement to find out that she's pregnant... guess how much right you should have to say how she handles her pregnancy?

Yeah, that much.
posted by Lori at 11:07 PM on August 7, 2002


Yeah Lori, because all men skip out of town on the women they make condomless love to, and women never, ever, make themselves unavailable while they're depressed after realising they made a big mistake when they let that dick in them in the first place.

I mean, the phrase "Playing hard to get" is only something people say in the movies, right?
posted by shepd at 11:16 PM on August 7, 2002


I think this new law is downright misogynist. If one of these fathers wants to exert any legal authority over a baby he should have stuck around in the first place.

In the abortion debate, we've traditionaly had pro-life and pro-choice. Now we have pro-death.
posted by Loudmax at 11:17 PM on August 7, 2002


I saw this on cnn yesterday afternoon and nearly had a seizure it made me so angry. One of the examples was an underage incest victim for god's sake! And apparently if you move from florida you have to keep publishing your info in each state. Frankly it just seems like some sort of puritan punishment for having had sex.

wouldn't this law push more women towards abortion rather than towards adoption?

Considering how many anti choice people seem to be in politics in the states I'm amazed that this would seem sensible to anyone like that who might have been involved in creating this stupid assed cruel policy.

Overall florida seems like one really crazy messed up place.
posted by zarah at 11:22 PM on August 7, 2002


to me, even letting too much of my personality out here is slightly humiliating. i could only imagine the humiliation of having to write about my sex life in the newspaper. especially forcing minors to put their names down; if we don't know the name of the punk who broke into my neighbor's house by reading the blotter, why should i be allowed to gossip about that 14-year old hussy jane doe? you know her parents didn't raise her right (even though i was doing the same thing when i was 13).

compelling someone to publish things they wouldn't wouldn't tell most people in person is an unusual punishment (in my eyes).

i'm just accepting things are done differently in florida
posted by the aloha at 11:31 PM on August 7, 2002


Any woman who has to take out an ad like this should simply name several of their state politicians as potential fathers.
posted by Dirjy at 11:53 PM on August 7, 2002


Yes, shepd, I see your point. That may very well be the situation. But the thing is, the woman is supposed to perform an exhaustive search to try and locate the father before the newspaper requirement kicks in. If she's the one playing hard to get, then it shouldn't be so hard for her to track him down.

But the imagery is that a lot of these guys will be Mr. One-night-stand, who had unprotected sex with a woman that he didn't know well enough to even be told when she becomes pregnant. This isn't exactly behavior that one would expect from a guy who cares so much about any potential children they might be siring.
posted by Lori at 11:56 PM on August 7, 2002


... and if he doesn't care, exactly why should he be afforded the luxury of this massive invasion of his lover's privacy?
posted by Lori at 11:57 PM on August 7, 2002


"...the imagery is that a lot of these guys will be Mr. One-night-stand, who had unprotected sex with a woman that he didn't know well enough to even be told when she becomes pregnant. This isn't exactly behavior that one would expect from a guy who cares so much about any potential children they might be siring."

or...

...the imagery is that a lot of these women will be Ms. One-night-stand, who had unprotected sex with a man that she didn't know well enough to even tell when she becomes pregnant. This isn't exactly behavior that one would expect from a woman who cares so much about any potential children they might be producing.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:01 AM on August 8, 2002


OK, mr_crash_davis, true, a woman in this scenario is acting irresponsibly. The point is that the man by having an unprotected one night stand is taking the risk that he might end up fathering a child, and that he won't necessarily ever find out about it. The woman, obviously, is going to know.
posted by Lori at 12:18 AM on August 8, 2002


In the same vein that *some* men don't understand why it's a woman's perogative to have an abortion, there are *some* women who don't understand why an unknowing father might resent his child being given to strangers. Seems to happen a lot and it's not just one nighters. My nephew recently found out he has a daughter who is seven years old...they had broke up after three years, she rebounded into a marriage, two more kids and now, with the divorce and all she calls with the news. Being a prudent and decent guy, after the DNA confirmation he's getting to know his daughter and paying child support. There's two sides to every coin.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:27 AM on August 8, 2002


If one of these fathers wants to exert any legal authority over a baby he should have stuck around in the first place.

This is the essence of Oregon's law for birthfather rights. Oregon is one of the few states with a law like this.
posted by bravada at 12:29 AM on August 8, 2002


Lori, I don't support this ridiculous bill, but I think it's every bit as irresponsible for women to have unprotected sex with men they don't know as it is for men.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of men who are willing to take care of their responsibilities, and they deserve to know they've brought a child into the world just as much as the woman does.

I wish I knew what the answer was.

And yeah, on preview, Mack Twain is also saying it: "an unknowing father might resent his child being given to strangers"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:30 AM on August 8, 2002


Wow, Mack Twain, that's horrible. And if the Florida law has a provision "hey, you should notify your boyfriend of three freakin years before you give the child up for adoption," that certainly makes sense, unless it's something where abuse was involved (naturally, your nephew gets the benefit of the doubt here).

Yeah, mr_crash_davis, I'm very very pro-birth control and very very anti-unplanned pregnancy. The idea of women bringing children into the world without giving it a second thought upsets me a lot. But the idea of a guy spreading his proverbial seed around while giving little thought to the fact that children might result manages to piss me off even more. At least the woman has to deal with it, while it seems that a lot of men in the world would be pretty content not knowing (think deadbeat dads). Hence my uhhh... rather emotional initial response.
posted by Lori at 1:17 AM on August 8, 2002


The arguments going on in this thread about who may or may not be responsible are so totally beside the point. This isn't a he said she said thing at all and no humane individual of either sex should support such a humiliating and one sided policy. I haven't heard of any such policy being in place for men who have unprotected sex..... for instance they could require floridian (erm, is that the right thing to call 'em?) men to disclose all their personal info and sexual activity say once every 9 months on the chance that one of them might be a father. Uh yah, that would be as sick and stupid as the existing situation for floridian women.

I guess some places just enjoy making women pay more for the mistakes they make.
posted by zarah at 1:30 AM on August 8, 2002


all off, next stop; scarlet letters and public stonings. but just for the ladies of course.
posted by t r a c y at 1:40 AM on August 8, 2002


Lori, I don't support this ridiculous bill, but I think it's every bit as irresponsible for women to have unprotected sex with men they don't know as it is for men.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of men who are willing to take care of their responsibilities, and they deserve to know they've brought a child into the world just as much as the woman does.

I wish I knew what the answer was.

