How do you like your eggs? Easy over or fertilised?
October 1, 2003 5:11 AM   Subscribe

Two women have just lost their right to use frozen embryos from IVF treatment while they were in previous relationships because UK law states that both parties must give consent before embryos can be emplanted.

The women are claiming it's a breach of thier human rights. The men claim that they shouldn't be forced to have children. The London Fertility Centre claims double standards because they would have the right if it was naturally conceived. But what's your opinon?
posted by twine42 (60 comments total)
Unfortunately, British law requires that the father of a child be named and the governmental Child Support Agency can force him to pay money towards the maintenance and upkeep of the kids until they've finished university, regardless of the mother's wishes.

So, if this were me, even though I'd have no wish to deprive someone I'd once loved of their last chance for a child, I too would withold my consent; a personal tragedy for the woman, but it would be a tragedy for my current family if I were forced to pay hundreds of pounds a month in child support.

Guess that makes me a fascist, right?
posted by Pericles at 5:42 AM on October 1, 2003

British law requires that the father of a child be named and the governmental Child Support Agency can force him to pay money towards the maintenance and upkeep of the kids until they've finished university, regardless of the mother's wishes.

So how does this law affect things like sperm banks/artificial insemination? Is it not possible for the prospective mother to simply become "anonymously pregnant" as it is in the states?
posted by anastasiav at 5:48 AM on October 1, 2003

I assume that sperm banks and the like automatically disqualify the mother from maintainence, but no idea what appears on the birth certificate. For other forms of anonymous pregnancies (ie, drunkeness) if the CSA feels the mother isn't helping them to find the father then they can stop her child benefits (IIRC).

The biggest problem to my mind is that the men are being forced into a sexual situation some time after they have had kids. It's his kid, and he would obviously have a moral and emotional to a kid that he didn't want with a woman he split from many years before. Sounds way too fucked up to me.
posted by twine42 at 5:54 AM on October 1, 2003

I seem to remeber that here in the UK the right to anonymity of a sperm bank donor may not be as sacrosanct as once presumed. It seems that in the future a child of a donor may acquire the legal right to find out who their biological father is (although I presume this would be preceded by a lengthy court case(s)).

Regarding this particular case the crux of the problem seems to be the invioable right of the father to veto any attempt to implant the fertilised egg, this was set out in a contractural agreement which was signed prior to the commencement of the IVF treatment.

- Do people have a right to have kids, personally I don't think so.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:03 AM on October 1, 2003

"what's your opinon?"

My opinion is that people should spend less time developing new ways to bring babies into the world and more time caring for the babies already here.

"Adopt a special child. They grow up to be special people." - Dave Thomas
posted by ZachsMind at 6:05 AM on October 1, 2003

I sort of agree with johnnyboy, in that I don't believe that anyone should have a "right" to procreate. I further think that in an overpopulated world filled with debilitating diseases, IVF is a waste of money. But I'm wierd like that.

Given that nobody agrees with me, we find ourselves in a wierd situation technologically, whereby insemination may be disconnected temporally from ejaculation, and in the future may not even depend on an ejaculation event (i.e. cloning). I find it difficult to form a generalised moral judgement here, because of my aforementioned prejudice.

However, I think Pericles nailed the rights and wrongs of this particular case with the CSA angle.
posted by walrus at 6:17 AM on October 1, 2003

I really can't see what right they have to become pregnant long after they quit their relationships with the men. There is no double standard because it has nothing to do with babies made the old fashioned way (where you need some form of contact until at least 9 months before birth). In one of the cases above, it's "years" after they split up. That would be the woman who already has a daughter, so her cry of help for a chance of a "natural birth" is even more shaky (BTW, "natural" in exactly what way?). And hey, it's not like they are out of options.
posted by magullo at 6:18 AM on October 1, 2003

I, too, question why embryos were saved instead of sperm and eggs. But then again, I don't know the science. I hope these women aren't allowed to use these embryos though, as it's not fair to the fathers. There are plenty of other avenues for them to follow. In vitro SHOULD be treated as a seperate event than regular fertilization because two people worked so hard and paid so much money to make an event happen. There is a lot more intent there than simply making a baby the old fashioned way. If one of the two parties no longer wants to make that event happen, well, it's almost as if they never did anything to begin with. I think. My opinion is still forming on this, but I do know that I'd rather they not win and explore other options.
posted by agregoli at 6:43 AM on October 1, 2003

Humanae Vitae proved right once again. Okay, it's more about artificial contraception, but it doesn't take much to realize that reproductive technology on the whole is quite the two-edged sword.

