Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Right to Financial Abortion

What is the right to financial abortion?
The question is whether men deserve the right to be able to control when they become parents. The different aspects of this right include-
1) The right to decide whether to go ahead with abortion. (Especially as far as unmarried women are concerned, it is only the woman who gets to decide whether to abort the child or not. The opinion of the man may be taken in some cases, but the final decision is that of the woman. This may be true even in the case of married couples, though having regard to financial and other conditions of the couple, the decision to abort or carry on with the pregnancy may be of both the parents.)
2) The right to avoid all financial responsibility for which he may be liable, for costs of pregnancy, childbirth and finally for the maintenance of the child, if the father asks for abortion and the mother decides to carry on with the pregnancy.
3) The right to avoid all financial responsibility as stated above, by informing the woman before sexual intercourse that he shall not be responsible therefor, provided necessary precautions are taken by the man, or by the woman with the information of the man, to avoid conception.

Is giving the man or the father, as the case may be, the right to financial abortion a step towards gender equality?
The argument on behalf of women may be that it is the mother who bears the physical responsibility of bearing the child through her pregnancy, it is her body which goes through painful changes, and in most cases, it is the mother who has to nurse the child till he is old enough to be able to be brought up by someone other than the mother. It also undoubtedly involves a major lifestyle change for the woman. All the man has to do is bear, or SHARE, the financial responsibility, in the case where he does not want the child. The argument that the non-willing father has to bear the financial responsibility without custodial or visiting rights seems weak, and is in most cases, circumstantial.
On the other hand, the argument on behalf of men is that bearing the financial responsibility for another human being involves a significant lifestyle change as well along with making job flexibility nearly impossible.

Failure of contraceptives- Of course, the most common cause of an unwanted pregnancy is the failure of contraceptives, whether a condom worn by the man, a diaphragm used by the woman or a contraceptive pill taken by the woman. In case of necessary precautions taken by either, and failure thereof, with whom shall the decision to abort or carry on with the pregnancy lie? It seems unfair that the decision should not rest with the person whose contraceptive failed, as the fundamental reason for using the contraceptive in the first place was to avoid pregnancy. (Of course, the primary reason for using a condom or diaphragm may be to prevent transfer of a sexually transferable disease, but it can be safely assumed that avoidance of pregnancy will be a secondary reason here.) So, for example, where the diaphragm worn by the woman tears and she conceives, it does not seem right to make her entirely financially responsible for the child.
The same argument can also be applied in cases where the vasectomy or tubectomy fails, or in cases where the man or woman has been informed by a doctor that he or she is infertile.

Alternatives? Where the woman is opposed to abortion on moral/ethical grounds, the man may be made responsible for costs of pregnancy and childbirth, after which the woman has the option of giving up the child for adoption. This option is, of course, only available in cases where the woman refuses abortion on moral grounds, but does not want to be responsible for the child after birth.

The third aspect of financial abortion, that is, informing the woman before sexual intercourse that he shall not be responsible for the pregnancy in case of failure of contraceptives falls within the argument given above, that it is unfair that the decision should not rest with the person whose contraceptive failed.
In other cases, I believe that the man should not have an absolute right to completely give up financial responsibility.



  1. I am of the opinion, that only if the guy actually talk it out and not just mentions it to the girl, that he does not wish to have a baby and will not take up any responsibility of the child, I think financial abortion is an option. If contraceptives fail, and the girl wishes to carry the baby despite knowing that the guy does not want it, then it is her problem, not his. See, the guy has every right to shed responsibility if he's made it clear enough. And if she's morally opposed to abortion, that's not his problem as well. He had a condom on or then he made sure she took a contraceptive - and before harm done, he has backed off from the situation. Then again, he can't just have sex, get the pleasure and leave the girl to her own fate.

  2. Exactly.
    See, so if the guy has talked it out with the girl and she AGREES, then maybe it might be fair for him not to be financially responsible. In fact, it IS fair for him not to be responsible, because there was an agreement to that effect in the first place.
    But just informing the girl isn't enough.

  3. Yeah, just a passing mention would mean nothing for the girl. And if the girl doesn't agree when he makes himself clear, they shouldn't have sex anyway.

  4. Is this a new law?
    I think its cool- and in every way leads to equality simply because
    1. If you are a woman, and are impregnated, well, what proof does a man have that he had 'informed her' in the first place, before the decision to have intercourse?
    And If you are a man, and assuming all contraceptives failed, atleast now there is a way to get out of the situation, if the woman wishes to keep the baby.
    2. Keeping the sole RIGHT to abort or keep the child in the woman's hand seems the appropriate way to avoid the woman's exploitation.

    What do you think Ritu?

  5. I think one more angle needs to be brought in. We're treating the child like a recently produced commodity. Let's treat it like a human being instead and give it equal representation as the man and the woman who created it. Taking things forward from the point where the woman decided she will not kill the child, now there are 3 parties involved in the case. Now the child's needs need to be looked into, irrespective of who ripped who's condom or diaphragm. A financial audit of both the parents should be carried out, and that should be taken into consideration alongwith pre-intercourse statements and personal wills of the parents. In some countries simply putting a child up for adoption isn't a very good option for the child's future - it may end up in an orphanage and from there on the streets.

    Supposing this case: the father is well-settled (maybe already married), mother isn't in a stable homestead (working woman living in PG?). Drunkenness led to pregnancy and in the woman's inebriated state even if the guy clearly stated the disclaimer, it cannot be taken as valid. One can even argue that if they wanted to be so careful they should have just used non-penetrative methods for gratification. Sex for entertainment should not be treated as some fundamental right of any man right when everyone knows how easily it can lead to the creation of a new life which will entirely be a burden (possibly life-threatening as well) on the female. Every man is capable of masturbation and doesn't need a woman for it; so if he did go in for sex as an enjoyable act then he's got to assume responsibility. Now if the woman doesn't abort the child on moral grounds, that is her right.

    Moving on to the child's perspective, regardless of what the father or the mother says, the child's right to be brought up in the best financial and social situation possible outweighs them, as on one side we have negotiable personal preferences (however "serious" they consider their status and way of life, from a relative standpoint it does not count) while on the other hand we have a fundamental right to a healthy and dignified life. So that will be weighed in. The richer parent will have to pay the larger share. In case of adoption, seeing how difficult that is, financial responsibility should come in here as well, as a compensation for the adopting party in case requested. The solution to the embarrassment caused to the man is to fight the social stigma and stereotypes : societal pressure must not be allowed to hamper the rights of the child or its mother if she has decided she cannot take her child's life. The woman can also put in a time-bound statement that she needs assistance for this many years after which she'll be able to take care of the child. Both parties should make their proposals and finally the court should take a call keeping in mind the 3rd party's (and giving it greater weightage) A case like this would go a long way in preventing such occurrences and hopefully make men a little more responsible.