And yeah, on preview, Mack Twain is also saying it: "an unknowing father might resent his child being given to strangers"


Yes, the woman's irresponsible (unless it's rape or she's a minor), the man's irresponsible, but the woman is the one who has to pay - first by having a child she doesn't want secondly by being treated like a slut with no rights. That's the point. Like zarah said.
posted by Summer at 2:29 AM on August 8, 2002


Any woman who has to take out an ad like this should simply name several of their state politicians as potential fathers.

I was pretty pissed after reading the article, and then I read this fabulous suggestion. Thanks for the laugh, Dirjy. I needed that.
posted by jennak at 3:51 AM on August 8, 2002


It sounds like Florida's law makers are poster children for late term abortions - up to the 300th trimester.
posted by substrate at 4:33 AM on August 8, 2002


...the imagery is that a lot of these women will be Ms. One-night-stand, who had unprotected sex with a man that she didn't know well enough to even tell when she becomes pregnant. This isn't exactly behavior that one would expect from a woman who cares so much about any potential children they might be producing

and it may be why she is putting the child up for adoption? because she knows she can't/won't be a good parent and is trying to do the responsible thing? I can't see how this law will stand.

And what zarah and Lori said.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 5:04 AM on August 8, 2002


Thank you Zarah: "for instance they could require floridian (erm, is that the right thing to call 'em?) men to disclose all their personal info and sexual activity say once every 9 months on the chance that one of them might be a father."

I was just thinking the same thing. It's the "moral double standard" -- the woman is shamed because she had sex with some guy and got pregnant, but if they're going to require that she post her sexual history in the newspaper, then he should have to post his after he's identified as the father.

It's unfortunate that any woman finds herself in this situation, but even more unfortunate that the Florida legislature is including public shaming into the mix. These women are trying to give their children a better life, for pete's sake. Let them do it in private. Chances are Mr. One-Night-Stand would also make a lousy father. Sorry to be cynical, but there it is.
posted by greengrl at 5:11 AM on August 8, 2002


"but I think it's every bit as irresponsible for women to have unprotected sex with men they don't know as it is for men.
"

Yeah .... those damned irresponsible women who are impregnanted during a rape, and don't forget those incest victims they mention. God, that really chafes me, those women who go out and get themselves raped, and then don't have the responsibility to get off their selfish asses and let their rapist know he is missing out on the miracle of birth with them.

ahem.

You don't know if they are irresponsible. All you really know is, birth control hasn't been invented that works 100%, and in the meantime, American Society loves to control women's sexual behaviour through the medium of shame.
posted by kristin at 5:17 AM on August 8, 2002


there are a lot of men who are willing to take care of their responsibilities, and they deserve to know they've brought a child into the world

if these men were so willing to be responsible, shouldn't they have made an effort to check up every so often (for roughly nine months) on the women they've had sex with to find out whether any of them are pregnant?


an unknowing father might resent his child being given to strangers

i say tough shit. if they couldn't bother to use a condom or check up on the women, knowing that they may have possibly fathered a child, then tough fucking shit for them. irresponsible behavior has consequences, and that's the one they get to bear.

responsibility issues aside, will there be an agency set up to investigate the information that women are having published? does knowing who the father is matter to Florida even when the father doesn't want to be involved? could the women just get a friend to say he's the father long enough for the adoption to go through (if so, let them all name me)? will men who've had sex with women that they no longer have contact with think to themselves, 'Hey, it's been about nine months since I had sex with that chick. I should check the Adoption Notifications to see if she's in there.'

i don't think anyone's sexual history should be published in the paper unless they're getting getting paid for it.
posted by tolkhan at 5:41 AM on August 8, 2002


As a card-carrying member of the male species and pro-choice supporter I'll say that there are heaping doses of irresponsibility to share all around. It's just as irresponsible for me to have unprotected sex as it would be for my partner. There is, and has been, a double standard for a very long time though. If I screw around, and people know about it, I'm charming, a ladies man, a stud. If a woman screws around she's a slut, whore, tramp. Look at World War II propaganda. The V women (I'm remembering the term from memory here, sorry if I got it wrong) were portrayed as loose disease carriers, but nothing was mentioned of the soldiers that helped spread diseases.

If I ever accidently have a child I hope that I'm man enough to accept the responsibility, whatever that responsibility is. It might be taking care of the child. It might be living with the fact my potential child was aborted. I'm pro-choice, but that doesn't mean that I would find it an easy thing to be a part of.

These laws in Florida have nothing to do with responsibility. There was already (in most cases) a lapse of responsibility that involved two people, a male and a female. Forcing one half of the equation to reveal her sexual history in public does nothing to erase this lapse of responsibility. It still happened. This is about inflicting the conservative/biblical ideal "males know best, women are inferior creatures" through legislation.

In some cases there irresponsibility statement doesn't hold true as well. As was already mentioned, there is rape, there is incest, birth control sometimes fails. In either case there's also the ability to be responsible enough to say "Somebody else would be a better mother to this child than I could at this point in time". It's taking this responsibility that these law makers wants to punish. Where's the other half of the legislation, the half that brings responsibility to males? Surely they'd want to force child support on the males listed as potential fathers?
posted by substrate at 5:47 AM on August 8, 2002


I was going to write what kristin said, as it seems most in this discussion have ignored that the cases in question involved rape, whether of adult women, abuse of children, or statutory rape.

I'm starting to wonder if it's laziness on the part of the Florida police and prosecutors' offices: do they expect the rapists to come forward and say "Yes, that's my child," so they can convict them? Or are they trying to coerce the victims into divulging the names of the men, such as in the case of incest, where the girl must know who did it to her?

I agree that there are too many sad situations where men have been cut out of the lives of the children, or don't even know they have them (I've seen this in my own extended family), but mothers and fathers are not equivalent. Perhaps people would like them equivalent in the eyes of the law, but biologically most of the responsibility rests with the birth mother.
posted by meep at 5:48 AM on August 8, 2002


most in this discussion have ignored that the cases in question involved rape,

is anyone arguing that it's ever good to make any type of birthing/adoption/abortion law restricting the options for a victim of rape or molestation? if not, why focus on the part we can all agree on?
posted by tolkhan at 6:26 AM on August 8, 2002


Maybe we're ignoring that these cases are rape-related because the original post doesn't mention it at all, and clearly has a different agenda?
posted by smackfu at 6:34 AM on August 8, 2002


or maybe the specific circumstances surrounding the pregnancy are irrelevant to the matter, therefore mentioning rape specifically is unnecessary. the article seems to at least imply that rape or consensual, this law applies to all women.

what agenda is there? and what do you mean 'these cases are rape-related'? which ones?
posted by tolkhan at 6:53 AM on August 8, 2002


will they publish their pictures along with the history?
posted by quonsar at 7:20 AM on August 8, 2002


if these men were so willing to be responsible, shouldn't they have made an effort to check up every so often (for roughly nine months) on the women they've had sex with to find out whether any of them are pregnant?

