By: BC Woods
We live in an era where the decision to have a child is considered by many to be of less importance than the decision to get married. Given how frivolously marriages are formed and broken, this is not a statement made lightly. The rate of teen pregnancy in the US is significantly higher than in almost all other industrialized nations. For a surprisingly large number of people, the idea of creating a new human life does not immediately imply the responsibility to create a safe environment in which that life can flourish. Would-be parents simply think that they will have a child and the world will somehow fall into place. Worse, the world does not even seem to recognize that this value system is flawed.
When I attended my younger brother’s remedial high school graduation a little over a year ago, a retarded girl was given special recognition at the ceremony. Her accomplishment? She was not yet eighteen years old and already had two children. She was eight months pregnant with another. The crowd saw fit to erupt in applause. Given the fact that every family there, including mine, was dysfunctional, this is not surprising.
Contrary to popular cultural memes, it’s not always a good thing when a child is born. Firstly, a child born to a family without a home or an ability to feed it is a child sentenced either to die or to become a ward of the state. Secondly, a child who grows up in a home where they cannot observe a healthy loving relationship (gay or straight) is sentenced to a myriad of mental dysfunctions. Yet when we see a retarded girl pregnant on a stage we applaud. It is no longer our impulse to demand to know who raped her, because a retarded person cannot possibly give consent. It is no longer our impulse to take her children away and give it to a loving family that cannot have children of their own. No, when we see a poor child totally incapable of understanding the magnitude of what she is carrying inside her, we stand up and cheer. They even gave her a plaque. I bet if she could read it, she would be honored. Maybe one day if she doesn’t kill her children by mistake, they’ll be able to tell her what it says.
Why this has come to be is complex. Most of it can be explained away by the fact that people fully expect that the world is responsible for them. They never stop to think that the world is full of people, and that’s it’s the individual people who have to shoulder the burden of their short-comings. No one ever thinks that if everyone has to lean on everyone else, we all die. In this environment it makes sense that people will have children irregardless of the consequences. If someone doesn’t even have to be responsible for their self, why should they have to be responsible for their child? The problem is complex, but the solution is simple.
In our society, a woman has complete biological authority over the life of her unborn child. Growing in her womb, taking its sustenance from her blood, an unborn infant and the mother share a unique bond observed nowhere else among humans. For this reason, when a woman becomes pregnant it is her absolute right either to keep the child or to have it aborted without considering the wishes of the father. This cannot be disputed. However, society, even in legal terms, does not recognize any such rights for men. I would propose that a simple tweaking in the law could fundamentally shift the entire reproductive paradigm for the better.
What I propose will shock you. Your immediate instinct will be to rise up and call me a misogynist. All I ask is that you seriously consider what I am about to propose, and carry it to its logical conclusions:
Allow men the right to legally disown their unborn children. In cases where the father is never told of the child, he should have no legal obligation to assist in the child’s upbringing except by free choice.
We currently have something in the legal system called child support. In the case of a married couple that has divorced this is a fair concept. But we have another situation in which a man that has had sex with a woman he does not love can be held legally responsible for the child she bears. He will then have to pay for this child, and his mistake for the rest of his life. Many mothers would be unable to support themselves without this source of income.
Our sensibilities of course immediately go to the mother and child. What will she do? How will she care for the baby? What if they can’t make rent? What if they starve to death? We know that such children are already disadvantaged. We know that they are predisposed to commit crimes if no one steps up to the plate. How can the world be safe for these children with this too stacked against them? How in such a world can such families hope to exist? Exactly.
You see, in a world where men are legally allowed to disown their unborn babies the incentive on a woman to make certain that the man she is having her baby with has some kind of nurturing capacity and integrity is directly tied to her survival. No more casual dalliances, no more use of babies as bargaining chips, no more families brought together by legal pressure instead of love. With the safety net removed people will be forced to become good parents. If you can’t find a partner you can be sure will stick around and raise your baby with you, you will not be able to have a child.
An immediate criticism of this is that it would destroy American families. What American families are we protecting exactly? Do you think dependable, respectable people raise their children solely out of legal obligation? Do you think fathers who love their children and their wives would be gone in a heart-beat if they didn’t have to be there? The obvious answer is no. This would cause the dissolution of exactly one kind of union: the dysfunctional family.
Of course necessary reforms would have to be made in the welfare system. Namely, individuals on government assistance would not be allowed to have children. If you cannot make enough money to care for one child then having another child is an act of intentional abuse. For those who suggest that this is a violation of liberty, consider the crime committed against hundreds of thousands of children who are born into an environment in which there is almost no hope. Compared to this, a required contraceptive is menial. Those who honestly need assistance can have as many children as they want once they’re back on their feet.
I know a woman who poked holes in her boyfriend’s condoms so he would knock her up and marry her. I know a man who uses his child solely to hand him beers when he’s having sex. I know a woman who sold her baby to his father for $500. I know a man who used to beat his son hard enough to leave bruises the size of baseballs. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Prisons do not fill themselves. I do not find it a bit wrong to create a system wherein this caliber of individual, by their own free choice, is allowed to stop breeding. That’s not discrimination, it is natural selection. No one is being forced, in fact quite the opposite. This is freedom of choice creating a healthier environment for children. We can simply stop letting a segment of society use the government to facilitate its breeding activities.
The other option of course is that in five hundred years the average IQ will be less than seventy, Carl’s Junior will own the government, and people will live in giant Costco villages watering their plants with Gatorade. Let’s not lie to ourselves, if we don’t do something that’s the alternative.
BC Woods authors the site DunceUponATime, where he relates stories about events in his childhood, such as being attacked by a fawn, injuring himself with a sword, and his fourth grade teacher dropping dead in the middle of class. While he admits there are thousand of sites on the internet much better than his, readers are always welcome.
- The New Definition of a Bastard Child
- My Adoption and How My Biological Father Tracked Me Down
- Why Don’t Men Have a Birth Control Pill?
- Where Are the Baby Factories? On Livejournal, Of Course!
- The Deadbeat Dad Myth