When Oral Sex becomes a pregnancy
January 24, 2008 9:37 AM   Subscribe

What happens when oral sex leads to pregnancy? Apparently, this can happen 2.5% 0% of the time, although in this case, the father, Dr. Richard O. Phillips is claiming the mother, Dr. Sharon Irons secretly kept the sperm to artificially inseminate herself. He sued for emotional distress (as well as theft, though the theft charge was thrown out); Sherry Colb has written an interesting article on the bizarre case. [Colb previously on MeFi]
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me (138 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite


 
Did you even read the AskMetafilter thread you linked to?
posted by billysumday at 9:39 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oral sex leads to pregnancy 0.000000000000% of the time. I promise.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:40 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Heh, no, no I did not. I did a google search to check for this post already -- and this one came up and I went "Oh, how interesting."

So, uh, if an admin could kindly delete that line, that'd be awesome. Because I am a goddamn idiot.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 9:41 AM on January 24, 2008




What happens when oral sex leads to pregnancy? Apparently, this can happen 2.5% of the time

And people claim that gay sex is harmless!
posted by billysumday at 9:43 AM on January 24, 2008


How often does gay sex lead to pregnancy?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:44 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Timing.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:44 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Heh, shows me to not read critically. I saw the "2.5%" stat, went "Wow, I had no idea that was even possible!" and posted it. Without, you know, looking at any of the surrounding bits that were all about something entirely different.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 9:44 AM on January 24, 2008


Best explanation for what happened: "when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift - an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee . . . . There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request." Yep. A gift.
posted by kristin at 9:44 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've found that having sex by myself is very effective in preventing pregnancy.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:45 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've found that having sex by myself is very effective in preventing pregnancy.
posted by never used baby shoes


Yep, we begin the eponysterity
posted by Forktine at 9:49 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the sperm is a gift that the giver has no further claim on, how can there be a paternity suit?
posted by DU at 9:49 AM on January 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Perhaps instead of my AskMe link, we could replace it with this link to the Abominable Charles Christopher. It's about as relevant AND it's an amazingly good comic.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 9:52 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've made a small edit that corrects the mistake without destroying the narrative leading up to the correction.
posted by cortex at 9:55 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I seem to recall that former Wimbledon start Boris Becker had anonymous sex with a fan in a cleaning utensils room or something. She gave him a blowjob, inseminated herself and sued him for childsupport.
posted by jouke at 9:55 AM on January 24, 2008


it was a gift

... so many jokes ... must not...

I know what I'm getting everyone for Christmas this year!

... Damn it!
posted by quin at 9:58 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks, cortex! If you wanted, you could have put in something about me being an illiterate moron, too..8)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 9:58 AM on January 24, 2008


Odds of oral sex leading to pregnancy: 0%
Odds of gay sex leading to pregnancy: 0%
Odds of gay oral sex leading to pregnancy: 15%

It's a mystery!
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 9:59 AM on January 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


“She asserts that when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift — an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee,”

First of all, the word isn't "gift", it's "treat".

And if it was a gift, did she declare it on her taxes? On that subject, wikipedia says "For the purposes of taxable income, courts have defined "gift" as proceeds from a "detached and disinterested generosity." Shows you how much fun he had.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:06 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wasn't there another, similar case? Some woman who gave a tennis player a blow job in a restaurant cupboard, and then spat out his spermy goodness, which she then used to impregnate herself? Boris Becker maybe? Bjorn Borg?

I bet nobody has ever tried this with Chuck Norris, because Chuck's manfat would blast a hole right through the back of her skull.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:07 AM on January 24, 2008


"disinterested" != "uninterested"

Signed
The Joke Police
posted by DU at 10:07 AM on January 24, 2008


Ah, so you were watching last night's Boston Legal and decided to research what case the episode was based on?
posted by rednikki at 10:11 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Best explanation for what happened: "when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift - an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee . . . . There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request." Yep. A gift.

Kristin,
It's possible I'm reading your words "yep. A gift" wrongly. Apologies if I am.

I assume you mean you agree that the "gift" of sperm makes the subsequent birth of the child partly the man's responsibility? (In other words, tough luck on the guy?).

The problem I have with the way I'm reading your comment is that Colb - the law expert - appears to say that because the woman later transformed the freely-given gift of oral sex sperm into baby-making sperm, that wasn't the gift the guy freely made at all?

The bit you quoted was simply her interim argument - before she got to the analysis of the gift being transformed by the woman's "unnatural" action.

Colb concludes her argument: "At some point, a man's lack of actual responsibility for the creation of a child must absolve him of financial responsibility as well. The circumstances of Phillips and Irons - as claimed by Phillips - seem a sensible place to start."

I agree with the implication of her last comment.
IF you believe the guy - the sperm was donated during oral sex - it seems to be outrageous he should accept a financial ruling against him for child support?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:12 AM on January 24, 2008


kittens for breakfast:

That shit made me laugh and then cry a little.
posted by dozo at 10:14 AM on January 24, 2008


A refresher course.
posted by kittens for breakfast
...

Brilliant!!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:17 AM on January 24, 2008


Jody Tresidder,

I think Kristin was sarcastically saying that that small hot blob of goo is NOT what most would normally term a "gift".

Least that's how I read it.
posted by dozo at 10:18 AM on January 24, 2008


Dude...that situation, uh, blows.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:29 AM on January 24, 2008


I'm sort of wondering why the issue here isn't why a woman who's clearly batshit loco enough to do something like that is allowed to have custody of a child. Clearly there's a lot of story not being told here but it doesn't sound like she denied his side of the story and if that's how she really got pregnant then she has some serious problems.

(For some reason I feel like this story was already mentioned on MeFi a while back... anyone else remember this?)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:33 AM on January 24, 2008


See, this is why Christmas always sucks for me. I mean, I'll drop hints. I'll say, "Hey, this store has cool stuff!" or "Gee, I wish I owned this CD." But does anyone listen? NO. Every year, same thing in the damn stocking. Just sperm. AGAIN.

Stupid Santa.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:38 AM on January 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Okay, my bad, I read the other article and it's completely different from the MSNBC one, saying the mother denies the claim. And I certainly can support the claim that the father is just, well, lying.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:38 AM on January 24, 2008


small hot blob of goo is NOT what most would normally term a "gift".

Beter cross your fingers that I don't draw your name for Secrete Santa this year.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:38 AM on January 24, 2008 [14 favorites]


First of all, the word isn't "gift", it's "treat".

Actually, the medical term is 'throat yogurt'.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:46 AM on January 24, 2008


This is SUCH an open and shut issue, it's not even funny. If a woman is to have 100% dominion over her reproductive rights, then she must also bear 100% of the financial responsibility. If having a man along to support the child is so important, she should probably find herself a mate, and not just a fuck buddy.

The only reason there's any argument about this is because some people want to have their cake and eat it, too: it's not much different than petulant teenagers, demanding their freedom from mom and dad's oppressive ways one day, then demanding the complete financial support of those same parents the next. If you want equal rights and reproductive freedom, the cost is you have to support yourself. This is not rocket surgery. And I will convince no one, because anyone who can't see that line of reason is simply not operating on anything but the heady fumes of fantasy land where they get everything they want, when they want it, and have no trade offs of limitations.

The only reason this isn't an open and shut case legally is because the state doesn't want to bear the costs of single moms, so they let some poor schmoes bear the cost instead, by garnishing his wages. Didn't California under Pete Wilson even start forcing child support even on men who the mothers themselves said weren't the father simply because the name was similar enough and the state didn't want to bear the cost?
small hot blob of goo is NOT what most would normally term a "gift".
Alvy Ampersand: Beter cross your fingers that I don't draw your name for Secrete Santa this year.
Please, please, PLEASE tell me that was intentional. You misspelled "better", so I'm not sure, but "Secrete Santa" would be comic genius, unintentional or otherwise.
posted by hincandenza at 10:53 AM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


"She asserts that when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift — an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee,”

I believe that I've heard many a romantic lead suggest much the same thing at the, ahem, denouement of a work of adult cinema.
posted by ob at 10:53 AM on January 24, 2008


Secrete Santa

Alvy, either your a genius or that's the best typo ever.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:53 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ahem, you're
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:54 AM on January 24, 2008


Gift not used for its intended purpose.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:01 AM on January 24, 2008


Jody Tresidder,

I think Kristin was sarcastically saying that that small hot blob of goo is NOT what most would normally term a "gift".

Least that's how I read it.



Dozo,
Seriously - thanks.

You're probably right, and I was getting the wrong end of the thing, as it were. But it was hard to tell. You're also right about it being a peculiar use of "gift", but I can see the point as a legal term.