Huh? Oh, good one! That's one of the funniest things I've heard lately.. Check up on the woman for nine months... Haha!
posted by eas98 at 7:33 AM on August 8, 2002


For those of you who didn't scroll down in the article:

On July 24, [Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Peter] Blanc ruled the notification requirements were unconstitutional invasions of privacy of women who were forcibly sexually assaulted. But in all other cases, women who can't locate or don't know the birth father must take out newspaper notices, he found. That includes underage girls who willingly had sex but were not old enough to legally consent, Blanc ruled.

In other words, the requirement is no longer required in cases of rape, which is a start. It's still an unconscionable invasion of privacy in any case, and should be struck down, but let's not confuse things by assuming that "the cases in question involved rape."
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:39 AM on August 8, 2002


That includes underage girls who willingly had sex but were not old enough to legally consent, Blanc ruled.

Isn't the whole point of statutory rape that below a given age, your "willingness" to have sex is moot? Really poor legal analysis, especially for a judge.

Responsibility issues aside, has there been any consideration of:
[a] Liability for libel? Who verifies the information?
[b] Safety of the women? Say it's not a rape, but the father is married to someone else. The woman is forced to reveal their affair in the paper, and the father flies into a murderous rage.
[c] 5th Amendment rights? If the mother is of age, but the father is not, revealing this information is self-incrimination.
posted by mkultra at 7:53 AM on August 8, 2002


an unknowing father might resent his child being given to strangers


Actually the child is already being raised by a stranger. If the father doesn't know the woman he had sex with well enough to know that she got pregnant and had a baby, then that makes her a stranger to him.

I can understand the state enacting this law in attempt to circumvent all the legal hassles arising from biological fathers trying to claim their rights after adoption. But this is much too punitive against the mothers.

Perhaps we need to look into why these fathers are claiming their rights. Are there that many unmarried men who are demanding the casual fruit of their loins need to be raised by the biological mothers? Is it about money? Is it about pressure from other family members (for example the baby's paternal grandmother)? Is it about vindictiveness?

Possibly Florida needs to pass a different law, one that curtails the rights of the unwed, biological father after a certain period...such as thirty days after birth. This would at least allow adoptions to go through legally.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:01 AM on August 8, 2002


zarah said:

florida seems like one really crazy messed up place.

Z, it sure is. The largest selling specialty license plate here in the Sunshine State is an anti-abortion number bearing the legend "Choose Life." Proceeds from its sale are supposed to go to encourage adoption. Humiliating and degrading laws like this show the fraudulence of the claim that that "pro-life" equals "pro-adoption."
posted by rdone at 8:09 AM on August 8, 2002


So who did your mother have sex with?

One day the child grows up and decides to seek out information about his or her birth mother and with very little effort, ends up knowing more than most people would ever wish to know, about their mother’s private life.

This humiliating and intrusive law seems likely to result in some sort of social stigma being inflicted upon the adoptee as well as the mother. Where do the best interests of the child come into this?
posted by Tarrama at 8:35 AM on August 8, 2002


I thought that this was enacted to protect the adopting couples (or straight singles-it IS Florida!)--so that they would be safe from birth parents showing up after they thought they had safely gotten children....but it's totally unfair and a burden on any pregnant woman. Florida has an awful, awful foster-care system and this was seen to be promoting adoption and making easier (and less litigious) to adopt
posted by amberglow at 8:35 AM on August 8, 2002


oh, on second read--what secret said...
posted by amberglow at 8:37 AM on August 8, 2002


It's considered good form to read the linked article before you start ranting and raving. Rape victims aren't involved because "notification requirement unconstitutional in cases where women were forcibly raped". And victims of incest wouldn't be involved with this because "women who can’t locate or don’t know the birth father must take out newspaper notices", and an incest victim surely would know the birth father. This is a well intentioned law meant to protect children and adoptive parents from the horror which ensues years later when the birth father finds out and goes after them in court. Men may or may not be irresponsible assholes and women may or may not be lying, vindictive bitches, but neither are allowed to give away the others rights. On preview: "Possibly Florida needs to pass a different law, one that curtails the rights of the unwed, biological father after a certain period...such as thirty days after birth. This would at least allow adoptions to go through legally". I agree, and surely you are suggesting this loss of rights requires the *gentleman* be aware he is a biological father.
posted by Mack Twain at 8:52 AM on August 8, 2002


American Society loves to control women's sexual behavior through the medium of shame. --kristin

Genius sentence. Love that. Great meme.

I have so many issues with this law that I didn't even know where to begin. I tried fairly hard to not semantically load my FPP...but even with that, I think my sense of outrage is probably fairly apparent.

The issue of minors first: I really thought, although I'm having a difficult time finding case law to prove it, that minors enjoyed a certain higher level of privacy protection than did adults. For example, minor's names are not usually used in newspaper reports when they are the victim of a crime, such as rape or incest.

This law, however, would force a minor to publicly release incredibly private information just because she chose *NOT* to have an abortion, and instead chose to give another family the chance to raise a baby. How f*cked up is that?

In Florida, a minor may not get an abortion unless she's gone through the hoops of parental notification. Parents do have the right to stop a minor from getting an abortion...meaning that a minor could conceivably be *forced* into giving birth, forced into giving it up for adoption and forced into publishing her information in a public, searchable, permanent record...as newspapers are microfiched for ever. (So much for adoption confidentiality, no?)

I realize that this next sentence is rather dramatic...even for me, but really...how many girls are going to try suicide or home-made abortions before they put themselves through all of that nonsense?

The situation is different, but not significantly better for women of "cross the state line" age. Assuming you have the money to get the hell out of Florida to either give birth or have an abortion, the law "theoretically" follows you if you chose to give the child up for adoption and your still supposed to post public notices that you've given birth and there was this guy involved 9 months before.

Assuming a women may have the financial resources to go to another state for an abortion is a huge assumption in and of itself. I think we can safely assume that most women, when finding themselves with child, do not have the resources to relocate just so they can give birth.

This law is morally reprehensible, tactically unsound, draconian and possibly unconstitutional. It puts the rights of biological sperm donors above the rights of the woman who carries and gives birth to the issue of that donation...which is absurd.

Speaking as a 6 month pregnant woman, no man can ever understand what it is to feel a life quickening inside you...how many sleepless nights you spend thinking about what's best for that child, the fluttering of their first kicks, the stretch marks, the morning sickness...and really...I'm guessing this part...but probably the agony of giving birth. (I've seen videos...it looks a tad painful. ouchies.)

I'm fortunate that with this pregnancy, I'm older, I'm stable, I'm financially prepared (well, as prepared as I'm ever going to get), I'm in a loving, long term marriage and we want this baby more than anything else in the world.

