Because some people assume things by their titles, I have been hesitant to write this post for a very long time. But because the mentality and the laws have never changed regarding the matter, nor has societal opinion really shifted, I feel this is something that needs to be said. And with the abortion debate being more of a battleground topic than ever before due to the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade, I think it's time for men to start thinking about and fighting for their own rights of choice, far more than they have been. I write this entry not only for my younger self, but my son and all young men.
I will begin by saying I am not against a woman's right to have an abortion, and certainly not to use birth control. In fact, I don't think most people are against abortion in and of itself, and birth control should be far more readily available than it is. This post is about the realization that a man actually has less personal choice over his body than people think. Despite common presumptions, his sex life is dictated by the government. From the moment his sperm touches an egg, he is legally considered a father and has no right whatsoever to end that pregnancy. When the baby arrives, he will be forced to pay child support or face serious legal consequences. There have even been cases where underage male rape victims were forced to pay child support to their adult female rapist (I am not kidding). And my common sense tells me that there are men out there right now in unhappy and/or abusive relationships, because they know that if they leave, child support will be used to exploit them.
It's easy to say pull out, wear a condom, or don't have sex until you're ready to be a dad (even though protection isn't 100% foolproof). But the problem is that we don't say the exact parallel to women. If we told women to keep their legs closed until they were ready to be mothers, we would be accused of objectification, turning women into baby mills, condemned for not respecting her humanity, crimes against humanity, and forced parenthood. But for some reason, it's perfectly fine to do the exact same thing to men, even if they did not intend to create the pregnancy. If a woman can have sex freely without parental obligations, a man should have that same legal right. From the beginning of his knowledge about the pregnancy, he should be able to say, "I consented to sex, not fatherhood, and I'm walking away." Why? Because a woman can. Obviously a man and woman will exercise that right in different ways, but they should both still have that fundamental freedom. That is, if we truly believe that men and women should be equals.
Before you think that forced fatherhood can't negatively impact men (as if any human being would enjoy enslavement), let me assure you that young men have committed suicide to escape it. And most certainly, how many times do you think a man has had holes poked in his condoms by a girlfriend? Whether we like to admit it or not, and however rare it may be, men can and do face literal entrapment. Not to mention that, in general, a man's life will always be pivotally changed if he's forced to be a father. His finances, his mental health, his future plans, and maybe even his freedom if he fails to pay. Here in Illinois, you can have your wages garnished, your driver's license revoked, and/or be jailed. Just imagine if Illinois said that women who get pregnant and refuse to become mothers will be fined, jailed or face other consequences. What outrage there would be! Now I am aware that some states may enforce child support less than others, if at all. But the point is that there is no law on any State book which gives a man the inherent and Constitutional right to sexual freedom in this regard.
I know that when I first became sexually active at nineteen, that a baby would have destroyed my life. I can't even imagine the horrors that would have befallen me, but our society and legal system seem to only be concerned about that if I am the female. Why should the law have the right to tell me that I cannot appease my sexual desires and experience sexual connections, which the human body and mind need, unless I want to be a parent? It's my body, my life, and should be my choice, too.
In the Goodness of the Gods,