By Michele Theil and Imogen Trinder
Male Abortion: A Call for Equality
Feminism is a movement that calls for equality of the sexes. From feminism, we expect to gain equal pay, equal opportunities, and equal rights for women. That being said, if feminism’s ultimate goal is to strive for equality of the sexes, shouldn’t this include men as well? Abortion rights for women have been implemented into systems of government for years. Yet, it wasn’t until 1998, when a South Carolinian attorney wrote an article on the subject, that there was even a discussion about the parental rights of the father.
Finally, in March of 2016, the subject of ‘Male Abortion’ began to gain traction again. This idea procured the attention of an entire nation—and subsequently the entire world—when the Swedish Liberal Party proposed male abortion as a legal amendment. Though the law was reportedly proposed by a group of females, some people view it as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘insulting’.
Male abortion specifically refers to the father of the child having the ability to choose whether or not to relinquish all paternal rights. If he decides to do so, he must make this decision before the 18th week of pregnancy. Not so coincidentally, the 18th week happens to be the final week a woman can legally terminate her pregnancy. What male abortion would mean for the father is that he would have no right to see the child after its birth, but also that he wouldn’t be legally obligated to pay child support.
While I may not be completely ‘for’ this idea of male abortion, I see some of the merits behind it. The Liberal Party, and those who support male abortion, herald this as a feminist policy. The concept calls for 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.
In theory, it should be simple. Men should be able to choose whether or not they want to be a parent, just as women do when they have the option of abortion or carrying to term. Many argue that ‘it takes two to make a baby’ when attempting to convince the paternal party to take responsibility for the child in question. If we expect men to be responsible, isn’t it right to give them a legal choice in the matter, too?
The father, if known, will always be held accountable for paying child support. 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.
Male abortion is great in theory but it needs to be examined closely to see how it can work in real life situations. Whether it be the Male Abortion law proposed by the Swedish Liberal Party or an entirely new proposal, it is clear that some form of legislation should be implemented that would give men and women some resemblance of equality when it comes to childbearing and abortion.
Michele Theil, Deputy Online Editor
Male Abortion: Grounded in Equality, But Cemented in Theory
A controversial law has been proposed by the youth wing of Sweden’s Liberal Party that would allow the paternal party to ‘opt out’ of parenthood until 18 weeks into the pregnancy. This proposition is called ‘Male Abortion’. By being able to void themselves of all parental rights, some might argue that the male counterpart would be given the same level of choice that the female is given in terms of abortion. However, this policy is very flawed.
Firstly, the female would still be able to manipulate Male Abortion, as it’s her responsibility to inform the paternal party of her pregnancy. She may bypass the 18-week limit the male has to make his decision on whether or not he chooses to exercise this proposed Male Abortion right. The female party could conceal her pregnancy from the father and therefore denounce him of any democratic abortion right, under the suggested terms of the Liberal Party.
Secondly, the law only works in theory. Although the male may initially choose to exercise his right of Male Abortion, if the father and the mother live within close proximity to one another and are on good terms, a relationship between the father and child could form regardless of the Male Abortion law acknowledged at 18 weeks of pregnancy. Circumstances are subject to change. In reality, both the mother and father are free to change their minds. Thus, male abortion becomes completely redundant.
In addition to the complications that could arise surrounding the parents’ relationship, the potential child’s wellbeing also has to be considered. What this law suggests is that a child is born into the world legally free of a father. Male abortion denies a human a basic biological requirement. With the passing of this law, the child—who has no say in the matter beforehand—is denied the right to access their paternal heritage. This could have detrimental effects in terms of emotional stability and genealogy. For example, medical records could be denied to the child when they are needed. The logistics of what the child can and cannot access in terms of their paternal parent would have to be made very clear before the law passes, in order to avoid any unfair limitations on the child’s future.
Lastly, the financial implications of male abortions are huge and differ from country to country. The economic and social situations in various countries are so diverse that it’s impossible that one universal Male Abortion law could be passed. For example, the social system is fundamentally different in Sweden compared to the social systems of America or China. Not only this, the financial burden of the child could then fall to the state, the taxpayer, or be the sole responsibility of the mother.
The Male Abortion law, although grounded in equality, fails to achieve any of its aims and its only probable result is to further complicate matters. Situations are subject to change and there is no doubt that in some cases the fathers will attempt to repeal their Male Abortion right. Should the law effectively work for the male, then the questions of financial responsibility, legal access to records, and the emotional strain this is likely to put on all parties are raised. Therefore, the Male Abortion law is simply theoretical, and could never work in real life.
These articles were published in our November 2016 issue.