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.