I feel a modicum of sympathy for the men and women in these cases, but I feel oceans of despair for the young babies who are in a cruel state of suspended animation against their wills. As humans just starting their wonderful and exciting lives, their natural and indeed their total drive is toward life, existence, and experience. Yet they are imprisoned in a frozen test tube, denied the experience of life, and even denied a voice of defence.

Sick sick sick. I hate reproductive tech more than nuclear war. How do you put the genie back in the bottle? How do you make billions of imprudent people more prudent??
posted by timbley at 6:45 AM on October 1, 2003

I admit it's frustrating, timbley, but those embryos aren't in their frozen containment units crying, "Let me out, it's cold in here!"
posted by agregoli at 7:02 AM on October 1, 2003

If it was the couple (not just the woman) that had donated the embryos, it's the couple's decision on what to do with them--the exhusbands or exboyfriends certainly should have a say.

I feel for those women, but there's always adoption or a foster child--there are millions of unwanted children around who would love to become part of those women's lives. Zachsmind has it exactly right in my view.

timbley, the women can donate the embryos if the life of the baby is so important. Every day, many spare embryos are destroyed or donated to other couples or to scientific research (the stem cell thing). The vast number of fertilized embryos are actually destroyed, which doesn't seem to concern many people who believe that each is a living baby.
posted by amberglow at 7:21 AM on October 1, 2003

I'm not sure it's a double standard. In a natural conception, most of the arguments for women's rights focus on that it is her body, and she should therefore be permitted to decide what to do with it.

However, the frozen embryo thing.. well, it's not her body anymore, and the embryo, separated from her body really can now be considered 'joint ownership', since it does not affect her body, or her rights to do with her body what she wants.

She has every right to get pregnant with anyone willing to provide the second half of the equation. But she doesn't have a right to take "property" jointly owned with someone else and do with it what she wishes.
posted by rich at 7:21 AM on October 1, 2003

As a legal comparison, perhaps this situation can be compared with that of a criminal suspect who has been shot. The bullet remains in him, in a non life-threatening way, and is the primary evidence against him. But he refuses surgery to have the bullet removed.
Forcing someone to have surgery solely to prosecute them is generally recognized as a violation of their rights, but if the bullet passed through them it is generally acceptable as evidence.

In other words, as long as the embryo is outside of them, it is a "thing", property, with an assignable value. Now, this value may be high, but does not rise to the level of a *potential* "human right."
posted by kablam at 7:32 AM on October 1, 2003

Good point kablam.
posted by walrus at 7:36 AM on October 1, 2003

It's quite a problem we have here. From a scientific point of view embryos aren't but a very special kind of human cell that have the potential to become an human being ; but they still are cells. No emotion, no brain, nothing "human" except a sequence of DNA . They're very special material that , in my opinion, can only be property of one male and one female. Embryos are made of an egg and of a sperm, so obviously they belong to the owner of the egg and to the owner of the sperm.

In this case the woman can't dispose of what is not her property, without any regard of her emotional troubles. Same applies to the father who may as well decide to have that embryo implanted into another partner who for instance, may not be naturally able to procreate.

Of course, once the embryo has developed a nervous system that shows ANY kind of activity it's no longer a property, but a subject of rights...but that's another problem.
posted by elpapacito at 7:43 AM on October 1, 2003

As humans just starting their wonderful and exciting lives, their natural and indeed their total drive is toward life, existence, and experience.