But for many woman, they don't have those advantages...and yet some of those women rise above their own needs, and with dignity and honor, carry a child to full term so that they can give joy to another family by letting them raise their little miracle.

Those women should be venerated, not abused. They should be able to walk through life knowing that they did a good thing, a selfless thing, a noble thing...not forced to publish their histories as though they were signing up for the Jerry Springer show.

This is not Victorian England, it isn't Puritan America anymore and the Nathaniel Hawthorne's of the world need to put away their stones and their scarlet letters and mind their own gardens instead of trying to tend their neighbor's.
posted by dejah420 at 8:53 AM on August 8, 2002


the family courts in the US have been raping fathers since the late 60's. and as many pro bono hours as i have given to trying to protect fathers getting screwed out of their children, i am still appalled by this. it's noble end (protecting men who might want--or are able--to raise the children women don't--or aren't), but this is the singlemost assbackwards way of doing it i can think of.

anyone know of an illinois organization that's planning to get in on an amicus? i've got some hours i can give to it.

(oh, and whoever wondered where the interest of the child is: it's in allowing the biological father the opportunity to raise his child. the law will not allow termination of parental rights--either that of the pregnant woman (either a biological mother or a surrogate one--or that of the putative father--prior to live birth. when a woman gives up a child for adoption, the father's rights must also be terminated. if she chooses to terminate hers, and give the baby up, he must also give up his or the baby cannot be adopted by anyone. custody reverts to the father, where the law says it belongs--and i agree--until he is demonstrated unfit and proceedings to terminate his rights against his wishes are completed. this, under the law, is considered in the best interests of the child. when it is determined that either--or both--parent(s) are unfit, it becomes in the best interests of the child to terminate parental rights and allow adoption)
posted by crush-onastick at 9:24 AM on August 8, 2002


i'm surprised that the men jumping on the "men's rights" bandwagon haven't realized the violation of the rights of the males who are named in the ad. i mean, for god's sake, what if a man is named as a potential father and it turns out that he isn't really the father? think of the men!
posted by witchstone at 9:41 AM on August 8, 2002


Wow, men on one side...women on the other. Interesting to see how differently we think on this subject.

On the one hand, I can appreciate that men want to know if they are fathers and have the opportunity to be involved. I suppose it is their "right."

However, so so so many women are left behind when they get pregnant by men who aren't committed to them. Everyone knows a women or two who got pregnant accidentally, for whatever reason, then told the guy and was first asked "How you do know it's mine? " (read: You slut) and then are basically left alone to raise the child.

There's just no comparison with men and women and child raising/bearing. Women have to deal with the consequences of irresponsibility no matter what. Be it carrying to term/adoption or abortion-no picnic-either of them. Men don't have to deal with shit if they don't want to. They can basically pay the women off with "child support" and walk away if they so desire.

If there was some way to equally shame and humiliate the men, I still wouldn't be for it. But I think that men have to realize that women usually come out with the short end of the stick when it comes to accidental pregnancies. If they know who the father is, they should tell. But if they don't, that's their business and no law in the world should force them to do that publically.
posted by aacheson at 9:46 AM on August 8, 2002


Apropos to this discussion, Slate columnist Dahlia Lithwick has just written another smart legal analysis, this time dealing with the PA case of a father trying to prevent the mother from having an abortion, and the well-intentioned futility of trying to legislate the "rights of the father" into an abortion decision.
posted by mkultra at 9:56 AM on August 8, 2002


This law is morally reprehensible, tactically unsound, draconian and possibly unconstitutional.

I think that pretty much sums it up.
posted by adampsyche at 10:02 AM on August 8, 2002


I have no idea if this is necessary or not, but can it just be said that, for the record, women are perfecty capable of walking right the fuck out of their kids lives as well? Sure, it may not happen as often, but it happened to me and a few others I know. Though the biology of child-birth is different between the sexes, selfishness and irresponsibility are equal-opportunity characteristics.
posted by adampsyche at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2002


"It's considered good form to read the linked article before you start ranting and raving. Rape victims aren't involved because "notification requirement unconstitutional in cases where women were forcibly raped". "

Rape victims are as involved as any other woman, because now they will be forced to legally proved that they have been raped in order to get out of printing the information surrounding their rape in their local paper.

Who do they have to prove that to, exactly? Do they get to go to court and argue it in front of a judge, in order to be excused from this whole sordid mess? Do only reported rapes count, and women too uncomfortable with the legal process of reporting the crime get to choose between pursuing it in the legal system or sucking it up and publishing the account in the paper?

As for incest victims, it affects them as well, since the majority of underage women raped by family members do not report the crime. So, if a 14 year old girl turns up pregnant and opts to carry it to term, she, like the rape victim, either has to prove her daddy did it, or publish an account in the paper.

So, pregnant women have a few options - and no one single woman considering adoption has any privacy with this ruling, since I can either read her sexual history in the paper, or, if her history wasn't reported, I get to know that either her Daddy impregnated her, or a rapist did.
posted by kristin at 10:10 AM on August 8, 2002


amen, adam.
posted by witchstone at 10:12 AM on August 8, 2002


Yes, Adam. Of course it's possible. But it doesn't happen nearly as much as the opposite. You and I know it.
posted by aacheson at 10:19 AM on August 8, 2002


Of course it's possible.

No, it's not just possible, it happens.

Sure, it may not happen as often,

I seem to see your point.
posted by adampsyche at 10:21 AM on August 8, 2002


I understand the guys' feelings on this. I really do. But I just feel that since it's women's bodies, men just don't have much say at all. That's just the way it is. Just as men have the right to walk out and ignore the pregnancy and women can't, thus women have the right to do what they want when they're pregnant.
I wish everyone would take responsiblity and not be selfish or irresponsible, but it doesn't happen that way. And since biology has dictated that women carry the burden, they also carry the rights. Unfair to men, yes. But unfair to women, as well, to make them do something they don't want with their bodies. Or to publically humiliate themselves (because listing your sex partners for women is a public humiliation because women "shouldn't" sleep around.")

PS-I didn't get the link...
posted by aacheson at 10:24 AM on August 8, 2002


for the record, aacheson, i'm a woman.

i think this law is bad bad bad, but i expend a great deal of energy trying to protect men whose girlfriends, wives, casual sex partners, whatever, try to keep them out of the decision of what to do with a pregnancy or baby.

if she choses to abort or not abort, that's one decision, and in that decision her right trumps. if she choses to carry to term, but doesn't want to raise the baby, that's her decision, but it doesn't trump his rights with regard to who does raise the baby.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:30 AM on August 8, 2002


I agree, crush-onastick. But how do we get him to know about the pregnancy without a horrible law like this? If she wants nothing more to do with him (i.e.-in these situations the guys usually only find out when the moms want child support. If they don't-the men never find out) then how do we give men rights without taking them away from women?
posted by aacheson at 10:40 AM on August 8, 2002


if she choses to abort or not abort, that's one decision, and in that decision her right trumps.