(Yay also for the glorious Secrete Santa!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:02 AM on January 24, 2008


Stranger things have happened..."'Tom, is it possible for a girl to get pregnant without intercourse?' I get that all the time. I mean, I get asked that all the time! Anyway... I said, for the answer to this we're gonna have to go all the way back to the civil war. Apparently a stray bullet... This is the truth! A stray bullet actually pierced the testicle of a Union soldier, and then it went on to lodge itself in the ovaries of an eighteen year old girl who was standing two hundred, maybe three hundred feet from him at the time. They'd never even met! How's that for luck! Anyway, you know, she was very happy of course, cause there was something kind of immaculate about the conception, and she did a lot of interviews and that type of thing, and people flew in, and she was on the cover of a lot of magazines at the time. The baby was healthy. Of course, the soldier was pissed off, wouldn't you be? It's actually a FORM of intercourse, but I don't think it's for everybody. Unless you like action. I like action! "
posted by Sailormom at 11:03 AM on January 24, 2008


Oh and Richard O. Phillips... O Phillips.... Oh dear
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:03 AM on January 24, 2008


“it was a gift — an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee,”

How does this intersect with the right to go through someone's curbside garbage?

I'm also reminded of the rapists who supposedly collect used condoms from prostitutes to invalidate the DNA evidence they leave behind.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:06 AM on January 24, 2008


miss lynnster: Every year, same thing in the damn stocking. Just sperm. AGAIN.

Do what everyone else does: re-gift it.

In fairness, that stocking is pretty damned cute...
posted by LordSludge at 11:06 AM on January 24, 2008


Yeah, I'm one of those geniuses who can't spell 'better' and botch the joke as a result. This is why we need comment editing, people!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:07 AM on January 24, 2008


The dude should not be liable unless you wanna turn all guys into Indian givers.
posted by jamstigator at 11:08 AM on January 24, 2008


This is SUCH an open and shut issue, it's not even funny. If a woman is to have 100% dominion over her reproductive rights, then she must also bear 100% of the financial responsibility. If having a man along to support the child is so important, she should probably find herself a mate, and not just a fuck buddy. man fathers a child, he should take responsibility for it. The only reason there's any argument about this is because some people want to have their cake and eat it, too

FTFY
posted by Reverend John at 11:17 AM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


A stray bullet actually pierced the testicle of a Union soldier

Yeah, that myth was kind of busted by some MeFite or other....
posted by splice at 11:24 AM on January 24, 2008


Normally my position is that child support is something due the child, not the mother, but this is an exception. With an accidental pregnancy from consensual intercourse, yes, if the woman decides to go through with the pregnancy, the man must pay child support (or the woman, if the man gets custody). But this was a deliberate pregnancy resulting from a use of the man's ejaculate without his permission or knowledge, and therefore there is no child support due the mother - it's as though she used a sperm bank.

I'd argue that this kind of exception should be written into the law, but then the danger is that lots of men would use it to try to get out of paying child support, and how would a woman who had gotten pregnant through accidental consensual intercourse prove that?
posted by orange swan at 11:32 AM on January 24, 2008


This is why we need better birth control for men. The options are 1. use condom, 2. get snipped, or 3. trust that your partner is willfully and effectively using birth control.

#1 isn't preferred, especially if you truly have #3. #2 is hard to reverse, and most guys won't want to make *that* sort of decision for a long time. So, when #3 breaks down... it leaves guys screwed (pun intended).

Better (meaning reversible and not based on external barriers) birth control for men would really level the playing field.
posted by Lafe at 11:33 AM on January 24, 2008


Paternity laws are breathtakingly fucked up. If you're married to a girl and she cheats on you and gets pregnant, guess what? It's still your problem crushing financial burden.
posted by mullingitover at 11:43 AM on January 24, 2008


"I'd argue that this kind of exception should be written into the law, but then the danger is that lots of men would use it to try to get out of paying child support, and how would a woman who had gotten pregnant through accidental consensual intercourse prove that?"

Totally with you, orange swan.

I was totally horrified that a woman could so coldly con a man like this.
Then I was totally horrified that a man could make up such an outrageous lie.
Then I was totally horrified to realize one of them must be totally lying one way or other.

Now I've totally run out of steam.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:45 AM on January 24, 2008


This is why we need better birth control for men.

When used correctly, condoms are, what, like 95% effective in preventing pregnancy? 99.9% when used in coordination with spermicidal gel and/or female contraceptives?

Better birth control for men is better conversations with your partner about your contraceptive choices... I don't really think science will improve upon that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:45 AM on January 24, 2008


Snopes on the stray bullet pregnancy.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:49 AM on January 24, 2008


how would a woman who had gotten pregnant through accidental consensual intercourse prove that?

Whoops, that should read "a woman who had accidentally gotten pregnant through consensual intercourse".

Pregnancy via "accidental consensual intercourse" would TRULY be a knotty legal issue;-)
posted by orange swan at 11:52 AM on January 24, 2008


Better birth control for men is better conversations with your partner about your contraceptive choices... I don't really think science will improve upon that.

If men could take a pill which temporarily reduced their sperm count to nil, it would give men a way to safeguard themselves against situations like this.
posted by orange swan at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2008


hincandenza Yeah! Stupid sluts, how dare they get pregnant just 'cuz us decent, honest, honorable, and in no way at all slutty men fuck them without contraception!

Nice to see the anti-choice position so clearly spelled out. Its about slut punishing, not life.

Get a grip cousin. Women have 100% control over their bodies because, and I know this is hard for a lot of people raised in the patriarchy to understand, they own their bodies. You do not own a woman's body just becuase you had sex with her. If men gestated babies, it'd be 100% their choice and women wouldn't get any say.

As far as child support goes? I'd say thats a really good reason for men to wear condoms and take a bit of responsibility, no?
posted by sotonohito at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Miss Lynnster - also, Mythbusted.
posted by phyrewerx at 12:05 PM on January 24, 2008


About the stray bullet, I wasn't aware that anyone actually believed it happened. What I quoted above is from the album Big Time by Tom Waits. Just some funny stage banter.
posted by Sailormom at 12:37 PM on January 24, 2008


Well, I don't think condoms would have helped much here. I mean, seriously, who would have seen this coming?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:03 PM on January 24, 2008


Funny, I'd agree it's open and shut, but in the other direction.

Here we have an actual child. Does the child have a claim against his father for support? Yes. Why? Because he is the father.

Does it matter that he really doesn't want the child? No.
Does it matter that the mother might or might not have done something sneaky? No.

The kid is still his kid, and the kid has the same claim on its father that any other kid has. Nothing that the mother did is the child's fault, and none of what the mother did should be the child's problem.

It sucks for him that he didn't consent to it, any more than the child consented to be born. But if the worst thing that ever happens to him is that he pays child support for an unexpected child, he's a lucky man.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:22 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe, would you feel the same way if the man were raped? And would you consider it rape if intercourse occured to someone who only consented to oral sex?
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:28 PM on January 24, 2008


I don't think anyone mentioned this yet, but the subject of this post was the exact topic of a storyline on this past week's episode of "Boston Legal" (ABC). Apologies if this was already said here, but I didn't see it yet. Curious.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 1:41 PM on January 24, 2008


I stand corrected. Apologies to rednikki.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 1:43 PM on January 24, 2008


Not that I'm getting blow jobs from random people, but things like this make me even more glad to have had a vasectomy. Best. Procedure. Ever.
posted by nobeagle at 1:57 PM on January 24, 2008


Here we have an actual child. Does the child have a claim against his father for support? Yes. Why? Because he is the father.

Pretending for the moment that the above isn't a troll,

Can't a mother give up rights to a child she is unfit whether financially, emotionally, or physically, to care for? Why shouldn't the father be able to? It seems as if there's a simple legal setup: 1. woman gets full control over her body and the pregnancy. 2. Father assumes equal control of child when born. 3. Either can sign away/lose parental rights along with parental liability. 4. Exceptions in marriage which is a contractual obligation to the spouse.

In this case, it appears pretty likely that the man is lying. But the woman also did not notify him of the pregnancy or birth of the child for apparently until it was about 2 years old. She should have legally assumed full responsibility at this point were the law in any way resembling fair. It's possible she tried in vain to contact him, or couldn't determine the father. The former case would be tough legal ground since it may just be they hooked up and separated paths in which case she willingly chose to have a child of someone's whom she didn't know...then again he could have actively avoided contact or made it difficult for her to reach. In the case of being unable to determine the father, it would seem she wasn't interested in having the man present in the raising of the child or she was trying to trap a man in either case he should not be held financially responsible.
posted by kigpig at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2008


Well, I don't know that it's the BEST procedure ever. Heart transplants and stuff are pretty cool too.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2008


The kid is still his kid, and the kid has the same claim on its father that any other kid has. Nothing that the mother did is the child's fault, and none of what the mother did should be the child's problem.