Apart from the obvious fact that embryos are not babies (nor "young babies"), the above sentence does not describe a specifically human trait, but rather one that applies to most organisms. Lots of confusion there. Preferring nuclear war over reproductive science is a good pointer of what I mean. Pretty close to defining life as what goes on between conception and birth.
posted by magullo at 7:45 AM on October 1, 2003

Typical women - they agreed to a contract that said that both parties must agree to the storage and use of the embryos, and now, when it suits the women, they want that contract, and indeed law, to be thrown out.

All ready males are severely discriminated in the area of parenthood; females hold all of the rights, and men are given all of the responsibility; a woman can terminate a pregnancy without the father's consent. She can have the baby, even if the father wants it terminated, and the father will be forced to support a child he doesn't want [though the woman can get out of the situation at any point she chooses;] she can give the child up for adoption and suffer no financial burden or responsibility thereafter, toward the child, but a father cannot give his child up for adoption after it's birth, and escape financial responsibility, even though he may also not want the child.

When a woman wants to terminate a preganancy, it's female empowerment; when a man want a woman to terminate, he's a bastard. If he doesn't want anything to do with the child, to support the mother or the child, he's a bastard avoiding his responsibilities; when the woman seeks to terminate, she's exercising reproductive rights, and if she decides to put her child for adoption, she is viewed sympathetically.

When divorce or separation occurs, fathers are treated like dirt by family law courts, given scant access to their children, easily abused by women making false claims of violence/child abuse against them, in their bitterness to punish them for leaving them, sometimes never gaining access to their children for years, or ever again, and even then perhaps only under supervision and for extremely limited time.
Even where there is no accusation of wrongdoing, when fathers are given access to their children, the mothers can easily undermine that access, not turning up where agreed and disallowing access for a variety of false reasons.

Females can decide to have or not have a child, regardless of the father's wishes, and once the child is born, they can escape their "responsibilities," but the male cannot; he is also damned for making the same "life-choices" that the mother is sympathised with, for making.

The child is principally viewed as belonging to the mother, with the father having few or crippled rights, primarily seen as a financial sponsor to the mother's child.

The argument, re terminations, that "it's the mother's body" seems hollow to me, especially when balanced against the financial impact that an unwanted child may have on the father, who may, as a result of a decision not taken by himself, be unable to financially support a family he does want, with a woman he does wish to be with.

Rank sexual discrimination.

The judge in this case, made the right decision.

posted by Blue Stone at 8:55 AM on October 1, 2003

Blue Stone: The first two words of your rant really detract from the rest of it.
posted by ODiV at 9:06 AM on October 1, 2003

Bluestone: the facts you acutely describe (it's not a rant) a situation of severe sex discrimination (a form of racism) and what's "fun" is that women battling for RIGHTS probably agree with you, but there's still a generation of battle feminists who would rather use generic propaganda arguments like "men are pigs" instead of pushing for rights that can be applied to everybody.

But I have to agree with ODiV , there's no "typical" woman as there is no "typical" men ; that's categorizing, which is likely to lead to broad generalizations and so on toward racism.
posted by elpapacito at 9:14 AM on October 1, 2003

To anybody with children:

Look into your child's eyes, and experience the joy they give and have.

Now visualize them shrinking down, down, down... reduced to a "mere" fertilized egg. Yes, before your very eyes, they are stripped of everything - even the ability to comprehend what has happened to them!

Now, put them in a test tube and bathe it in liquid nitrogen. Leave them there indefinitely. You cannot play with them anymore, share anything with them, see them enjoy life, develop, grow, or enjoy their humanity. They are forever locked in a small, dark, frozen prison that robs them of everything they are and could ever be.

Just because this child has never grown up and smiled at you doesn't mean that the above description is any less accurate (for all those who will say that a fertilized egg has no thoughts, feelings, isn't human, etc...)

I would have to say, it takes a heartless bastard (or terminally stupid / lacking any conscience) of a parent to allow that kind of thing to happen to their children or any child.
posted by timbley at 9:29 AM on October 1, 2003

Cut the embryo(s) in half, and implant half in her and give half to the father.

