What of men’s EQUAL right to reproductive choice?

Before we jump into the morality and start to discuss the “right” of a woman to get an abortion let’s accept the fact that it is now the law of the land. Let’s add the other “reproductive rights” of women to the discussion also.  She has the right of abstinence, to use birth control of her choosing prior to sex,  the “morning after” pill the next day, the right to carry a pregnancy to  term, the right to abandon the baby in a “safe” location without question, the right to place it for adoption, and no obligation to inform the father of any of her decisions.

And of men’s reproductive rights?  Abstinence, condoms, and trust in your partner to be telling the truth about her reproductive status.  As the NYS Court of Appeals has ruled, “a man has no right to reproduction post ejaculation”.  This unequal application of rights and responsibilities of many is codified in judicial opinion.   This is evidenced in multiple court decisions which held men FINANCIALLY responsible for children even where the female sabotaged the condom by putting pin holes in it, “stole” his sperm from a discarded condom or other means, and even when it is taken by means of rape such as a recent case shows us, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/02/statutory-rape-victim-child-support/14953965/.   Men who claim they do not want the child of an unintended pregnancy are held responsible anyway, indeed, are even labelled ‘deadbeats” for not “standing up” and accepting paternity.

Recently a bill in the OK legislature has brought the issue of equal rights in reproductive choices to the forefront as the bill would require the approval of the father before a woman is allowed an abortion.  There was an immediate backlash from the left leaning women’s groups, the shout of “my body, my choice” resonating with posts spread all over social media to awake “women” to fight this “injustice”(http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2017/0214/Oklahoma-lawmakers-debate-bill-requiring-men-s-permission-for-abortion-video?cmpid=FB.).

I felt compelled to post on the CSM Article an opposing view in the form of a question: Do men have no reproductive rights?  We seem to be able to find a father when she wants child support.  So if a man says he doesn’t want to pay for a child of an unwanted pregnancy he is a “deadbeat” but if a women wants to abort that child she is exercising her rights?  A woman who has a child against a mans wishes is again exercising her rights, but a man who would ask that the pregnancy give him the child he wants he is then “forcing” her?  So we’ll just give all reproductive rights to women and disregard that their choices affect the father, the child, and society at large?  And can we say anything about responsibility for these “unwanted” pregnancies when women have so many means of birth control at their disposal?

In addition to the “my body, my choice” and the “women carry the baby” what also followed was a host of “men be responsible” comments, the “HE got HER pregnant” perspective which, ironically, failed to see the irresponsibility of women who find themselves in need of an abortion.   The argument was framed around “her rights” and “his responsibilities” and when pressed both sides of the argument dismissed a man’s reproductive rights as ending at ejaculation, where his responsibility begins for her choice.

Not a single person seems to want to address the issue of how can we say men and women have equal rights when we deny men rights which woman have.  Lost also in the discussion is RESPONSIBILITY for the decisions.  For we see a woman can give away her financial responsibility by giving the child up for adoption or even dropping it off anonymously.  A man suffering an unintended pregnancy is forced to pay for her decision.  Her choice is his being forced to 21 years of income execution, the sacrificing of his body at work without compensation.  A poor woman witt a child gets welfare, a poor man with a child gets a garnished.

Perhaps the worst part of the denial of men’s reproductive rights is the fact that most men don’t walk away from the responsibility of her choice.  Most are like Nick Olivas, our rape victim.  At 14 he was statutorily raped by a 20 year old.  Fast forward 6 years and Olivas learns he has a 6 year old child as he is served with child support papers demanding payments from the time of the child’s birth, even though he was not old enough to consent and was never informed of the existence of the child and allowed to decide to be a part of the child’s life.

Now, at 24 Olivas is trying to be a part of his child’s life stating, “I can’t leave her out there.  She deserves a Dad”.  Here he’s finding out that the state isn’t concerned with a fathers emotional support and raising his children for they consider the financial support as separate from access.  And as he is sure to find out, there are a multitude of means to collect, even incarceration into a debtor prison if he can’t pay.  But there are no avenues to help him with, much less guarantee, his time and emotional support for his child.

And what of a child’s rights?  Is there no right to both parents?  In going after Olivas for financial support the state says they are “doing it for the child”.  Really?  So why didn’t the state demand to know the father up front?  Isn’t a child the product of both parents and doesn’t a child have a right to know both sides of their family tree and both heritages?  Can someone from the state explain how it was in the child’s interest to be denied her father, his love and support, for 6 years, and then to collect retro dollars on her behalf?  I’m waiting for that response?  Why is a fathers dollars more important than his love and nurture?

In arguing for his legislation, Rep. Justin Humphrey stated he believes excluding the man out of these decisions is adding to the break down of society.  Once again a man’s rights and a child’s rights are lost in the discussion and the requirement for the mother to notify the doctor of the child’s father was more to make him responsible than to protect his rights.  His bill did do one thing, it exempted rape from the notification requirement, something we do not do for boys who are raped.

The bill was described as being opposed by “reproductive rights advocates” on unconstitutional grounds.  The regional director of planned parenthood stated that “Oklahoma should trust women to make the choices that are best for them”.  I suspect the choices are made easier when others bear the responsibility for your choices but have no choice themselves.   The article should clarify that the advocates are for a woman’s reproductive choices without regard for the father, child, or society.

