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Roe v. Wade For Men (TM)

Well now doesn’t this just get interesting? A group that calls itself The National Center For Men has filed suit on behalf of a gentleman named Matt Dubay. At issue? He hadn’t intended for his then-girlfriend to get pregnant and now wants to be able to opt out of paying child support. Their press release is here.

On the surface this gives us one of two responses: 1) he’s just being greedy and trying to have his cake and eat it too; or 2) he was duped by his then-girlfriend and should have every reproductive right she has. Of course, sadly, neither of these responses even bothers to raise into question what really should be the ultimate problem at issue – the modern concept of sex without issues as a constitutionally protected right. Yes, that’s right, I’m going to drag out the time-honored statement: “if they hadn’t been having sex they wouldn’t have this problem”. There. You can stop reading now if you think that’s far too old-school for the modern world.

Now really, if you’re still reading, you understand that not having sex is the only way to ensure you don’t have unplanned pregnancy. Sure, the world has given us birth control methods that have very low “failure” rates. But as a friend once warned me, “it only takes one”.

The question of this lawsuit, however, isn’t settled just by saying “they shouldn’t have done that” because they already did and now there is a life in this world that needs help. No matter how correct you may be, wagging your finger is almost never a solution to an issue. The problem here is both sides are right: the child has a right to support from both of her parents, and the man involved in reproductive issues is denied the same rights as given to the woman.

I’m sadly left, lacking the wisdom of Solomon, to posit that this may well be an intractable problem in our national set of laws and social norms. God has ordained that women carry the baby for nine months while the man effectively has no fixed obligation after those inital moments of pleasure. Note that I said “effectively”; this is not to suggest that he should not, only that it is not impossible for him to simply walk away at that point which stands in stark contrast to the options open to women.

How, at that point, do we say “you, woman, have the right to stop this pregnancy at any point for any reason” and simultaneously say “you, man, now have no more say one way or the other”. After all, it certainly does seem to reflect the physical reality of the situation. But where in our system of laws is it stated that the performance of an otherwise lawful act necessarily causes the actor to lose rights? That certainly doesn’t seem very American, now does it? How does one solve this riddle? Right now I confess I don’t know. But what I do know is that the U.S. court system has yet to show me that it’s the right place to figure this out.

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