Swerdloff: dispensing Solominic wisdom since 2003.
posted by swerdloff at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2003

Um, nothing has happened to it. It's not a child. It's an embryo. It is just sitting there, waiting to grow or not grow. You can't compare it to a child that has already lived. It is not doing anything yet.
posted by agregoli at 9:37 AM on October 1, 2003

timbley: the description of the child is good and real and personally I agree with you childs can enlighten adults a lot in many precious way. But pay attention, you're using an image (that of the "shrinking kid") to move parents emotions towards feeling the same for an embryo as if it was a kid. If embryo=kid and the feeling is the same, we should stop experimenting with embryos (that are a scientific marvel and potential source of lifesaving discoveries) and let the already born kids die. I'd rather kill some cells then watch a kid die.
posted by elpapacito at 9:43 AM on October 1, 2003

timbley, what are you saying, an embryo has feelings?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:49 AM on October 1, 2003

timbley, I understand where you're coming from, but I hope you're not trying to convince anyone here with that argument. It's just bound to degenerate into the abortion debate of when a fetus becomes 'human', and it will probably get ugly along the way.

I feel very sad for Ms. Evans because she agreed to undergo therapy that would live her infertile based on the understanding that she had already created children with her boyfriend. However, once the 'mother's body' argument applies no longer, her vote no longer overrides the father's. And there are other options for her, including adoption. Painful situation but I believe the outcome is just.
posted by widdershins at 9:51 AM on October 1, 2003

live = leave
posted by widdershins at 9:52 AM on October 1, 2003

ODiV, elpapacito - sorry, that part was said a bit tongue-in-cheek.
posted by Blue Stone at 9:53 AM on October 1, 2003

Actually, I read the words "typical women", rolled my eyes, then found myself skimming the rest of it, seeing it was at least as long as my usual diatribes, but I was about to dismiss it cuz after those first two words, the tone had been set as to being chauvinistic. So I glanced at the last few words and moved on. Then I got to ODiV's comment and stopped in my tracks. Was I being as dismissive as a chauvinist or bigot, because the first two words were not to my liking? So I went back and gave Blue Stone the benefit of the doubt...

"When a woman wants to terminate a preganancy, it's female empowerment; when a man want a woman to terminate, he's a bastard."

...And found I pretty much agree with him, which for some reason I find cringeworthy, because parts of his rant still read kinda chauvinistic, but other parts retain a rational logic I've maintained for years. The concept of equal rights for both genders is an illusion. I know women who claim to want to be treated the same as men, yet still prefer a man open doors for her or help her into her chair. They want both equality and special treatment, and what's preposterous is that many get both, then complain when occasionally the equality thing interferes with the special treatment, or vice versa.

Now I don't know what to think. But then, I gave up trying to figure out women a long time ago. Approximately since February of 2001. By the way everyone lied to you: if you don't long enough, it does grow back.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:03 AM on October 1, 2003

The woman who lost her ovaries to cancer makes a good point: "Ms Evans said that if she had known her partner was likely to change his mind, she would have chosen a different course of treatment. "

Like for instance, saving her eggs alone, and not creating embryoes with him.
posted by dabitch at 10:08 AM on October 1, 2003

he is also damned for making the same "life-choices" that the mother is sympathised with, for making

In all the scenarios you describe, the sympathy is for decisions that ensure that, if a child is born, he is properly supported; the decisions that are condemned result in an unsupported child. [/OT]
posted by eddydamascene at 10:11 AM on October 1, 2003

..yet still prefer a man open doors for her - please don't confuse manners with equal rights. I hold open doors too.
posted by dabitch at 10:11 AM on October 1, 2003

Could they not just draw up some kind of legal contract whereby she agrees never to ask him for child support and he allows her to use the embryos? It seems really unreasonable of him to deny her this when he must know that she chose the course of treatment she did without saving eggs first because she thought she could use the embryos. Of course, we don't know the whole story.
posted by biscotti at 10:13 AM on October 1, 2003

Having children became a right? I must have been napping.