But as I read the U.S. Constitution I see it guarantees God given rights to every individual equally.  And so I close with the question, What of men’s EQUAL right to reproductive choice?

 

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Men in the middle

The bulk of us in the middle of the bell curve of male perspectives and issues regarding family are being shouted down by the din from the echo chambers on the right and left.  A polarized media spin which ignores the voices and opinions of men.  Regardless of liberal or conservative it is a cacophony of moral busybodies advocating for the “rights” of women while holding men responsible to pay for the choices made by others.  And unfortunately our perceptions and policies on men, father, boys, and families, are derived from the loud extreme ends and not from the needs, wants, and desires of men and boys in middle America as expressed by them.

Years back (2004) we at the Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc. (FaFNY.org) complained to the Albany (NY) Times Union about sexual bias in reporting with them having more woman’s perspectives than men’s.  Of course they denied it.  So we did a content analysis over a 30 day period where we cut over 60 articles about women’s issues with none of them negative and 5 articles about men, 3 negative.  We met with the editorial board, they again denied being biased and we then plunked the paper articles on the table in front of them in 2 piles.  The long pregnant pause set over the room.  This, we said, shows great sexual bias in reporting against men, a regurgitation of the NY Times bias against men.

“We don’t see it that way” said the mostly male editorial board, flat-out denial of the evidence before them.  Perhaps our response to their continued head in the sand denial of bias was a little extreme when we gave them the “Pretty Pig Award” for 2004 as “You can put as much lipstick on a pig as you want but at the end of the day it’s still a … pig”.  We even offered to provide little votive boxes with pink ribbons to the male editors so they could carry their testicles around with them and put them safely away while at work.  It doesn’t hurt to burn a bridge that they won’t let you cross anyway.

One would have hoped over the next 10 plus years that social media and competing news outlets would have made things better, but it hasn’t.  At best it is the same, perhaps even worse with truth second to belief.  This past year I found the same NY Times regurgitation of anti male bias in the Schenectady (NY) Gazette online edition.  I complained to the editorial board that they had more NY Times content than local news, mostly anti-male.  I posted this opinion on their web-based comments section for each anti male article but when I didn’t even receive a form response to any of my inquiries I cancelled my subscription.

Over the past few days Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/02/07/better-sex-better-health-more-money-what-men-really-get-out-marriage.html#)          Science Daily (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170207135943.htm#.WJ9qHLLgizs.facebook),                                                                                  and National Review (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444746/marriage-benefits-men-financial-health-sex-divorce-caveat?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=wolfinger) have had pieces advising men to get married for their own good.  This on the heels of a podcast by Prager University which resulted in an outpouring of negative “what planet are you on” responses by men.  All the articles are based on one recent study by a pro marriage sociologist that marriage is good for men resulting in “more sex, better health, and more money”.   Don’t be a selfish oaf going your own way they advise as there is obviously something wrong with men.  We see the echo regurgitation in multiple outlets of the “marriage” party line, even in the face of push back from men who point out the 50% divorce rate, the vast majority filed by women, which results in the destruction of many men.

This on top of a January NY Post hit piece on men, “How to make deadbeat dads do more to help out” (http://nypost.com/2016/12/21/how-to-make-deadbeat-dads-do-more-to-help-out/).   Even though the myth of the deadbeat dad was busted back in 1995 finding that the majority of men were beat dead, dead broke, and disenfranchised, they hold to the “deadbeat” label.  Recent studies have shown that the bulk of unpaid child support is due to poverty on the part of men.   Ironically the focus of the article is NOT how to get poor men out of poverty for their health and well-being, it is to try to get them to pay into federal coffers to reimburse for welfare and entitlement payments given to women.  In this day and age of “gender” equality one does wonder why we don’t hold mothers accountable for financially providing for their children and have developed a social safety net for women and children only.

In 1975 we had a divorce rate in single digits as was the rate of homes with children absent a father.  The echo chambers of right and left have pushed policies which caused a divorce rate of 50% and 40% of children living in homes absent a father.  Contrary to the din which would lay the blame on men and fathers as “abusive deadbeats who forego marriage” the result is from the negative consequences for men.  Over two-thirds of divorces are unilaterally filed by women against men, men lose custody of their children over 85% of the time, and they are then forced to pay for the children they aren’t allowed to raise.  There are no family violence programs for male victims of family violence nor are there any financial social safety nets for men.

I have been a men, boy, father, and family activist now for over 20 years with organizations like FaFNY (http://www.fafny.org/), the National Coalition For Men (http://ncfm.org/), NY Men’s Action Network (http://www.nymensactionnetwork.org/), and Friends for the Protection of Men (https://www.facebook.com/groups/protectionformen/).  Maybe it’s time you stopped telling us how to be men, fathers and families.  Maybe it’s time you stopped turning a blind eye to our problems. And maybe it’s time you stopped turning a deaf ear to our issues.  You could learn more with your mouth closed and your ears open.  That is my “Dad” advice, direct to you from my father.