Sounds good to me. Wasn't there a ruling in PA yesterday to this effect?

Link was to my comment earlier, when I said that I know it doesn't happen as often.
posted by adampsyche at 10:40 AM on August 8, 2002


Is there not some way that a woman can be required to tell a man if she is pregnant with his child without publishing it in the newspaper? Certified Mail? I mean, who on earth would read the newspaper, scanning for offspring?
posted by adampsyche at 10:52 AM on August 8, 2002


I mean, who on earth would read the newspaper, scanning for offspring?

Just put it below the box scores...
posted by mkultra at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2002


Slate columnist Dahlia Lithwick has just written another smart legal analysis, this time dealing with the PA case of a father trying to prevent the mother from having an abortion, and the well-intentioned futility of trying to legislate the "rights of the father" into an abortion decision.


More news on that later the same day. The judge did overturn the ruling that barred her from the abortion, although even if he hadn't, it wouldn't have made a difference.
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:20 AM on August 8, 2002


adampsyche - the people who would end up reading the paper are the same people who read the obituaries every day...just to make sure they're not in them.

The old people. You know, the voting public of Florida!

I sure wouldn't want my grandma reading who I had sex with...even if it is the law.

Has anyone discussed how Florida expects to enforce this law?
posted by MeetMegan at 11:22 AM on August 8, 2002


I bet that if there was a section in the local newspaper where new mothers had to announce their bastard children there would be a large number of readers. I can just see aunt Sally calling her nephew: "I just read that little tramp Mary Jane had a baby. Didn't you bring her to the family barbecue about 9 months ago?"

The impact this would have on small towns in Florida would be amazing! For the record, I think this law stinks.
posted by whatever at 11:26 AM on August 8, 2002


I guess I can see the sense in trying to contact the father, except in the cases of abuse or other illegal actions. On the other hand, certainly there are better ways to go about this than using the newspaper as a public pillory. For one thing, how many people are really going to read the adoption notices on a day-to-day basis? How many women are going to provide this information if it will go into the public record? And how many men are going to come forward? I suspect that this law should be successfully challenged by both single mothers and the potential fathers named. Going to the newspapers just seems like an unnecessary and ineffective step that is unlikely to be much more effective than using the phone book.

On the other hand, I feel very frustrated with the double standard that if a woman becomes pregnant it is a careless act, while if a man gets a woman pregnant it is a reasonable act. The men's rights activists want it both ways, both to be absolved of responsibility of the are not informed, while at the same time demanding extensive rights in spite of an apparent lack of interest. At which point I like to say that we are in the 21st century here. If men do not want to be placed in a dubious position in regards to their offspring, perhaps they should take measures to ensure that they don't become surprised by fatherhood.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:52 AM on August 8, 2002


Lordy, lordy, lordy. So many thoughts all running around.

First of all, regarding the idea that since it's women's bodies, men don't get a say. Well, that's fine. Just allow men to get paper abortions to even it up; let a man write off his responsibilities including financial, c.f. many recent articles about child support and paternity) and in return lose all rights to the child. If the idea of this bothers you, then you reallly need to sit down and think about how equal men and women really are... men are the big losers in the child debate.

Second, regarding the "embarrassment and shame" factor that so many people are hung up on. Why is this considered bad, and yet newspapers publish the names of men who are accused of child molestation and/or rape. This typically leads to a destruction of the man's life, even if he is acquitted. Why is it okay to smear a man's name to try and protect a woman, but not the converse? Of course, according to radical feminism, the fact that a woman has tons of unprotected sex and doesn't know who the father is is actually one of the tools for destroying the patriarchy, and thus a good thing.

Third, while I applaud the intent of the bill, I think its execution is flawed. I can't think of a truly good way to approach this problem, but this isn't the best way at all.

Finally, both the NPR story this morning and several comments appear to belittle the idea that a man could actually have an interest in a child even if the female doesn't. Talk about sexist! But our society is so misandrous, it's taken for granted that the idea is a little bit funny. Women carry babies, so they should make the decisions? They are better caretakers? Hell, women initiate half of all domestic violence, are the most likely to abuse their own children (over fathers, stepfathers, and/or significant others), and initiate over 70% of all divorces. And except for very few cases, you can no longer make the false claim that a divorce is in the best interest of a child, especially in the light of new research demonstrating that married people are happier and wealthier than single people, that divorce typically causes previously unknown major mid-life problems for the children, that people who stay together in a rough marriage are happier 5 years later than those who divorced, and that fatherlessness is the major factor in predicting crime, drug and alcohol use, sexual misbehavior, and a host of other things.

In any case, forcing a child to publicize their sexual history is a bad idea. There's gotta be a better way.l
posted by hurkle at 11:56 AM on August 8, 2002


Let's not stop with newspapers, people!! Let's have a TV channel devoted to publicizing these pregnant women's sexual histories! Skywriting! Bus ads! Ads in toilet stalls! Ads on condom machines! On the backs of milk cartons! Think of the possibilities...

Have you had sex with this woman?
If so, call 1-800 I AM A DAD

posted by jennak at 12:04 PM on August 8, 2002


hurkle: sources?
posted by tolkhan at 12:31 PM on August 8, 2002


hurkle, while I'm glad you see the law for the piece of dung that it is, your logic is way way off. A few examples:

Just allow men to get paper abortions to even it up; let a man write off his responsibilities including financial, c.f. many recent articles about child support and paternity) and in return lose all rights to the child

And how, then, would the mother raise the child without any money? Get a job? Then who raises the kid? As much as most men would love this law, I don't see how this will "even it up".

Why is this considered bad, and yet newspapers publish the names of men who are accused of child molestation and/or rape.

Well aside from the bogus logic of "you believe A, A is like B, you therefore must believe B", there's a big difference in that the people you refer to have been accused of a crime. Fathering a child and disappearing makes you a scumbag, not a criminal.

Of course, according to radical feminism, the fact that a woman has tons of unprotected sex and doesn't know who the father is is actually one of the tools for destroying the patriarchy, and thus a good thing.

What? Who? Please, show me one credible author who makes this claim. That sounds like something Bill O'Reilly would say.