So a woman who was raped should be prevented from having an abortion because the father wants the baby to come to term? It is his kid, after all.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2008


I bet nobody has ever tried this with Chuck Norris, because Chuck's manfat would blast a hole right through the back of her skull.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:07 AM on January 24


"IN GOD'S NAME, MOVE YOUR HEAD!!!" Link goes to some very NSFW comic scans
posted by kosher_jenny at 2:10 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe

I could almost admire your grown up certainty that the child's interest trumps all.

But then I looked at the strange words you just used to describe the man's situation and the woman's behavior - "sucks" - "sneaky".

These aren't adult terms. They're childish camouflage for - presumably - a reality you don't really want to name.

"Sucks" is how a class detention feels, "sneaky" is your friend's kid brother.
They've got nothing to do with the effect of a profound act of planned, sexual betrayal.

Sure, you can make an unpopular principled stand here any time you like. But don't pretend the circumstances are just the stuff of the schoolyard.

(This comment assumes - like the legal expert did in the post - that what the father says is true.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:11 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe, you are incorrect, assuming the man isn't lying.

Assuming oral sex was the only act that took place, neither child nor mother has any claim. Simply because his sperm was used to inseminate the mother does not make the man financially liable for supporting the kid.

Let's say a man masturbates in a bathroom, wipes up the mess with a wad of TP and throws the TP in the trash can. He has not committed any act that can reasonably be expected to result in the creation of a child. If some woman comes along fishes the TP out of the trash can and crams it up her twat, he's not responsible because he had no reasonable way of foreseeing her actions and no reasonable expectation of getting anyone pregnant. Same goes for oral sex. It is physically impossible for any woman to become impregnated by taking a load in the mouth. Just because his sperm was used without his knowledge or consent and against what any court must determine to be reasonable expectations doesn't mean he's on the hook to support some unwanted child for eighteen years.
posted by krash2fast at 2:19 PM on January 24, 2008


The kid is still his kid, and the kid has the same claim on its father that any other kid has.

Does it follow that you're pro-life? Since it's not an embryo's fault that it's mother doesn't wish to be pregnant?
posted by arianell at 2:20 PM on January 24, 2008


okay, I missed the almost identical example in the story.... sorry!
posted by krash2fast at 2:22 PM on January 24, 2008


Hate to say this, krash2fast, but you ruined your comment with "fishes the TP out of the trash can and crams it up her twat".
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:25 PM on January 24, 2008


kosher_jenny : "IN GOD'S NAME, MOVE YOUR HEAD!!!"

That btw is basically straight out of Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex by Larry Niven (originally published in print in 1971.)
posted by XMLicious at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2008


Rou_Xenophobe is almost certainly right. There's a lot of people who imagine that the law exists to produce some kind of universally constant "justice." No. The law exists to do what's needed to be done in the interest of a stable, safe society. In this case it's almost certainly in the interest of society that fathers, regardless of whether they were "deceived", be forced to support the children they create. This is just the way the cookie crumbles. If consensual sex leads to a child then somebody has to take care of it and it should probably be the parents. A child isn't like purchasing a car, there's no option of "returning" it. It's a whole new human life that must be cared for one way or another.

f some woman comes along fishes the TP out of the trash can and crams it up her twat, he's not responsible because he had no reasonable way of foreseeing her actions and no reasonable expectation of getting anyone pregnant.

I think an argument could be made here that the man had been raped and the "sex" was not consensual. In this case I'd expect the woman to actually be penalized for this sort of theft and the child to be given to the state.

Same goes for oral sex.

Not really. Provided you could ever prove that the only thing that occurred was oral sex (doubtful, as there's now a baby in the world) this is one of those things where the courts have to act in the interest of society at large.
posted by nixerman at 2:40 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


If I give someone a tool set for Christmas and they use it to steal a car, should I have to pay back the original owner for the full cost of the vehicle? Certainly that would be in the interests of society at large.

For the record, though, this guy is most likely trying to pull a scam, and shame on him.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:06 PM on January 24, 2008


Rou_Xenophobe is almost certainly right. There's a lot of people who imagine that the law exists to produce some kind of universally constant "justice." No. The law exists to do what's needed to be done in the interest of a stable, safe society. In this case it's almost certainly in the interest of society that fathers, regardless of whether they were "deceived", be forced to support the children they create

I've heard this argument the last time we had this discussion. It doesn't make any sense. First of all, most people do think that the purpose of the law is to create justice. I mean, they don't call it the "Department of Justice" for nothing. And if the purpose of the law isn't to promote Justice then what's the point?

Martin Luther King, Jr said that unjust laws ought not to be followed, and should be repealed. Are you saying you're a racist? The argument you're making is virtually identical to those who supported segregation and. opposed the Civil Rights movement. No doubt, if those uppity Negros just followed the law, things would be much safer and calmer. Better for society, or at least most people in it.

Law without Justice is a recipe for dictatorship of the mob. It is, in my view just about as reprehensible as outright racism.
posted by delmoi at 3:29 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


So these two sperm are swimming through the goo.

One of them is racing along, whipping his tail, going as fast as he can. "I'm gonna fertilize the HELL out of that EGG, man, I'm gonna beat all y'all bitches and POW! ZYGOTE! YEAH! WOO!!! EYE OF THE TIGER!!!"

His companion says, "Relax, dude, we aren't even past the esophagus yet."
posted by louche mustachio at 3:45 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe, would you feel the same way if the man were raped?

Yes. It's unfortunate for the man that his rape is compounded by having to pay money to the product of his rape, but being the fruit of a rape isn't the child's fault. There's still a child, who is demonstrably his child, that has a claim support from both parents.

I'm not crazy. I'd support safeguards so that the support demonstrably went to the child and not the rapist/liar/cheat of a mother, such as provision in kind rather than money, or in establishing some manner of trust for the child's behalf, or both, or whatever.

Can't a mother give up rights to a child she is unfit whether financially, emotionally, or physically, to care for?

Maybe. I don't know the current state of the law. I'd be surprised if a mother could simply make her child a ward of the state if the known father hadn't had his custodial rights stripped for some reason, but I'm often surprised.

"Sucks" is how a class detention feels, "sneaky" is your friend's kid brother.
They've got nothing to do with the effect of a profound act of planned, sexual betrayal.


Fine. It is profoundly unfortunate for the man to have to support a child that is the result of despicably duplicitous behavior on her part, but that's still not the child's fault. Lots of profoundly unfortunate things happen to lots of people every day, and if the most profoundly unfortunate thing that this man ever suffered was having to pay unexpected child support, he would be lucky.

So a woman who was raped should be prevented from having an abortion because the father wants the baby to come to term? It is his kid, after all.

No. Control over your own body and your own risks of death is more important than mere money. Yes, it's unfair that a man gets no choice over whether a woman carrying his child decides to deliver or abort the child, but this unfairness is rooted in simple biology. This will be interesting when technological options exist to simply extract an embryo/fetus and bring it to term in an incubator or paid host because the father wants the child, binding the unwilling mother to child support.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:46 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Too right, nixerman--the law values the interests of society. It does not favor men who decline to support their offspring. Given that the English common law remains the foundation of American law, and the common law recognized only the old in-out as the proximate cause of conception, the law presumes that the existence of a child is proof that The Wild Thing occurred. To overcome that presumption, one who asserts otherwise must prove--to a court's satisfaction that some other event caused the pregnancy. This, by the way, is pretty hard to do, in the absence of evidence that artificial insemination occurred.

Here we have two doctors: one has tried to make the court believe that the other undertook to artificially inseminate herself al fresco. Is it any wonder that the court believed the doctor who admitted that an actual hot beef injection had been administered by the other?

On the "gift" issue, a gift is anything given without consideration with an intent to transfer ownership of the item. It cannot be said that one who shoots and leaves has any intention of reclaiming the wad.
posted by rdone at 3:56 PM on January 24, 2008


Yes. It's unfortunate for the man that his rape is compounded by having to pay money to the product of his rape, but being the fruit of a rape isn't the child's fault. There's still a child, who is demonstrably his child, that has a claim support from both parents.

That's idiotic.
posted by delmoi at 4:04 PM on January 24, 2008


ROU_Xenophobe: I'm... not necessarily going to jump on your wagon, but I can see a means by which you can eke 'fairness' out of your description. If the man is irrevocably responsible for the child's well being, but can demonstrate in a civil suit that the woman became pregnant with explicit intent to extort or otherwise inflict harm upon him, he might well be entitled to a separate judgment to offset his obligation.

