Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Reproductive responsibility

First, a little disclaimer. I would not actually do the things I advocate in this article. If I were to father a child, I know that I would not run from my responsibilities to that child. I’m not merely talking about the financial burdens. I would feel like financially supporting the child was just one of the many roles I need to fill. Making sure the child is educated, in the academic and worldly sense of the word, learns right from wrong, understands his role and responsibilities to society in general and grows up in a compassionate, loving situation are just some of the other responsibilities I would think I have. Although my relationship with the mother might not be a customary one, I would do all I could for the child – meeting all my responsibilities, being highly involved with his life and helping him grow to be mature and caring. Understandably, financial support is not even in question.

Unfortunately, quite a large group of males don’t view the situation described above in the same light. Dead-beat dad and the lack of fathers in all families have become familiar phrases in society. Not only do these fathers not play an involved role in their child’s lives, they don’t even help to support that child.

But should they be required to?

If a man and a woman have an unintended child, there are basically three options available to deal with this situation. First off, the woman can have an abortion. Secondly, the parents can decide to give the child up for adoption. Finally, they can go ahead and have the baby, and either one or both of them can raise it.

Let’s assume for the purposes of this article that the man doesn’t want to have the child but the woman does. Adoption was ruled out for one reason or another. Understandably, even though he may very well want the woman to have an abortion, he can’t force her to. So the woman decides on her own to have the child, but the man is still expected by the law to financially support the child.

So although they were both equally responsible for conceiving the child, the woman has sole power in deciding what actually happens to the child, which is completely reasonable. I’m in no way advocating forced abortions or anything of the like. But what bothers me is that the woman decides that the child is born and the man simply has to live with the repercussions of such a monumental decision, even though he is equally responsible for the child. As a result of the woman’s decision, he must pay child support for an extended period of time for a child he didn’t even want to have in the first place. In this situation, the woman gets to make an important decision and then turns around and makes the man live with her decision when, simply because of the fact he helped conceived the child, it seems he should have some say in what is happening.

How can we fix this problem? Well, assuming the child isn’t born yet, the man could decide that he doesn’t want to have the child at all. The timing in his life is bad and he can’t afford the time, energy and money it takes to raise a child. So he could tell the woman that if she wants to have an abortion that’s fine. If she wants to give birth to the child, that’s fine, too. He just isn’t going to pay child support.

By doing this, the man isn’t forcing the woman to do anything to her body that she doesn’t want to do; the power is still in her hands when deciding whether she wants to give birth. She can have an abortion if she so desires, or she can have the child. I’m not arguing that the woman shouldn’t have complete control over what happens to her body. If a man wanted to have the baby and she didn’t, she should not have the baby simply because he wants to. But the same principle holds true for the situation I just described. Why should the man pay for the child simply because the woman wants to have it? I just don’t understand why the man has to live with a woman’s ultimate decision when they share responsibility in creating the child.

Surely, some negative effects would result from such a major policy change. With a smaller amount of available funds, a mother and child might find themselves in a tougher financial situation. But does that mean we can just turn away from doing the right thing and neglect the rights of the man involved in the situation? We need some balance to be worked out and the only way will happen is if the law is changed and more men begin to meet more of their responsibilities.

-The writer is a freshman.

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