Hell, women initiate half of all domestic violence, are the most likely to abuse their own children (over fathers, stepfathers, and/or significant others)

You're not looking at the statistic in the context of (a) there are far more single mothers than single fathers and (b) mothers tend to be around kids and generally responsible for them much more than fathers in a two-parent household. Circumstances alone would account for those numbers.
posted by mkultra at 12:33 PM on August 8, 2002


i think this situation can be negative in more ways then one. other then the ways already mentioned (and if this has been mentioned, you'll have to forgive me......i had 65 comments to wade through and was really only able to skim), i would think this would be bad for the child in question. imagine if you were adoptive parents looking for a prospective child and you read the mother's history of man after man after man, would you still want to adopt the child? i would hope it wouldn't effect the decision since i'd think most people who are looking to adopt a child would want to take them away from that type of lifestyle. but the possibility of that type of impact on the adoption of the child would be more of a possibility in this case.
posted by reb at 12:47 PM on August 8, 2002


hurkle: "Hell, women initiate half of all domestic violence [!] are the most likely to abuse* their own children ..."

If you want me to take you seriously, show me where your information [ *& definitions] comes from. Otherwise, your post is NOT constructive, thoughtful, rational or valuable.

posted by dash_slot- at 1:19 PM on August 8, 2002


I think that men get the short end of the stick for a reason. And not just because we hate them.

Women have the right to abort a fetus. It's her body, she has that right. Once she decides to allow the fetus to become a child, that child has rights. One that guarantees the child to have a father (or a child support check in lieu of one).

I'd be in favor of paternal rights that expire if neither the father or mother try and assert them within [x] months. If that child is being put up for adoption, it should be given the opportunity to be put up for adoption expeditiously. Otherwise it isn't going to get the best home, and we're all trying to do what's best for the child.
posted by witchycal at 1:30 PM on August 8, 2002


What would be almost nice would be if just the man's name was in the paper, and there was just a number for a government office. Of course none of this actually improves anything, but it would be less shameful for the women.

Looking at all of this fuss...I really wish they had external wombs available. Man wants the child, women doesn't, just put in the artificial womb, and it's his problem.
posted by stoneegg21 at 2:32 PM on August 8, 2002


What would be almost nice would be if just the man's name was in the paper, and there was just a number for a government office
The problem with that suggestion is that then there are public names of men who have had sex, and that's not right, either.
posted by aacheson at 2:43 PM on August 8, 2002


mkultra: Good point about the fact that forcing a woman to reveal her sexual past could violate 5th Amendment rights, especially considering that both adultery and sex outside of marriage are illegal in Florida (or at least the statutes could be construed that way.) When the inevitable higher court decision strikes this law down, it could very well end up being on these grounds.

This, of course, raises the issue of whether such a law would be constitutionally allowed in a state where such acts are not illegal...
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:49 PM on August 8, 2002


mkultra-

you got me thinking:

Just allow men to get paper abortions to even it up; let a man write off his responsibilities including financial, c.f. many recent articles about child support and paternity) and in return lose all rights to the child

And how, then, would the mother raise the child without any money? Get a job? Then who raises the kid? As much as most men would love this law, I don't see how this will "even it up".


So let me get this straight... it's okay for a woman to not want to be a mother and deny a man the right to be a father (through abortion - with all its attendant moral ambiguity), but its not okay for a man to not want to be a father? That it's okay for a man to have no power over his child's possible adoption, surname, or abortion, while a woman has the power to take a cut of his income for the next 18 years? Who's going to raise the child? The woman who is choosing to head a single parent household.

Only a woman can choose to be a single parent--but for every woman who makes that choice there exists a man who is denied the choice of marriage and family.

Of course, according to radical feminism, the fact that a woman has tons of unprotected sex and doesn't know who the father is is actually one of the tools for destroying the patriarchy, and thus a good thing.

What? Who? Please, show me one credible author who makes this claim. That sounds like something Bill O'Reilly would say.


It may sound conservative, but that doesn't mean it isn't true:

Feminist Hazel Henderson writes a piece titled "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally," in which she complains of "fathers who refuse to pay their child support payments ordered by courts." In the same column of the same page she rejoices thus over the success of the sexual/feminist revolution:

"Yet the genie will not go back in the bottle--the cultural revolution has already occurred. Politics only ratifies social change after at least a ten year lag. Even more terrifying for the old patriarchs and their female dupes is the knowledge that the whole culture is "up for grabs." For example, it could shift fundamentally in less than a generation IF women simply took back their reproductive rights, endowed by biology and Nature. All that women would need to do to create a quiet revolution is to resume the old practice of keeping the paternity of their children a secret."

Lesbian feminist Susan Cavin proposes using the first law of matriarchy as a means of destroying patriarchy and liberating women:

Collective refusal of women to tell men who is the "father" of their children; this could be accomplished by the simple method of hetero-females never sleeping with only one man for any length of time, but always having two or more male lovers. This method is based on the assumption that mass high rates of "illegitimacy" will destroy the patrilineal family, especially its monogamian form.

As far as domestic violence, at least you are willing to look at the statistics, unlike dash_slot, for whom this link is posted:

http://www.unh.edu/news/Jul02/em_20020730dating_violence.html : women as likely as men to initiate DV. dash_slot, FYI, most research done within the last 10-15 years indicates that women and men fight a lot, and that not all women are victims, and not all men are oppressors. And thanks for suggesting I'm a troll. I'm not, just someone who's been involved with our divorce/dv/child custody money-making corporation here in the US, and who likes to speak up for men's rights occasionally.

I appreciate mkultra's point about why the statistics on DV might be skewed. I shall seriously take a look into that and see if there's truth to your point. It's a good one.

Finally, here's some more links for thought on this with a few statistics too:

Marriage better than singlism:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?thesection=news&thesubsection=&storyID=2098167
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=573&ncid=573&e=2&u=/nm/20020712/od_nm/divorce_dc_1

Media and society accepts violence against women:
http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/ewen/news_ewen_0207068410.html

Fatherlessness not good for families:
http://www.fatherville.com/newspro/viewnews.cgi?newsid1024323903,84321,
http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/stories/wallace070402.htm

Ta...
posted by hurkle at 3:15 PM on August 8, 2002


dash_slot:

women can be as aggressive as men... this bibliography might open your eyes a little.
posted by hurkle at 3:18 PM on August 8, 2002


hurkle: sources?
posted by tolkhan at 12:31 PM PST on August 8
- not for you!

Circumstances alone would account for those numbers.
posted by mkultra at 12:33 PM PST on August 8
- or you!
Am reading the links now..
posted by dash_slot- at 3:45 PM on August 8, 2002


Only a woman can choose to be a single parent--but for every woman who makes that choice there exists a man who is denied the choice of marriage and family.

WHaaaaaaaat?!?! Are you suggesting that by impregnating a woman, a man has a right to marry her?

Um, to put it mildly, NO.

I agree that the problem of how to best ensure that children are cared for adequately is immense, and that any solutions we've got now are only partial and have a lot of problems.