This mechanism might also apply in the claim of rape raised elsewhere.

That presumes that I accept your premise, which, given statements like
but this unfairness is rooted in simple biology
grows more unlikely.

Which is a shame, because it sounds like you're coming from a conscientious (if drastically oversimplified) perspective.
posted by abulafa at 4:31 PM on January 24, 2008


ROU_Xenophobe: Yes. It's unfortunate for the man that his rape is compounded by having to pay money to the product of his rape, but being the fruit of a rape isn't the child's fault. There's still a child, who is demonstrably his child, that has a claim support from both parents.

Call me crazy, but I just don't see you trying to force child support out of a raped woman who had a child because of it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:37 PM on January 24, 2008


My personal take on this? This child does have a claim on the father, but the father has an equivalent claim on the mother (since his liability is entirely her fault.) As such, I suggest the baby be adopted out to a less crazy third party (unless the father wants it, I suppose) and the birth mother should have to pay both her child support and the unwilling birth father's.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:48 PM on January 24, 2008


i believe that the child has a claim of support from his father. the alternative is that all of us poor schmoes collectively - who didn't even get a bj for our trouble - support the child. why should i have to do that?
posted by bruce at 4:59 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


If a woman is to have 100% dominion over her reproductive rights, then she must also bear 100% of the financial responsibility. If having a man along to support the child is so important, she should probably find herself a mate, and not just a fuck buddy.

Find me a contraceptive that's 100% effective, and I'm right there with ya. Until then - fuck off.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:02 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


His companion says, "Relax, dude, we aren't even past the esophagus yet."

To which the first one retorts, "Oh, I coulda been somebody!"
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes, rednikki and Seekerofsplendor, it's true, we *can* get all our wacky lawsuit news from watching Boston Legal.
posted by iguanapolitico at 5:20 PM on January 24, 2008


Call me crazy, but I just don't see you trying to force child support out of a raped woman who had a child because of it

You don't see me trying to do anything, and I'd guess that the number of women who are raped, decide to have the child, decide not to abandon the child to the state, but then are somehow in a position to pay child support is very, very small. But it's consistent with what I've said, and it wouldn't be unreasonable to apply if, say, the mother later married a man who adopted the child, and the couple subsequently divorced. It's hard to imagine any other circumstance where it might happen.

If the man is irrevocably responsible for the child's well being, but can demonstrate in a civil suit that the woman became pregnant with explicit intent to extort or otherwise inflict harm upon him, he might well be entitled to a separate judgment to offset his obligation.

Yeah, I thought of that too. It seems reasonable.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:39 PM on January 24, 2008


The Light Fantastic: Find me a contraceptive that's 100% effective, and I'm right there with ya. Until then - fuck off.
Well that was a sensible response. So I'm to assume you don't believe a woman has a right to an abortion- at least not without the genetic father's consent first, or perhaps the State in lieu of the father?

What part of this is complicated for your or ROU_Xenophobe to comprehend? While I acknowledged that the reality is a state that gives two shits about justice or fairness, and just doesn't want to support one-parent families, if anyone were interested in justice this is as clear and simple as it can be.

If a woman is to have 100% dominion over her body- the right to choose her sexual partners, the right to choose when to have sex, the right to practice any and all safe forms of birth control, and the right to have an abortion- all without any interference from the genetic father, or her partner (because they aren't necessarily the same)... well, that right has a cost: you shouldn't expect that everyone else, or even one other person, is responsible for the series of choices you made that led you to having a child.

Biology, as ROU_Xenophobe notes, is fairly clear on this: only women can get pregnant. That gives them exclusive rights on the option of child bearing, but comparably should also have the exclusive responsibilities.
sonotohito: hincandenza Yeah! Stupid sluts, how dare they get pregnant just 'cuz us decent, honest, honorable, and in no way at all slutty men fuck them without contraception!

Nice to see the anti-choice position so clearly spelled out. Its about slut punishing, not life.

Get a grip cousin. Women have 100% control over their bodies because, and I know this is hard for a lot of people raised in the patriarchy to understand, they own their bodies. You do not own a woman's body just becuase you had sex with her. If men gestated babies, it'd be 100% their choice and women wouldn't get any say.

As far as child support goes? I'd say thats a really good reason for men to wear condoms and take a bit of responsibility, no?
Christ, that's so flamingly unbelievably retarded I probably shouldn't respond, but I find it irresistable. When you find someone so mind-numbingly obtuse, how can you avoid poking at them with the logic stick?

Clearly my comments spell out a redonkulouslyy PRO-choice position. Read what I said, and put down the "womyn roolz while men droolz" Smith College text book for a second. It's... positively ASTOUNDING that you can put insulting, inflammatory words in my mouth, then so flippantly say "Hey, the man should wear a condom"... especially since the whole fucking post was about the case of a woman using semen to get pregnant intentionally. When you did the tired "If men got pregnant... blah blah blah" angry over-reacting feminist retort, it was screamingly obvious the follow-up thought never entered your head "... and I'd gladly pay child support to pregnant men, even if they stole my eggs when we were practicing safe sex!"

Good lord, you're an unbelievable moron. I just couldn't not say that, I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight...
posted by hincandenza at 5:55 PM on January 24, 2008



If a woman is to have 100% dominion over her reproductive rights, then she must also bear 100% of the financial responsibility. If having a man along to support the child is so important, she should probably find herself a mate, and not just a fuck buddy.

Find me a contraceptive that's 100% effective, and I'm right there with ya. Until then - fuck off.


Well it used to be the case that blow jobs and hand jobs we're a 100% effective contraceptive but I guess not anymore. (Seriously though, the comment is referring to abortion as on preview hincandenza said, which IS a 100% effective birth control. So, you're with her/him then, right?)

Can't a mother give up rights to a child she is unfit whether financially, emotionally, or physically, to care for?

Maybe. I don't know the current state of the law. I'd be surprised if a mother could simply make her child a ward of the state if the known father hadn't had his custodial rights stripped for some reason, but I'm often surprised.


I was being rhetorical. Of course they can. Heard of safe haven laws? ANY woman can not only give up her baby, but in the states I know of can do so anonymously. Here's a link to the Lousiana law on it

Lastly, the male rape or forced to conceive examples aren't very likely or good parallels. What was stated was that in the best interests of the child the man should pay after the fact. So, I would say that it should follow that in the best interests of the child the mother should legally be forced to marry or stay married to the man if she were so after the child was born. Which of course I don't 'think' you believe in though feel free to correct me.
posted by kigpig at 6:12 PM on January 24, 2008


Drink up, ladies
posted by dasheekeejones at 6:42 PM on January 24, 2008


Buggers!

Oh hell, here's the link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/96076/Journal-of-Reproductive-Immunology
posted by dasheekeejones at 6:44 PM on January 24, 2008


If a woman is to have 100% dominion over her body- the right to choose her sexual partners, the right to choose when to have sex, the right to practice any and all safe forms of birth control, and the right to have an abortion- all without any interference from the genetic father, or her partner (because they aren't necessarily the same)... well, that right has a cost: you shouldn't expect that everyone else, or even one other person, is responsible for the series of choices you made that led you to having a child.

Sounds great on paper...let's see how it plays out with the sea-monkeys in your aquarium. Too bad the world isn't so tidy.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:51 PM on January 24, 2008


Well, how about putting a baby up for adoption? At that point in time, two people are surrendering their financial obligations to the child while the society takes that same obligation and mets it out to all its members. Is that not fair? Should we require the genetic parents to pay for the child until adoptive parents are found?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:49 PM on January 24, 2008


Drink up, ladies
posted by dasheekeejones at 6:42 PM on January 24 [+] [!]


I'm honestly not really sure why you wrote that and then linked to my joke about Santa. Huh?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:52 PM on January 24, 2008


On preview... nevermind.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:53 PM on January 24, 2008


(Almost) what Mitrovarr said.

(The "almost" is because, well, he did leave her a batch of baby batter, you know? Certainly no one expected her to use it, but either I give him a little bit of responsibility or I proclaim that no, we men are not to be expected to take any responsibility for what we do with our reproductive material, and the latter is a pretty demeaning sort of position to take.)
posted by eritain at 10:15 PM on January 24, 2008


I attempted to apply some logical thought and awareness of modern technological advances to this conundrum, and came out with some shit that's sure to piss everyone off:

Two people choose to have consensual sex. They choose to incur the risk, from large to none, depending on contraceptive method, that a pregnancy will result.

Assume a pregnancy results.

At this point, another choice is made: to keep the baby or to abort/give up for adoption.

Costs will or may be incurred with either choice. To whom does the choice belong and to whom should the costs fall?