I can't help but agree with the opinion that a contract was made which demanded consent by both parents. This consent is not forthcoming. I can't even see how it got to court. What a waste of taxpayers' money.
posted by squealy at 10:19 AM on October 1, 2003

I also agree with the ruling, it seems clear those embryos aren't their property.

Blue Stone, with respect to the termination of a natural conception, while I agree that it is unfair for a man to have no say should a woman want to terminate a pregnancy, it would be equally unfair to have a woman go through a pregnancy she doesn't want and the latter has possible medical complications on top of it. So, it's a lesser of two evils.

Which seems to be the way most decisions go when it comes to current reproductive laws. The legal system just can't keep up with medical science and the ethical debates that come with it.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:21 AM on October 1, 2003

ZachsMind, I'd be happy to address any parts of my post that you see as "kinda chauvinistic."

I don't regard myself as that at all, in fact I strongly believe in real equality for men and women [though applied with wisdom rather than dogma.]
posted by Blue Stone at 10:23 AM on October 1, 2003

Oh puh-leeze, Blue. That's one beehive I've no interest in banging with a stick. It's simply a no-win discussion topic, because one person's wisdom is another person's dogma. I thought I already made the point in my previous ramble: equality is subjective and therefore, unequal.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:32 AM on October 1, 2003

If the dude doesn't want a kid, he shouldn't have got his chocolate all mixed up in her peanut butter, know what I'm sayin'?
posted by stonerose at 10:32 AM on October 1, 2003

Hmm, you make some good points blue stone that divorced friends of mine would certainly agree with. But to me, if a woman chooses an abortion that the child's father doesn't agree with, tough on him. He doesn't have to carry it for 9 months and go through the danger of childbirth. (And yes, even these days in the West it's still very dangerous; I know from when my son was born).

There are moves afoot to stop anonymous sperm donation in the UK. I did it as a student to raise money (odd what was my most marketable commodity then...) but wouldn't now as I wouldn't want the child support agency knocking on my door, going to my employers and forcing them to dock my salary and pay money to maintain a child conceived that way. As I said in my post above, that's why i would deny these women the right to an embryo fertilised with my sperm, if it were me. But christ, what a heartache for the women; lose your ovaries, want a kid, know that an embryo of yours is viable.. and will now be destroyed.
posted by Pericles at 10:33 AM on October 1, 2003

timbley: It doesn't work like that. While the past can be stated, the future cannot. Picture the child that you just regressed to an embryo. Only this time, imagine that as it develops, something goes wrong. The mother has a miscarriage. Or maybe it has Down's syndrome. Or after the child is born and it's growing to maturity, it's playing in the street and gets hit by a bus at the age of five. Suddenly your child who was originally older is dead -- but at age five, not before birth.

Losing the opportunity to have a child is a lot different than losing a child.
posted by mikeh at 10:34 AM on October 1, 2003

Only this time, imagine that as it develops, something goes wrong. The mother has a miscarriage. Or maybe it has Down's syndrome.

Or even worse, it grows up Liberal, or (gasp!) gay!

Blue Stone: excellent points, all. It is unfair that men have no say in the birth of their own children, but as many have stated already, there is no pressure on the male to bring to term the pregnancy, and no risk to their health if something were to go wrong.

I think a very simple solution to the problem would be thus: either party may (say, up until the 2nd trimester) decide they don't want to have the child. The catch is, if it's the man who decides he doesn't want the child, the woman still has the right to bear that child, but no right for compensation from the man. In other words, if you (woman) want the choice to keep or kill your unborn child, regardless of the opinions of the father, you must also be prepared to bear the burden of raising that child without the financial (or emotional) support of the father. It's only fair.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2003

They are forever locked in a small, dark, frozen prison that robs them of everything they are and could ever be.

