Male Abortion Debate

Male abortion is a fairly recent concept that has been debated by many people. It takes the traditional pro-life and pro-choice arguments that accompany female abortion and adds another facet to think about; the rights of the father. Male abortion specifically refers to the father of the child being able to disclaim all paternal rights until the 18th week of pregnancy. This would mean that the father would have no right to see the child when it was born but also that he wouldn’t pay child support. This idea gained popularity recently when the Swedish Liberal Party proposed male abortion as a legal amendment. This has been a very controversial topic with most people seeing it as “ridiculous” and “insulting”.

While I may not be completely “for” this idea of male abortion, I see the some of the merits behind it. The Liberal Party and those who support male abortion herald this as a feminist policy, allowing equality of the sexes in regards to pregnancy, abortion and children. This would allow expectant mothers to know whether the baby’s father is prepared to support the child in question and make alternative arrangements should he wish to “legally abort” the child. It would be an irreversible decision. In theory, it should be simple; men should be able to choose whether or not they want to a parent, just as women do when they have the option of abortion or carrying to term.  People argue that it takes two to make a baby when trying to force the “deadbeat dad” to be responsible for the child in question and thus, if we expect men to be responsible, isn’t it right to give them a legal choice in the matter too?

Most places in the world have laws that use hospitals and churches as ‘safe havens’, where a woman can leave a child safely, thus relinquishing her parental responsibilities. This offers an alternative to women so that babies are not left in rubbish bins or on the side of the road. A woman can therefore relinquish her parental responsibilities completely and a man cannot. The father, if known, will always be at fault for paying child support. It is even a part of pre-abortion counselling to tell the pregnant woman that the father is forced to pay child support, in an effort to minimize the number of abortions occurring.

The argument is that because men are forced to pay child support, there is a greater incentive for the man to pressure women into ending unwanted pregnancies due to financial issues. In addition, there is concern over increasing violence towards pregnant women due to avoidance of financial liability.

Many joke that it is a simple way of birth control for men as they can just disclaim their paternity should an unwanted pregnancy occur. However, it is impossible to compare the signing of a legal document to the physical act of aborting a foetus. And it is not something we should be joking about, as it is a very serious matter.

A supreme court ruling in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey argued that “the father’s interest in the fetus’ welfare” is not “equal to the mother’s protected liberty” as there is a basic biological different between the sexes leading to the fetus having a “greater impact on the pregnant woman” than on the father of the child. Thus, when it comes to abortion, true ‘equality’ cannot exist.

Male abortion is great in theory but it needs to be examined closely to see how it can work in all situations in real life. Something definitely should be implemented that would give men and women some semblance of equality when it comes to child-bearing and abortion but it is difficult to find something that works for everyone, equally.

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By Michele Theil

Michele Theil is a freelance journalist based in London, specialising in investigative journalism and pieces relating to the LGBT+ community, women, race and culture – and their intersections. She is a bisexual woman of colour, and passionate about social justice, diversity, inclusion, writing, reading and swimming. Read her other work at micheletheil.com.

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