If the choice to keep the baby or not falls solely on the woman, but the man must pay if the woman chooses to keep the baby, something's off. I can't think of situations where it's proper that one competent adult's choice legally binds another competent adult to major financial losses. Therefore, if men must pay child support for any child of theirs, having the child must be a choice of both. This leads to men being able to force women to get an abortion, which, because of freedom over one's own body, I think is wrong.

Therefore, if the choice to abort or not is to be solely the woman's, then she is responsible for the costs incurred by not aborting. So, let's look at the four scenarios:

-Neither wants the baby. Abortion or adoption, with the financial burden of the abortion or birth legally falling on both.
-Both want the baby. In this case some legal mechanism should be in place to register this, and they are both responsible for child support, either in the more ideal sense of a relationship or through court-ordered payments.
-Woman wants the baby, man does not. The man is not liable for child support. He is not responsible for the woman's choice to keep the baby.
-Man wants the baby, woman does not. The man can't force the woman not to abort, but I'd argue there could be some mechanism where the woman could choose to carry the baby to term but then be absolved of responsibility.

I never went and thought about this before, but it sure did go some interesting places. Obviously all sorts of edge cases (luckily paternity tests exist) and details to be worked out, but it seems more cogent to me than what currently goes on. It solves this oral sex case, for sure.

Of course, in a civilized society, children would be supported no matter what and this whole thing would be much less of an issue.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:28 PM on January 24, 2008


Suddenly I'm glad, so glad that I have my two wonderful kids (whose mother I am married to), and at the same time that I know how to have an orgasm without ejaculating (not that it's anything I'd rely on as a contraceptive, but it's quite useful in oral sex situations; no spitting or swallowing necessary.)

and no, I'm not telling you how. I read it somewhere when I was younger, and it works, and no it's not the method you're thinking of, that would hurt.
posted by davejay at 1:39 AM on January 25, 2008


These aren't adult terms. They're childish camouflage for - presumably - a reality you don't really want to name.
.....
"Sucks" is how a class detention feels, "sneaky" is your friend's kid brother.


Usage of the vernacular is not necessarily juvenile, and should, of course, vary depending upon the audience, prior tradition, comprehensibility and other factors. In this case, calling it childish and presuming some inability to face reality is unnecessarily insulting, when the terms used are also clearly understandable and admirably brief. If this were a graded sociology essay, you might have a point, but it isn't, so put down the plate of beans and walk slowly away.

/derail
posted by Sparx at 2:19 AM on January 25, 2008


nobeagle writes "Not that I'm getting blow jobs from random people, but things like this make me even more glad to have had a vasectomy. Best. Procedure. Ever."

Eponysterical.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:43 AM on January 25, 2008


Also: the Becker story.

Gentlemen: only accept any future blowjobs on the clear and explicit understanding that the recipient will swallow every last drop of your spooge, and will follow up the procedure by gargling with a spermicidal mouthwash. Insist on a scrupulous oral inspection to ensure that these imperatives have been followed rigorously.

Anything less would be grossly irresponsible on your part.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:52 AM on January 25, 2008


sonotohito: hincandenza Yeah! Stupid sluts, how dare they get pregnant just 'cuz us decent, honest, honorable, and in no way at all slutty men fuck them without contraception!

Nice to see the anti-choice position so clearly spelled out. Its about slut punishing, not life.


Truly moronic.

Not an anti-abortion sentiment in hincandenza's entire comment.

In fact the argument that men must pay child support for a life-altering decision that was 100% not theirs to make is an argument that men must be punished for having sex. If punishing female sluts is the heart of anti-abortion arguments, then punishing male sluts is the heart of the paternity theft argument.

And while women would have a minimum life-altering obligation of 9 months under their slut punishment (what with adoption and all), men have a minimum life-altering obligation of 18 years under their slut punishment. 23x longer: a lifetime burden.

Conception and birth are a woman's right and a woman's right alone. The woman has 100% of the rights and 100% of the responsibilities in the decision to have a child. It is 100% her body, and 100% her decision what goes into it, and 100% her decision what comes out of it.

No one can force women to have and support a child she does not wish to have and support. And no one can force a man to have and support a child he does not wish to have and support.

The act of having sex is not a Magic Act with some sort of moral obligation to reproduce tied into it. This is the soul of the anti-Choice belief. But sex and reproduction are two different acts and two entirely different decisions. Sex entails NO reproductive obligations for men and women.

I repeat:

Sex entails NO reproductive obligations for men and women.
posted by dgaicun at 4:47 AM on January 25, 2008


Usage of the vernacular is not necessarily juvenile, and should, of course, vary depending upon the audience, prior tradition, comprehensibility and other factors. In this case, calling it childish and presuming some inability to face reality is unnecessarily insulting, when the terms used are also clearly understandable and admirably brief. If this were a graded sociology essay, you might have a point, but it isn't, so put down the plate of beans and walk slowly away.

Sparx,
Totally disagree.

When the vernacular is used selectively,as it was strikingly here, the reader can feel manipulated.

Yes "sucks" and "sneaky" are concise. No argument there.

ROU_Xenophobe, however, conspicuously avoided slang terms elsewhere in the comment.

In fact, the surrounding vocabulary was pointedly formal: mother, father, claim against his father, might or might not have done, consented to be born, actual child, unexpected child. It wasn't at all the language of the schoolyard.

This subtly emphasized the standard nature of the traditional, formal relationship between two parents and their birth child.


The slang terms lent a disarmingly informal tone to the terms relating to the mother's astonishing deliberate non-standard deception "sneaky" and the father's significantly long term and unusual burden in the strange circumstances - hence: "sucks".

So - if you like - I was looking at the whole comment as a sociology essay - because I'm an anal git. And not just the slang out of context.

(And, in my defense, I thought this use of slang was obvious.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:49 AM on January 25, 2008


Jody, I feel like maybe you got your steam up with the rightful rebuke of krash's "crams it up her twat" line and sort of carried that on into a needless overanalysis of "sucks" and "sneaky" as somehow being the thing to focus on. Plate of beans, as it were. As one anal git to another.
posted by cortex at 8:13 AM on January 25, 2008


You are overanalyzing informal conversation on the internet, but where would the internet be without that? If it was a function of anything, it was me trying not to appear like a great big dork. Because I am also an anal git. But well bleached.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:33 AM on January 25, 2008


Christ, that's so flamingly unbelievably retarded I probably shouldn't respond, but I find it irresistable. When you find someone so mind-numbingly obtuse, how can you avoid poking at them with the logic stick?

Clearly my comments spell out a redonkulouslyy PRO-choice position. Read what I said, and put down the "womyn roolz while men droolz" Smith College text book for a second. It's... positively ASTOUNDING that you can put insulting, inflammatory words in my mouth, then so flippantly say "Hey, the man should wear a condom"... especially since the whole fucking post was about the case of a woman using semen to get pregnant intentionally. When you did the tired "If men got pregnant... blah blah blah" angry over-reacting feminist retort, it was screamingly obvious the follow-up thought never entered your head "... and I'd gladly pay child support to pregnant men, even if they stole my eggs when we were practicing safe sex!"

Good lord, you're an unbelievable moron. I just couldn't not say that, I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight...


hincandenza, poke yourself. By your argument, no man should never have any responsibility for his children in this case or any other, because having an abortion is always 100% the woman's choice. I suppose thats an argument you could make if you want to, but it doesn't have much to do with the subject of this post.

Abortion is the woman's choice because the pregnancy affects them very differently than it does a man, and one can quite reasonably argue that a fetus is not a human with human rights. Once a child is born, though, it is just as much that man's child as it is the woman's. You might think she could have prevented it's birth, but so could he, his 'only oral sex' argument notwithstanding. It's quite easy to imagine that a woman might use a man's sperm to get pregnant if thats what she wanted, even if she acquired it through oral sex. When he decided to have *any* kind of sex with her, he was taking a chance on a pregnancy. He might have been trying to minimize his chances, but he wasn't fully avoiding them. Further, I think it should be reiterated, that she disputes his claim that it was 'only' oral sex.

Seriously, if this defense were to hold up *ANY* guy could claim 'hey, we only ever had oral sex'. Give me a break.
posted by Reverend John at 9:02 AM on January 25, 2008


hincandenza It looked anti-choice to me. If you say your comment wasn't, I'll take your word for it, but, in my experience, when people complain about abortion being 100% the woman's choice, they're coming from the anti-choice camp.

Its quite telling that your reaction to criticism is to lash out at Smith College and all the other strawfeminists that are so beloved of the anti-feminist movement.

For the record, I'm male and I've got nothing against my fellow men, and I've never attended Smith. But do continue to demonstrate that you are incapiable of disagreeing without hauling out all of the pathetic and silly anti-feminist props.