While you're at it you might as well have millions of tiny funerals for all those "pre- embryos" a man creates. And 12 times a year for what that murderous bitch is responsible for.
posted by soren at 11:05 AM on October 1, 2003

Blue Stone's rant kinda made me go, "heh", since I am a non-custodial mother who has had visits curtailed, cancelled, and required to be supervised (all for no good reason) due to a vengeful father. Dude, I realize you were talking about "most cases" or whatever, but please at least acknowledge that this particular street goes both ways, ok?

And frankly, I think our current system of father non-custodial-parent-must-pay-for-upkeep may be out of whack, but at least it's not as bad as the many eons where single parents had to solely provide for children when the other partner abandoned them. Do you think that was more fair than what we've got now? I mean, I'm not claiming it's perfect, but at least there is some semblance of trying to make sure the child doesn't get the short end of the stick.

And when it comes to embryos in vitro, it is inappropriate to call them "human beings". At best, they are "human maybes". Even with our best science, there is never a guarantee that an embryo or fetus (implanted or not) is going to make it to viability. Unimplanted embryos face especially long odds.

On preview: Civil_Disobedient, you are describing essentially the ability of fathers to abandon their children with no financial consequence, pretty darn similar to what has prevailed throughout most of human history. I don't think your solution puts us anywhere better than where we are now.
posted by beth at 11:09 AM on October 1, 2003

Timbley: But why stop at conception? Surely I should track my child's 'life' back further, through the sexual act, etc. Maybe everyone should be obliged to have sexual relations™ with everyone they meet, just in case they are depriving some poor future child of life!
posted by daveg at 11:13 AM on October 1, 2003

Hey as long as I can have a paper abortion, let the woman have her kid. Of course, if I can be sued for child support for her unilateral decision to have a child, then I say no. Of course, the kind of woman who would make a decision like this in the first place probably shouldn't be having kids anyway.
posted by hurkle at 11:29 AM on October 1, 2003

ZachsMind - I don't know what bees you're referring to, I made the offer in good faith, with an open mind and with an intent to be reasonable. I wasn't hoping to incite an argument, or anything. Whatever pleases you. :)

beth - The general thrust of my post was that parental rights for males are inadequate and unequal. That the same sort of things happens to females also, is honestly something I hadn't considered, and you've got my sympathy for the situation you and your children find yourselves in. That this happens to anyone is good reason that family courts, or courts dealing with these matters, need serious and thorough review, and changes have to be made to the way they function (or rather fail to.)

I think what Civil_Disobedient suggested is interesting, and something that I've considered as a possible solution, but in addition, you'd have to add that the father gives up all claims to the child after he's decided he doesn't want it.

What you're saying, beth, about C_D's suggestion giving males the ability to abandon their children without financial consequence, is an option that is open to females today, through termination, or adoption. So why not for the guys?

In my mind, if you're going to allow one of the two parties to walk away with no responsibility, both parties have to be able to do so. And if one party is lawfully mandated to be responsible, then so should the other.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:53 AM on October 1, 2003

Beth: No, that's not what I'm saying. Look closely at your statements and you will see a contradiction. I am saying that the father should be allowed to abandon the embryo, not a child already born. You don't seem to have a problem seeing a difference between "human maybe's" and "humans"; I am merely pointing out that if they are not considered children, per se, but closer in law to property (with obligations), why should a father be shackled financially to a child that is not, by definition, a child yet?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:00 PM on October 1, 2003

I think the die has been cast the moment conception occurred. Did someone hold a gun to the father's head and demand he provide sperm?

If men want choice they can have it. They just need to make the decision before they ejaculate.
posted by konolia at 12:02 PM on October 1, 2003

...the woman still has the right to bear that child, but no right for compensation from the man...

The problem is that it's not the mother who has rights or claims against the father, it's the child that does.

Seems simpler just to tell the woman to go jump in a lake. If she'd wanted to make certain that she could have genetically-her children, she should have planned better and stored ova instead of embryos -- it's not like the possibilities of splitting up or divorcing are too remote to plan against. Mr. Man has a veto on genetically-his-too embryos, and Ms. Lady can go off and use someone else's ova if she wants.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:38 PM on October 1, 2003

I think the die has been cast the moment conception occurred. Did someone hold a gun to the father's head and demand he provide sperm?