That said, I think history is littered with countless examples of men who could have but chose not to care for the results of their dalliances. By and large it's the women and even more so, the children, who have suffered from this behavior.

In modern times we at least have the ability to definitively determine paternity through DNA tests, and compel at least child support payments through the law. Is this abused sometimes? Yes. It's not perfect, but I would argue that it's quite a lot better than what came before it (women being left to deal with the consequences completely on their own).

Is it a bit creepy that a woman can abort a child even when the father would willingly raise it entirely himself? Yes. But compelling a woman to bear a child she does not wish to is even worse - childbirth carries serious risks of injury and even death, don't forget.

And when it comes down to it, the man's input to the equation consists of a single sperm which forms half of the building plans for the parasite that dwells within her body. The risks and burdens of continuing the pregnancy on his side are NIL, but on her side they are huge. And the field of dispute resides within her body, which by basic human rights must remain under her own control.

Is it bad that some women adopt away a man's child, without giving him the opportunity to step in and parent the child? Yes. But I agree with what some people have stated in this thread - if a guy is so amazingly willing to be a father, he should keep track of the women he might be impregnating. If it's important enough to him and he manages to choose women who want nothing to do with him within a month of having sex, why can't he hire a private investigator, or a lawyer to keep track of upcoming potential adoptions or something?

And come on - why don't these super-fathers tell the women in advance: "by the way, if you become pregnant and don't want to keep the baby - tell me, because I'll gladly raise the child myself". Seems a reasonable thing to do if being a father means so bloody much to them.

Come to think of it, something really horribly creepy occurred to me - it would be trivially easy for a guy to use a woman as an unwilling surrogate. All he has to do is impregnate a woman that he knows isn't in a position to rase a child herself, and who is against abortion.

All he would have to do is knock her up, then wait until the baby's born and make his claim and take the child. As a bonus, he could even stick *her* with child support payments, if he played his cards right.

Ew. Even thinking about it makes me feel dirty. I mean, at least surrogates are *compensated* for the risk they undergo, and what they give up.

I guess we reap what we sow, when we continue to glorify sex as a consequence-free funfest in popular culture and at the same time limit what children can be taught in school about how sex works and what the consequences are *really* like (death or massive suffering from STD's, heartbreak, children (and quarrels over them)).

Sexual organs should be licensed like the weapons they are. Sigh. Maybe when I run the world...
posted by beth at 4:14 PM on August 8, 2002


hurkle: I don't know what unfounded assumptions you are working under, but is one of them that I don't believe women can be violent? Or is it that maybe I haven't experienced female-to-male domestic violence? You'd be wrong on both counts.
I doubted that women are responsible for initiating half of all known domestic violence. I am still waiting for that precise citation: however, it's probably derailing this post to expand on it here, so I invite you either to make a Post to Mefi on that topic, or to email me with more (as the material supplied is ambiguous, lengthy and dense: in some places, meta-analysis of meta-analysis.) One excerpt, early in the UNH article (Male and Female College Students in Mexico and the U.S. Are Equally Violent to Dating partners, UNH Expert Says):
"A focus on protesting and assisting female victims must remain a priority," he says. "In many societies women lack full economic, social, political and human rights. In such cultural contexts, equality for women needs to be given priority as an even more fundamental aspect of the prevention of intimate partner violence."

Your last link also is ambivalent: women can be as aggressive as men...
says, amongst other things, "...In terms of injuries, women were somewhat more likely to be injured, and analyses reveal that 62% of those injured were women.) - Archer, J. (2000)."

My point that you fail to do other than assert abuse by women "...women are the most likely to abuse their own children (over fathers, stepfathers, and/or significant others)" stands: if 'abuse' encompasses neglect, violence, emotional abuse and sexual abuse in one phrase, it becomes nearly meaningless. Please back it up, or clarify, or separate the elements.

mkultra makes a lot of good points, I agree, and I will also be giving those angles more thought.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:25 PM on August 8, 2002


Beth-

Sarcasm is most frequently used when the speaker feels personally attacked and defensive, and has no facts to back up their comments...

No, I'm not claiming that impregnating a woman gives me the right to marry her. I'm claiming that in today's pro-feminist-agenda society, a woman has the right to: choose to have an abortion or not, choose whether to put a child up for adoption or not, choose whether to give the child their father's last name or not, choose whether to finger a man as the "sperm donor" or not, and choose whether to raise that child alone or not (though the fact that her income will be greatly augmented by the "sperm donor"s indentured servitude kind of defeats the meaning of alone).

On the other hand the man has the right to... uh.... hmmm... by golly, a man has no rights when it comes to a child.

Your suggestion about the men keeping track of their partners - just in case one of them gets pregnant - is priceless. Lest ye forget, this whole thread was precipitated by a discussion about what is happening to women who don't know who the father is. Your solution, like many legal solutions existing today, is to make that the man's responsibility.

I'm curious how you feel about the current spate of paternity fraud suits in America. Cases where a woman lied to her significant other about his paternity, and he ends up paying child support for a kid that - years later - is proved not to be his. Current American law says that the man has to keep paying, even though there is NOTHING about that situation that is his fault. If you think he should keep paying, think about the fact that his income with a new family is reduced, giving any new children less of a good life; his relationship with the child newly revealed not to be his is irreparably damaged; and there are absolutely no consequences to the female. Fair?

As far as compelling a woman to have a baby against her wishes - I didn't ever say that. I said men should be able to get paper abortions if women can get real ones. Much different.

You make a good comment about sex begin taught on two levels: first, that we don't talk about it, and second, that everyone's doing it and it's okay. I find common ground with you here, and hope you don't take offense at that ;-)
posted by hurkle at 4:34 PM on August 8, 2002


hurkle: So let me get this straight... it's okay for a woman to not want to be a mother and deny a man the right to be a father (through abortion - with all its attendant moral ambiguity), but its not okay for a man to not want to be a father?

You can not want all you want, you're still the father of that child and you're still obligated to it.

That it's okay for a man to have no power over his child's possible adoption, surname, or abortion, while a woman has the power to take a cut of his income for the next 18 years? Who's going to raise the child? The woman who is choosing to head a single parent household.

Or maybe she's got a life with someone else? Besides, the money is for the child, not her.

I have no idea who those authors are, honestly, but I don't doubt your sources. My thoughts? Fringe political views that make conventient straw (wo)men.