As for child support in general, I think it is a flawed system working from flawed assumptions. Which your rant didn't do much to address.
posted by sotonohito at 9:34 AM on January 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


By your argument, no man should never have any responsibility for his children in this case or any other, because having an abortion is always 100% the woman's choice.

Incorrect. No man or woman should have any responsibility for a child they did not wish to have and support. Having sex is not a reproductive commitment, and cannot be regarded as such.

Once a child is born, though, it is just as much that man's child as it is the woman's.

No, the child belongs to the party or parties that affirm a reproductive commitment to have and support the child. If the man expresses this commitment, once the baby has been born, but not the woman, then this is who becomes the baby's legal caretaker. If neither express this commitment, and there are no other claimants upon birth, then the baby is either post-natally aborted or becomes a ward of the state.

You might think she could have prevented it's birth, but so could he...

Punishing sluts.

The act of having sex carries no moral obligation or responsibility to reproduce. Period.
posted by dgaicun at 9:39 AM on January 25, 2008


Cortex/ ROU_Xenophobe

Both your comments above were remarkably restrained.

I think my words now appear mildly unhinged - but I didn't think that at all at the time - which is baffling.

Fair cop. Sorry.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:58 AM on January 25, 2008


Sparx,
Also - your comment? Perceptive - not wrong.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:09 AM on January 25, 2008


The act of having sex carries no moral obligation or responsibility to reproduce. Period.

Perhaps, but once one has reproduced, one has a moral obligation to their child. You can say that a woman who has had sex is not obliged to reproduce, so therefore may have an abortion. You may say that a man who has sex is not obliged to reproduce so may use contraceptives or avoid vaginal sex.

Nevertheless, if one reproduces anyway, then one has a moral responsibility to their child.
posted by Reverend John at 10:31 AM on January 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


No sweat, Jody. Heat of the moment, meters get uncalibrated.
posted by cortex at 10:41 AM on January 25, 2008


Oh, and dgaicun, are you advocating legitimizing neonaticide? Because if you are, well... I think the arguments laid out in the article you linked to are interesting enough in the abstract, but thats somewhere, pro-choice though I am, that I'm not interested in going.
posted by Reverend John at 10:46 AM on January 25, 2008


You may say that a man who has sex is not obliged to reproduce so may use contraceptives or avoid vaginal sex.

You can switch man to woman in that sentence and make an argument against the legality of abortion.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:46 PM on January 25, 2008


Perhaps, but once one has reproduced, one has a moral obligation to their child.

No, it is not "your child" (whoever you may be) until it is separate from the woman and you have explicitly claimed it as such. Again, there is no "moral obligation" to reproduce (i.e. create and take care of a person) that comes with sex. This a Pro-Life fiction that is as false for men as it is for women. It says that people who have sex have a moral obligation to reproduce. Sluts must be punished by shouldering the reproductive consequences of their sex.

This is bullshit. There are no reproductive obligations that come with having sex. There are only reproductive obligations for people who explicitly and voluntarily legally assent to the caretaker role of a dependent. That is the only reproductive obligation that anyone should have: to take care of someone you have explicitly agreed to take care of.

You can say that a woman who has had sex is not obliged to reproduce, so therefore may have an abortion.

Not only can I say that, I can say she has no obligation to take care of a child that exits her vagina, that she does not wish to claim responsibility for.

You may say that a man who has sex is not obliged to reproduce so may use contraceptives or avoid vaginal sex.

Not only can I say that... (see arguments above)

Oh, and dgaicun, are you advocating legitimizing neonaticide? Because if you are, well...

Well... what? Yes, I advocate that.
posted by dgaicun at 3:32 PM on January 25, 2008


Well, I guess this is simply where we part ways. If you could look at a crying just born child and say that its mother and father have no obligation to take care of it then you ... well, I would question your humanity. I'm not even disputing that birth is a somewhat arbitrary dividing line, or that the pro-neonaticide article you cited isn't fairly persuasive in the abstract, but a line does need to be drawn somewhere and I think birth is a fairly sharp division.

Furthermore, I am not saying "sluts must be punished blah blah blah". I'm sure you noticed I'm pro-contraception and pro-choice. There is plenty of time to prevent the birth of a child before it is born, and long, long after the sex which led it its conception has finished. This isn't about punishing sluts. This is about protecting a real, viable, born child. I mean, for goodness sake, if you can decide to turn your back on it after birth why not later still? Why not at two years? "Man, this toddler sure is a brat! I didn't sign up for this! You should be grateful for what you've already gotten from me! I've only been supporting you out of the goodness of my heart! Show me where I signed any form claiming responsibility for you!"

Suffice to say that I think if a child has been born and you are one of its biological parents, you have a responsibility to make sure it is taken care of.

Oh, and TOCT, I don't think you could make that argument simply by switch the gender in that sentence. The availability of contraception to women doesn't affect the morality of abortion one way or the other. As dgaicun said, sex is not an obligation to reproduce, which justifies both contraception and abortion. However once one has successfully reproduced, with the birth of a child, I would say one has an obligation to support that child to the best of one's abilities.
posted by Reverend John at 6:14 PM on January 25, 2008


> Oh, and dgaicun, are you advocating legitimizing neonaticide? Because if you are, well...

Well... what? Yes, I advocate that.


Whoa, I just peeked my head in here to find apparent madness. dgaicun, you seriously are in favor of permitting infanticide?
posted by XMLicious at 7:09 PM on January 25, 2008


You've devised a situation where the woman gets a choice, after sex resulting in pregnancy, whether or not to support a child, but the man does not. Your situation is: "Women, don't want to support a child? Cool, have sex. Men, don't want to support a child? Not allowed to have sex." It's not a complete argument against abortion, but a point against it, because if the second is right then for consistency let's go to "Women, don't want to support a child? Don't have sex, so abortion isn't necessary."

I posted what I think is a logical solution up here. It allows the woman a free choice to abort or not, and allows both the man and the woman a free choice whether or not to support a child. Note that I acknowledged that one parent's choice whether or not to support a child may depend on the other parent's commitment and decided to put in a mechanism for binding child support in this case.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:37 PM on January 25, 2008


Guys, read the Steven Pinker article.

I mean, for goodness sake, if you can decide to turn your back on it after birth why not later still? Why not at two years?

This is a slippery slope argument. We could apply the same logic to any pro-abortion demarcation point. Read the article, or better yet, Mother Nature, for why post-natal abortion would not (and does not) callous mothers to accepted children or anyone else:
Some philosophers suggest that people intuitively see neonates as so similar to older babies that you couldn't allow neonaticide without coarsening the way people treat children and other people in general. Again, the facts say otherwise. Studies in both modern and hunter-gatherer societies have found that neonaticidal women don't kill anyone but their newborns, and when they give birth later under better conditions, they can be devoted, loving mothers.
I'm not even disputing that birth is a somewhat arbitrary dividing line, or that the pro-neonaticide article you cited isn't fairly persuasive in the abstract,

In other words you don't have any logical competing arguments. It just gives you an icky feeling. (the same "wisdom of repugnance" conservatives cite for their own opposition to all abortion)

but a line does need to be drawn somewhere and I think birth is a fairly sharp division.

I agree, a line does need to be drawn somewhere and immediately after birth is the best and most natural line for human beings. This is covered in the Mother Nature book: traditional human mothers have always, and are psychologically/emotionally programmed to decide whether to accept and claim an infant after it is born. Since children represent such a large commitment for women, a very important calculus had to made throughout history once a child was born about the infant's chances for survival given its health and the woman's own resource situation. If the woman decided not, she would allow it to die or kill it, and feel very little lasting emotion about this choice. If she decided to claim the infant, on the other hand, her full suite of maternal instincts bonded her to the infant.

Furthermore, I am not saying "sluts must be punished blah blah blah".

No, this is exactly what you are arguing:

I'm pro-contraception and pro-choice. There is plenty of time to prevent the birth of a child before it is born, and long, long after the sex which led it its conception has finished.

Wrong, there is no time after conception the man has any say in the prevention of the birth. Men are obligated, in your model, to care for unclaimed children only because they had sex. This is clearly slut punishment, i.e. the belief that sex carries moral obligations of reproduction. And females have no obligation to have an abortion or take any sort of measure to prevent the birth within their body. It is their body, and they have full dominion over it. Having sex does not carry the obligation to care for any dependent, even when the act causes a fetus. And carrying that fetus to term does not carry any obligation to care for any dependent either. The decisions have nothing to do with each other. The ONLY decision that morally obligates responsibility for a dependent is the explicit decision to care for a dependent.

Logistically, immediately after birth is the only time anyone can rightfully claim an infant as their dependent, because before birth it is simply part of the woman's body.