If men want choice they can have it. They just need to make the decision before they ejaculate.

Thought what we are discussing was done in a lab, ???.
The beginning comments seemed to sum it all up, if were adding the point at which life was conceived, don't think these woman care since they had the embro stored, how cold is that.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:02 PM on October 1, 2003

how cold is that.
which sounds cold by a wanting mom.(meant to hit preview not post, excues any spelling mistakes.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:05 PM on October 1, 2003

i'll jump into this conversation as kind of a counterpoint to beth.

see, i'm a custodial father, and my ex lives in texas. it's crappy to read that her rights have been curtailed for no good reason...but there are always two sides to every story, n'est-ce pas?

you are describing essentially the ability of fathers to abandon their children with no financial consequence

women have the ability to do the same through adoption... though i really don't think that they have the option of adoption if the father's in the picture. if they do, then i think that's a criminal, hateful act. i'd do anything to make sure i could take care of my daughter, and i'm lucky my ex is such a loser that she couldn't even begin to take care of our daughter....cause if, for a minute, she thought she could, the courts would probably have let her. but if she were to have put our daughter up for adoption without any input from me...i'd be very upset.

now, with that said, normally kids that are given up for adoption are given to good homes...but plenty of kids end up in orphanages. is that better than a kid being with his mother? i think not....therefore, i think that if a mother can abdicate her legal responsibility, so should a father be able to.

now, furthermore, the woman has the ability to DESTROY the child, and the man has no kind of recourse in that respect. think about that for a moment...that's pretty intense...and i'm not looking for any additional rights for a father to counterbalance this scary right by the mother....i'd personally prefer it to be illegal for a woman to abort a fetus that a father wants (just as it's illegal for a man to force a woman to have an abortion) but i realize that there are issues with that.

but still, reproductive rights are tilted way too far towards the mother. the excuse that she spends 9 months is malarky...some men spend years at war, and trust me, that's tougher.
posted by taumeson at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2003

Men can choose to go to war, too. I fail to see how that's a good comparison.
posted by agregoli at 1:30 PM on October 1, 2003

konolia - If men want choice they can have it. They just need to make the decision before they ejaculate.

If women want choice they can have it. They just need to make the decision before the man ejaculates inside them.

What's sauce for the goose, as it were. [Barf]
posted by Blue Stone at 2:37 PM on October 1, 2003


what i'm trying to say with the 'war' comment has to do with the fact that i think that the 9 month gestation a woman has to go through to bear live young is not a strong enough reason to give the woman all of the reproductive rights.
posted by taumeson at 3:19 PM on October 1, 2003

A 9 month gestation that could cause life-threatening complications is a pretty strong reason. I could never support a law that let someone block a woman's right to choose. (And last I checked, women are now sent to war as well.)

I think most people are beginning to see that men have often been given the shaft in terms of custody. My understanding on adoption was that if the father was around, he could prevent a baby being put up for adoption and take on custody. I certainly think it should be his right.

If men could walk away from their parental responsibilities, some would. If women can use abortion/pregnancy to control a man, some will. It would be nice for laws to find a way to strike a balance, but I think it's going to take a long time.
posted by Salmonberry at 4:22 PM on October 1, 2003

I've said it before, but things get repeated around here (I'm pretty sure blue stone has expressed similar points before...) so: as things stand, we don't have the right to control our DNA. Women have the power to determine the fate of an embryo only incidentally; what they're really exercising their right over is the domain of their person - human beings are granted sovereignty over their own bodies and therefore have the right to defend against or remove alien or external impediments to the efficient carriage thereof, if it's feasible. The complication of pregnancy is the potential of the fetus and as scotus ruled, the rights of the mother decrease as the rights of the potential child increase.

