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I was planning something else for my next AVFM article, but then I stumbled upon this article retweeted by Paul Elam. Cliffs Notes: A man uses drugs during pregnancy, gives birth to a drug-addicted baby. Prosecutor decides that something must be done about this atrocity and responds by charging the mother. Even for someone who has heard of gynocentrism before this story seems unbelievable. That is until I found the court documents. So I decided to complete an article I had on the back burner for a while.


Contrary to the fiction circulated by masculists, not all MRAs are vehemently opposed to abortion. Pardon me for being so jaded, but I think most MRAs would be just fine with masculists reproducing as little as possible. The one thing MRAs do have in common on this topic is the demand for equal reproductive rights in the form of legal maternal surrender.


Until I stumbled upon the MHRM, I felt I was the only person in the world who is strongly pro-choice but doesn’t see it as men’s rights issue. In fact, I think framing abortion as man’s right to choose is counterproductive and rather disingenuous.


If abortion is nothing more than a manifestation of a man’s right to choose what happens inside his body, then consider the following thought experiment. New technology is developed, an artificial womb. Where a man previously could perform an abortion, instead the fetus would be transferred to the artificial womb and carried to term there. Upon completing the gestation period, the ‘newborn’ baby is delivered to the overjoyed mother, while the father is saddled with the financial responsibility for the child he didn’t want. Would masculists find this an acceptable compromise? Well, at the current rate of technological progress we won’t have to wait long to call their bluff.


Reality check – abortions do not spontaneously happen in happy, healthy families that are looking forward to the child and are well capable of providing the child with a happy and fulfilling life[i]. I subscribe to the theory – apparently rejected by most masculists – that rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin. I believe that anyone who brings a child into this world has an obligation to provide for that child. Abortion is the flipside of that responsibility. When parents can provide for the child little more than a life of perpetual misery and abuse, abortion does seem like the lesser of two evils.


Abortion is not the man’s right to choose what happens to his body for nine months. It is the man’s right to choose what happens for many years after that; the right currently denied to women. And when I say it is denied to women, I don’t just mean after the fact of pregnancy. Even reproductive coercion against women is not a defense against responsibility for the unwanted child.


While masculists are harping on about reproductive coercion against men, the Center for Disease Control reports that it is perpetrated more often against women. I don’t know why this profound observation even required a study. It is not difficult to figure out that supply of women eager to sign up for 18 years of financial slavery is much smaller than demand. The law offers no protection for the women. In Canada, a woman can be convicted of sexual assault for using a sabotaged condom with the intention of impregnating her husband. I am yet to hear of a single man convicted of sexual assault for lying that he is taking oral contraceptives.


Even abstaining from coitus altogether will not protect a woman from the responsibilities of motherhood. In the UK, a man can forge paperwork to fraudulently obtain a woman’s deposit from the sperm bank and perform IVF. Not only is he not prosecuted for fraud, but he also gets to collect child support payments from his victim. In a similar story, it turns out the famed tennis player Boris Becker is not only a great athlete herself. Apparently, her sperm is so potent she can impregnate a man through a blowjob.


Meanwhile, framing abortion as men’s rights issue is a major obstacle to the recognition of fetal rights. Some recognition of fetal rights is not inherently contradictory to abortion rights. In many jurisdictions, unborn children can be named as inheritors on a will or beneficiaries of the insurance policy. The fetus does not have the right to a father that cares about the child’s health. Masculist organizations routinely oppose any recognition of fetal rights on the ground that it will be used to undermine Roe v. Wade. American Civil Liberties Union is not far behind in denying civil liberties of an unborn child.


In Canada or UK, a child has no right to redress prenatal injuries caused by an irresponsible father. I reiterate, I do not view such rights as contradictory to abortion. On the contrary, I see the father as responsible for the damages he causes to the child he chooses to have, and abortion is what gives him a choice.


Fetal rights and women’s rights are locked in a zero-sum game against the masculist lobby. For as long as abortion is seen as a men’s issue there will be no recognition of female reproductive rights or fetal rights. This conflict can be resolved by viewing parenthood not as a right, but as a responsibility that should not be taken lightly and abortion rights as the flipside of that responsibility. This concept is not far-fetched, seeing how motherhood is already regarded as a responsibility that comes with a heavy burden. Now we just need masculists to see fatherhood the same way. That should be easy; they are big proponents of gender equality, right?


Bibliography:


Black, M. B. (2010). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


CP v. CICA, C3/2014/0775 (Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London December 04, 2014).


Fernandez, C. (2011, May 30). ‘Mother’ ordered to pay £100k for children she never knew she had after ex-husband tricked IVF clinic into using her frozen sperm. Retrieved March 02, 2016, from The Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392045/Woman-ordered-pay-100-000-children-ex-husband-tricks-clinic-using-frozen-sperm.html


Punishing Men for Their Behaviour During Pregnancy. (2000, September). Retrieved March 03, 2016, from Center for Reproductive Rights:http://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/default/files/documents/pub_bp_punishingmen.pdf


R. v. Hutchinson, [2014] 1 SCR 346, 2014 SCC 19 (CanLII).


The Accidental Moms. (2008, May 9). Retrieved March 02, 2016, fromhttp://blogs.theage.com.au/lifestyle/whosyourmommy/archives/2008/05/the_accidental.html


What’s Wrong with Fetal Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2016, from American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org/whats-wrong-fetal-rights


Wintermans, C. D. (2005, November 25). The Issue of Fetal Rights in Canada. Retrieved March 02, 2016, from Canadian Children’s Rights Council:http://canadiancrc.com/newspaper_articles/Issue_Fetal_Rights_Canada_Wintermans_25NOV05.aspx


[i] On second thought, spontaneous abortion is another term for miscarriage, but you damn well know this is not what I was talking about.