A delivered infant that is not claimed by an interested party, can either be claimed by the state, and taken into some sort of care system until the time it can be claimed as a dependent and adopted out. Or it can be aborted soon after birth at the hospital if no one claims it. This is a perfectly legitimate, and superior medical, moral, and legal demarcation point for human life.
posted by dgaicun at 8:38 PM on January 25, 2008


Whoa, I just peeked my head in here to find apparent madness. dgaicun, you seriously are in favor of permitting infanticide?

It's not all that aberrant in history or biology, though personally, to err on the side of caution in protecting human life, I think the cutoff point for abortion has to be somewhere in the range of viability to birth,.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:41 PM on January 25, 2008


It's not all that aberrant in history or biology

Not a really great metric for distinguishing right from wrong. Homicide of all sorts is not aberrant in history or biology.
posted by XMLicious at 9:13 PM on January 25, 2008



This is really simple if you think about it.

Sex Causes Pregnancy - A Decision Causes Birth

While you're there you might want to look at my other work, which includes a recent article on interpreting the Constitution, and an article on whether the loser should pay all legal fees.
posted by LeeroyFDermit at 9:15 PM on January 25, 2008


Let's see if the link works this time.

Sex Causes Pregnancy - A Decision Causes Birth
posted by LeeroyFDermit at 9:19 PM on January 25, 2008


> I mean, for goodness sake, if you can decide to turn your back
> on it after birth why not later still? Why not at two years?

This is a slippery slope argument.


A slippery slope argument, as in the logical fallacy, is something like "X is equivalent to Y because X is a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to Y".

But he's not saying that. He's not saying that killing a neonate is equivalent to killing a two-year-old. He's asking whether the reasoning you use to justify killing the neonate could also be applied to killing a two-year-old.

If all the moral reasoning you're using could be applied to killing any human of any age then your assertion that this is a "superior medical, moral, and legal demarcation point for human life" is erroneous - you're simply saying it's more practical or more convenient, not superior.
posted by XMLicious at 9:44 PM on January 25, 2008


Here's another notable angle: if you really hold to your reasoning, any killing of a neonate ought to be okay or at least no longer equivalent to murder. So if a child who is desired by the parents, or is a ward of the state, is killed against the wishes of the guardian, that should be construed as some sort of property damage, not as murder.
posted by XMLicious at 9:52 PM on January 25, 2008


He's asking whether the reasoning you use to justify killing the neonate could also be applied to killing a two-year-old.

Given that it is obvious why this would not apply to two year olds in my comments (I assume people read my arguments), I naturally interpret Reverend John's "question" as a rhetorical argument for slippery slope. But, OK, fine:

The answer is 'obviously, no'. That is why it is called the demarcation point. It is the point where the baby is christened as a human being and a claimed dependent; it is simultaneously granted parental guardianship and legal protection by the state. Whether the line is drawn 3 months before birth or 30 years after, that is where the line is drawn. I have already explained why mine is the optimal place for this line.
posted by dgaicun at 10:02 PM on January 25, 2008


So if a child who is desired by the parents, or is a ward of the state, is killed against the wishes of the guardian, that should be construed as some sort of property damage, not as murder.

*Sigh*, no XMLicious. It has already been claimed, therefore it is recognized and protected as a human being by the state.
posted by dgaicun at 10:06 PM on January 25, 2008


What you said there doesn't make sense and is self-contradictory*sigh*. On one hand you're saying that obviously the same reasoning doesn't apply to a two-year old, then you literally said right there that the line could be drawn anywhere. That is in no way obvious and would make choosing the demarcation point a matter of policy, not a matter of moral reasoning.

Recognition by the state of a person isn't the reason why it's wrong to commit murder. It's either murder or it isn't, whether or not a state even exists.
posted by XMLicious at 10:31 PM on January 25, 2008


Arrgh. Well, the 2nd one was my finished version.
posted by XMLicious at 10:32 PM on January 25, 2008


What you said there doesn't make sense and is self-contradictory*sigh*. On one hand you're saying that obviously the same reasoning doesn't apply to a two-year old, then you literally said right there that the line could be drawn anywhere.

Simply because it is possible to make life legally begin at age 4, 11, or 56, is not to say that it would be a logical or moral law for any of these ages. There is no contradiction. I clearly explained why aborting a neonate is logical and moral while killing older children is not. There are no boundary problems unique to this demarcation point, and it fares better than the birth and later trimester demarcation points.


That is in no way obvious and would make choosing the demarcation point a matter of policy, not a matter of moral reasoning.


Where to put the line is a necessary legal question decided by the conflicting moral opinions of millions of different people filtered through national democratic politics.


Recognition by the state of a person isn't the reason why it's wrong to commit murder. It's either murder or it isn't, whether or not a state even exists.

Nothing I have said has implied otherwise.

It's no different between this law or any other possible law. Some people will disagree and think it's murder, and that's fine. Many, many people think all abortion is murder right now, but it's the law, so the "murderers" don't get punished. Other people think prostitution is not morally wrong, but it is against the law, so the "innocent" get punished. You can't avoid this.

I have stated my position repeatedly and built it on and defended it with moral reasoning, explicitly contrasting it, morally, with the alternatives. So I don't see where you're going here.

Do you have any actual logical objections to my demarcation point?
posted by dgaicun at 11:51 PM on January 25, 2008


And I notice XMLicious, that you have not defended a position here of your own, and tested it against its alternatives. This conveniently allows you to make criticisms of me that may apply to your own position. This is not how dialogue works. Perfect solutions do not exist, only better solutions.

Since you have explicitly contrasted my degeneracy to your moral probity on the abortion issue, you should state your own opinions openly and clearly. Critics without their own viewpoints are just sniping trolls.
posted by dgaicun at 12:13 AM on January 26, 2008


I'll bite on the infanticide argument.

The mother may have a biological instinct to decide whether to keep or kill the infant, but she is also afforded the legal right in this society to abandon the child without punishment. Once born, the child is no longer physically dependent upon the mother and as such giving up the child is no more taxing to her than killing it. So essentially there's no need I can see to grant this right. Which brings me around full circle. The arguments I see above that are pro a man paying seem to be based on the implicit assumption that the mother is held to the financial burden of caretaking, which around these parts at least (and I suspect in most western style democracies) she is not.

So I would presume that those of you advocating that a man pay for a child once born are fully against the safe abandonment laws? Because right now the law is indefensibly unequal.

In addition, it seems to undermine the idea that a woman can successfully raise a child alone if the man must be there to help her out. She would have had a good portion of a 9 month gestation period to determine with confidence that the man would help in the caretaking. If she chooses to have the child anyway, then she has assumed responsibility for the child, to either give up or care for.

If both parents are to be held responsible after birth, does the man by virtue of parenting it, also have a claim on the child as well?
posted by kigpig at 12:05 PM on January 26, 2008


Critics without their own viewpoints are just sniping trolls.

Sorry if I was unclear, I think that infanticide would be wrong. That's the position I was putting forward and defending.

But speaking of trawling, you're trying to drag me into the abortion debate, aren't you? Fine. For the same reasons - because I think it's wrong to kill people - I'm probably what you would call "pro-life".

I clearly explained why aborting a neonate is logical and moral while killing older children is not.

I just went up and again re-read everything you wrote. No, you did not clearly explain why killing older children is not logical or moral. At best there's maybe an implicit (and fallacious) argument in some of the assertions you made about historical behavior of mothers in the context of infanticide. So your melodramatic sighing, et cetera, is pompous and diversionary.

> Recognition by the state of a person isn't the reason why it's
> wrong to commit murder. It's either murder or it isn't, whether or
> not a state even exists.

Nothing I have said has implied otherwise.


You very directly stated so. I said, "If killing unwanted neonates isn't murder, why isn't killing a wanted neonate murder?" and you responded It has already been claimed, therefore it is recognized and protected as a human being by the state. That makes it the state that decides who is a person and who is not independent of any innate nature or capacities of the neonate.

At this point it is seeming to me as though you are primarily responding to me by mischaracterizing other things you've said.

For what it's worth though, you seem to have reached some of the same conclusions I have, in that the key issue of the abortion debate is whether or not a child or a fetus is the same sort of moral entity as people it's wrong to kill.
posted by XMLicious at 2:41 PM on January 26, 2008


First, dgaicun, I'd like to point out that XMLicious has just as much right to address your arguments as you had to address mine which were originally aimed at hincandenza. He doesn't need to ante up with his own explicitly stated viewpoint to defend mine or object to yours, people are allowed to engage in a give and take and allow their views to be expressed through the process. This is how dialog works, so do please extend others the same courtesy they've given you.