Anyway, this scenario is a little different, but basically it looks as if the judgment is that people do have a right to their dna unless they implant it in another person, in which case it is conceptualized as given to that person. If two people combine their dna and put it in a freezer, it is under the jurisdiction of the freezer owners (say) who can choose to regard it as the joint property of the couple. If they combine their dna in the uterus of the woman, however, the woman has jurisdiction over the property, either to choose to keep it and nurture it into being, or to choose to destroy it. It may seem to you that this is a bias in favor of the woman, but place is central to law; what happens on your property is under your jurisdiction to a greater degree than that which happens on neutral property.

It's interesting that the metaphorical descriptions of hetero sex often speak of the woman as the vulnerable one, the undergoer or victim of a man's action or penetration, but it could as easily be seen as the man being vulnerable for being a visitor into the woman's domain, that the act most fully takes place in the woman... not that I would advocate analogizing things like that too much, but it's still interesting.
posted by mdn at 7:55 PM on October 1, 2003

Regarding bluestone's original post, he's absolutely spot on. This is the state of play today and feminism has obliterated the family.

beth, I don't know about your personal circumstances, but women automatically get custody unless there are exceptional circumstances.

There are currently an estimated 250,000 US men in prison because of the CSA. A lot of them are set maintenace levels HIGHER THAN THEIR CURRENT INCOME. You can't pay - you go to prison. Meanwhile the meter still ticks while you spend your 90 day stretch in prison. You get out of prison, and guess what? The CSA throw you back in there.

Hoorah for feminism!
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:59 AM on October 2, 2003

I don't know how anyone can come up with rock solid standpoints on these issues, since there are so many variables and factors and every case is different... So I won't make any absolute pronouncements as to right and wrong.

I do think it's unfair that men have little to no say in what happens once their partner gets pregnant. But I don't see what other options there are. Biology sucks sometimes.
What I would like to see is men taking more responsibility BEFORE a woman gets pregnant, since that is an area in which they do have equal rights and responsibilities. Some of you decent men would be amazed to know just how many men try to get out of wearing a condom and expect the woman to take full responsibility for the birth control used. My philosophy on birth control is that it should be one method each, which works well on both ethical and practical levels.

And as for the issue of abdication of parental duties - I'm torn on this one. I know it's not fair for either parent to force another into keeping the child, but I tend to think that if you have a child you owe something to that child (as distinct from owing something to your former partner) regardless of whether he or she was wanted. If your child is adopted by people who will be responsible parents, then you have done your duty - making sure your child is cared for. But if you know your child is in need, how can you justify not making a reasonable effort to help him or her?
posted by orange swan at 7:29 AM on October 2, 2003

Orange swan, I understand your feelings on moral duty. And personally, I think too many children are being brought into this world with parents that are unable to provide a decent level of care for them -- usually because of financial or emotional hardship. But here's the thing: I (hypothetical I, mind you) know I can't afford to have a child right now. Which is why I'm not having one. If circumstances should arise and pregnancy result, I would be unable to care for that child. Should I be forced into destitution and financial ruin just because my partner is adament that the baby come to term? Further, why would I chose to subject my child to a crappy life when I know it can be avoided? Would it be better for a child to be aborted, or for it to grow up in poverty?

The definition of life isn't just the singular point when something is born. We also use the word to describe the entire span of birth to death. Does the value of that singular moment when life is conceived outweigh the seventy-odd years of misery a child might have waiting for him or her?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:08 PM on October 2, 2003

Interesting. Consider -- if she still had her ovaries, all it would take is him having sex with her a relatively small number of times to implant the necessary material for a child to be born. That the embryo has already been formed is a bit besides the point; there's still an implantation process that must be executed and this process involves the genetic material of the father.

The state cannot compel the implantation of the man's genes, through either embryo or sexual intercourse. If they could, it would be an even more frightening world we'd live in.

If the state is willing to abdicate all claim, now and forever, on the father's financial responsibility, I think she'd have a better chance of acquiring his consent. Curiously enough, it's clear the policy of CSA is actually preventing a child from being born. If this Serves Children, I'm not sure how.
posted by effugas at 11:06 PM on October 2, 2003

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