As a guy, I do personally feel that we have, ultimately, less say in the child's fate than the mother. But hey, that's one of the prices we pay for living in the society we do. Wear a goddamn condom, and don't fuck and run.
posted by mkultra at 5:01 PM on August 8, 2002


Hmmm, in Florida a woman has to put an ad in the paper if she doesn't know who the father of her child is, before puttin git up for adoption. In Iowa, Planned Parenthood was ordered to turn over nine months of pregnancy test results (thoughthey have been granted a temporary stay). 42 states require parental notification for abortions for minors. Contraceptives are frequently excluded from insurance coverage. Congress is pushing abstinence-only sex ed. Bush re-instated the "gag rule" for international family planning almost immediately upon entering office.

You've come a long way, baby.
posted by kayjay at 5:37 PM on August 8, 2002


Sarcasm is most frequently used when the speaker feels personally attacked and defensive, and has no facts to back up their comments...

Are you proclaiming to diagnose me psychologically? Please refrain from ad-hoc attacks (however subtle and implied) - some of us here would like to discuss the issues at hand.

I said men should be able to get paper abortions if women can get real ones.

... in other words, sending us back to the ages where men could cut and run, and the woman and child were completely on their own. Lovely.

The time for a man to decide whether he wants to be a father is *before* he lets the sperm out of his body and into a woman's. Sperm are dangerous - it only takes one to pull the guy into indentured servitude for eighteen years. A man should treat such dangerous items with the respect they deserve, no?

You make a good comment about sex begin taught on two levels: first, that we don't talk about it, and second, that everyone's doing it and it's okay.

Um, I said neither of those things.

I said that children are taught by popular culture that sex is a consequence-free funfest, and that serious discussion about the true nature and dangers of sex is given short shrift. (well, typically - some places have better sex ed than others. It depends on how much the "abstinence only" idiots have control over the curriculum, etc).

Please in the future refer to what people actually say. Thank you.

To correct what you attributed to me:

People don't talk about sex? We (adults) talk about it all the time. It's children that don't usually get the straight story. They need to have adequate knowledge beforehand, so that they will be less likely to end up pregnant (or fathers), or sick, or dead.

Everyone's doing it? Um, nuns aren't. The "saving it for marriage" crowd isn't. People who prefer masturbation aren't. Asexual people aren't. I certainly wouldn't proclaim something so patently false.

It's okay? Well, I don't know if I'd go that far. In an ideal world, all sex would be good sex (or at least okay sex). We're far from that. I see sex being used as a weapon, or just wantonly, and little respect for the true power and danger of it. Sure, there are exceptions.

But the whole point of this thread is that sex is going on in ways that it shouldn't be - resulting in pregnancy when the father isn't known, or when he desires a different outcome to the pregnancy than the mother does.

Personally, I believe that questions of what should happen with a potential pregnancy should be asked and answered by *both* parties before sex takes place (especially if no birth control is used).

No one's perfect (including me), but I think it's a good goal, nonetheless. Would you suggest that such questions are unimportant, or that it's perfectly fine to not consider them until the woman shows up pregnant (or not)?
posted by beth at 5:48 PM on August 8, 2002


Dejah420 said: Those women should be venerated, not abused. They should be able to walk through life knowing that they did a good thing, a selfless thing, a noble thing...not forced to publish their histories as though they were signing up for the Jerry Springer show.

As an adoptive mother twice over, I cannot tell you how much I agree. If there were a pedestal upon which I could put the women who birthed my children, I would carry them on my backs to the base and let them step on my head as they climbed up.

Beth said: The time for a man to decide whether he wants to be a father is *before* he lets the sperm out of his body and into a woman's. Sperm are dangerous - it only takes one to pull the guy into indentured servitude for eighteen years. A man should treat such dangerous items with the respect they deserve, no?

That's still a double standard, though, Beth. I mean, what would you say if someone said:

"The time for a woman to decide whether she wants to be a mother is *before* she lets the sperm into her body from the man's. Sperm are dangerous - it only takes one to pull the woman into indentured servitude for eighteen years. A woman should treat such dangerous items with the respect they deserve, no?"

Not only would that raise screeches of "Oh, oppression! Ridiculous, untenable standards!" it wouldn't be valid in the face of current law. A man has to decide about parenthood before he has sex -- and you're right, he truly does, because once he has sex, all decisions are out of his hands. A woman can decide after she's become pregnant, and again after she gives birth, if she gives birth. And any choice that she makes has the potential to work in complete and diametric opposition to his interests and desires, and he has no recourse.

The pro-choice position is often couched in terms of "control." Women should be free to have complete, autonomous control over their own bodies. But with that control, they also are given control over the lives of the men that they claim are the fathers of their children - even, in some cases, when those men are later proven not to have fathered the children in question at all.

Why am I rehashing this? Because this goes hand in hand with laws like this abomination of a statute in Florida. We are in a place where the issues of parenthood and parental responsibilities have no happy and fair mediums.

As we go too far in favour of the interests of one party in one area, we go too far in opposition to that party's interests in another -- until there is overall balance, we will continue to run headlong into the problem of reactionary legislation which is meant to provide redress and instead simply provides more controversy and complication. The entire "system" is fairly well broken, and laws like this are ill-placed patches, instead of the overhauls and complete revolutions that we so sorely need.

Or so says my rational side. My knee-jerk, emotional, arch-conservative side says that these kinds of issues are among the very obvious reasons why most major religions prohibit or counsel strongly against pre- or extra-marital sex, and perhaps they were on to something there.
posted by Dreama at 10:05 PM on August 8, 2002


Why am I rehashing this? Because this goes hand in hand with laws like this abomination of a statute in Florida. We are in a place where the issues of parenthood and parental responsibilities have no happy and fair mediums.

Why do I feel that I'm the only one that is read the article in question? The issue here is not about informing the potential father vs. not informing the potential father. The law requires the background checks and investigations in order to contact the potential fathers. What is the concern here is whether this investigation should be made a part of the public record through publication in the newspaper. While I certainly agree that some effort should be made to contact potential fathers, I feel that process is already well covered without going to the newspaper.

There is also another factor involved here which is that there seems to be more of a focus on using the law to make up for a relative lack of sexual ethics. Perhaps I am a little bit jaded having missed the sexual revolution and growing up in the age of the plague, but this is the 21st century already. If someone does not want to be a parent, the technology is readily available. Furthermore, do I really need to say that it is more than possible to have mind-blowing sex while avoiding the risk of pregnancy?

I also must admit that I have a tough time feeling sorry for these men given that the current social reality is that the vast majority of the times the woman gets stuck with both the kid and the bills.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:36 AM on August 9, 2002


Yahoo for controversy!!!
Local newspapers? What kind of medieval thought would protest such a public stoning as this? This is an outrageous insult to privacy and confidentiality! I'm not saying that a man should not have the right to know if he has impregnated a partner, but sheesh! Welcoming the media is advocating public shaming, ridicule and possibly harm to a vulnerable individual.
posted by Quixoticlife at 6:46 PM on August 11, 2002


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