Second, since you said

I agree, a line does need to be drawn somewhere and immediately after birth is the best and most natural line for human beings.

I'd like you to pin down more precisely what you mean by 'immediately'. Are we talking 5 minutes? 24 hours? A month? A year? And when you pick a time, tell me why a minute later, or twice that time period wouldn't also be morally acceptable. The advantage of birth as the demarcation point is that it is a clear transition. The fetus has changed from being a part of the mother's body, as you said, into a baby. Now, we might quibble over whether or not that baby is truly human, and if it isn't when that occurs, but unless we can ever really pin that answer down we'll never have another clear dividing line like birth. The moral ickyness argument carries more weight for me after birth than before because the child *WILL* become human some time after birth, but how will we know when? As I said I find the arguments for the non-humanity of a newborn persuasive in the abstract, so obviously I would support abortion right up to birth, but on the other hand, a newborn is not some abstract argument.

Also, the phrase you keep using about 'slut punishment' is pretty loaded. I think most people would agree that the word 'slut' has strong feminine connotations. If you want to say that I'm in favor of a weak 'slut punishment' for men in the form being obligated to provide child support for their children while denying them authoritative input on whether or not an abortion occurs, then fine. Yes, I am. I think in an ideal world a man could have some sort of 100% effective contraception, but since he can't he assumes some risk.

TOCT has also pointed out that I'm carrying a bit of a double standard because women have the right to get an abortion while men have no real say in it. I have no qualms about this 'double standard', because the circumstances of women, both individually and as a group are very different from men. An individual woman is the one who has to bear the consequences of a pregnancy and also has to feel the effects of an abortion on a fetus to which she has a deep biological connection and may well have strong emotional attachment to, even if she believes that an abortion is the morally right thing to do in her circumstances. For these reasons the decision of whether or not to abort is her's alone. As a group women have traditionally been oppressed and their role in bearing children has been used in this oppression, so I think abortion is an important tool in allowing women to assert control over their circumstances.

Finally, there is little information to be learned post-partum about the infant's chances of survival given the state of modern technology. Sure the infant could be injured during childbirth, or some serious defect could go undetected, but the child could also be injured later in life or some undiagnosed congenital defect could emerge later. Neither of these things would justify abandoning a child.

In short:
  1. birth is the best point for determining when life begins.
  2. The parents of a newborn have an obligation to it because they had effective means of preventing it from being born if they truly didn't want it (though life is slightly unfair for men, since they carry a small risk even if they use their most effective contraception, poor men).
  3. And let people have their say. Yeesh.
posted by Reverend John at 3:23 PM on January 26, 2008


If I may address the original discussion, days later...

If the semen provided by the man was judicially defined as a "gift", with which the woman later inseminated herself, one could argue that she was the father. It was her sperm.
posted by Sallyfur at 12:02 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


kigpig ,

Once born, the child is no longer physically dependent upon the mother and as such giving up the child is no more taxing to her than killing it.

But "giving up" requires guardianship, which necessitates legal responsibility/liability. As I have indicated, sex and birthing do not imply moral or legal guardianship responsibility. So the mother is free to walk away immediately after birth. Adoption is fine, but for some sort of adoption process to begin, someone has to first take legal responsibility/liability for the neonate, be it the mother, the father, or the state. It's fine if they do, but none of these entities is required to take such responsibility/liability. That means when no one has decided to take care of it, there is no one to feed it and no one is responsible for its death. So whether it is done actively and swiftly by the hospital, or passively and gradually through lack of care, the infant will die and no one will be legally accountable.

XMLicious ,


That makes it the state that decides who is a person and who is not independent of any innate nature or capacities of the neonate.

Well if it is the "innate capacities of the neonate" that is your only necessary criteria for murder then killing the neonate should actually be fine for a good while after birth - as in years! - for the same reason society believes it is not immoral to breed and slaughter conscious, intelligent, and emotionally developed livestock for food, or euthanize unwanted cats and dogs. The bar has been set high.

And, no it is not "the state" that decides. As I said above: "Where to put the line is a necessary legal question decided by the conflicting moral opinions of millions of different people filtered through national democratic politics."

If you would like to legally prevent abortion, that is just as much "the state" deciding who is a person. That's unavoidable no matter what your position is. We're debating law, for fucks sake.

Guardianship and legal protection are special rights granted by social and moral political "consensus" that confer personhood on the neonate independent of its cognitive and emotional development. Faculties which are not superior in the neonate, in any objective sense, to that of lab animals, and other nonhumans we legally kill by the millions daily.

So if you are going to confer protections based on the "innate capacities of the neonate", you better be prepared to take some radical positions on animal rights. Though I have never met a Pro-Lifer who has. This is because their true argument isn't secular, but implicitly or explicitly based on a religious belief about souls and the special essence of human beings.


Reverend John,

I'd like you to pin down more precisely what you mean by 'immediately'. Are we talking 5 minutes? 24 hours? A month? A year? And when you pick a time, tell me why a minute later, or twice that time period wouldn't also be morally acceptable.

Well this is pretty irrelevant. The infant will eventually die if no one claims it, because there is no one to take care of it. The answer is really just a matter of convenience for the hospital.


The advantage of birth as the demarcation point is that it is a clear transition.

The fatal disadvantage of birth is that birth doesn't imply a guardian who is legally liable for the protection and care of the neonate. You assume and assert the mother is automatically liable for the infant because she had sex and didn't get an abortion, but as I stated above, these actions do NOT imply a moral or logical claim of guardianship, which is the only appropriate criteria for such liability. Again your model IS the punish sluts model. Not just for the dad, but in the foundational assumptions of your arguments. You believe sex carries moral obligations of reproduction. That is exactly why you believe the sperm provider and the egg provider/incubator have automatic guardianship responsibility/liability for the neonate, outside of their own decisions to assume this role.

When the viable neonate is claimed as a dependent, that is the best and only appropriate demarcation point for its entry into and protection by society.
posted by dgaicun at 9:06 AM on January 28, 2008


Guardianship and legal protection are special rights granted by social and moral political "consensus" that confer personhood on the neonate independent of its cognitive and emotional development.

You're literally saying that the only reason not to kill someone is because the state or society thinks it would be bad.

I think that personhood (insofar as it relates to whether or not someone has the right to not be arbitrarily killed) is an inherent, innate, internal property of a human being, not some external or contextual thing as you are proposing.

So if you are going to confer protections based on the "innate capacities of the neonate", you better be prepared to take some radical positions on animal rights. Though I have never met a Pro-Lifer who has. This is because their true argument isn't secular, but implicitly or explicitly based on a religious belief about souls and the special essence of human beings.

You should give up your attempts to reason based upon divining other peoples' beliefs and motivations. You aren't very good at it. I'm an atheist.

I do think it's wrong to kill innocent people but I don't believe in souls or the existence of a God or gods, anthropomorphic or otherwise. If you find it necessary to pigeonhole people and cater to your own prejudices to comprehend moral issues, feel free to declare "It's wrong to kill people" a religious belief and label me a raving religious fundamentalist.

I am inclined to say that animals shouldn't be killed. At several points in my life I've been a vegetarian for that reason. But the jury's out for me to some degree. If I was going to argue that animals shouldn't be killed it would be with something about not causing pain and suffering, a separate and distinct basis from why murder is wrong.

In any case it's a red herring and a completely false dichotomy for you to claim that someone either has to take a radical position on animal rights or must declare that murder is not inherently wrong.

We're debating law, for fucks sake.

Oh the melodrama. For those of us who think infanticide is wrong, we might think we're discussing right and wrong rather than simply legal particulars.

And, no it is not "the state" that decides. As I said above: "Where to put the line is a necessary legal question decided by the conflicting moral opinions of millions of different people filtered through national democratic politics."

In a democratic state I would say that what you described there is the state. But even if it wasn't, averaged mass opinion no more makes something right than the mandate of the state does.

But of course I'm not talking about the legal rules about demarcation point anyways, should one need to exist, I'm talking about the decision that this particular neonate has the same rights as an unwanted, helpless adult, while this particular one does not and the execution of that judgment.

The infant will eventually die if no one claims it, because there is no one to take care of it.

A man lying underneath a car wreck with four broken limbs will also die if no one helps him. That doesn't make it okay to murder him. You're saying "if a child is helpless and unwanted, it's okay to kill it."

I hope you realize that you're a stone's throw away from the rationalizations that have led various states and political groups throughout history to euthanize and exterminate Jews, Gypsies, Tutsis, and various other undesirables. I'm not saying your position on the abortion debate leads to that, rather your reasoning about under what conditions it's okay to kill people (including the notion that mass democratic public opinion makes it okay).
posted by XMLicious at 5:03 PM on January 31, 2008


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