The question of men’s roles in raising children and their right to financially free themselves from parenthood has been raised by Australian writer Catherine Deveny over the weekend, who wrote for the ABC, “as a feminist, I support men being able to opt out of fatherhood early in a pregnancy via what is known as a financial abortion.”
Expanding on the controversial topic, Deveny continued, “I believe a woman should not be forced to become a mother any more than a man should be forced to become a father. If a man has not said, “I want to have a child with you now-ish”, it is fair to assume he doesn’t, and therefore should be able to legally withdraw from becoming a parent,” adding, “It would also be less traumatic for children, and more empowering for women.”
The article also explored the logistics, potential benefits, and the social stigmas involved with carrying out such a decision.
The concept of financial abortion is a fairly simple one. Legally, it would entitle men who had previously stated their unwillingness to become a parent to cut all financial ties and forfeit all rights and responsibilities with the child and mother within the early stages of the pregnancy.
No birthday parties, no report cards in the school bag, no second weekends spent at dad's house.
Assuming that the adults live in a country in which access to abortion is safe, legal and affordable, Deveny reasons, "the litmus test is simple: Is it fair for people to be forced to become parents against their wishes? If it's not fair for a woman to be forced to bear a child or have an abortion, it follows it's not fair for a man to be forced to become a parent."
But how the opt-out could actually be managed still needs some serious thought.
"Of course, there are lots of details to pin down: how far into the pregnancy should men be able to opt out of parenthood? How would they go about proving it was clear they didn't want to have a child? Could the child access information about their biological father, and if so, when?" she asked.
Posting to her Facebook page about financial abortion last week, Deveny says she was shocked by how strong our social stereotypes seem to remain, with many still believing it is a man's job to provide for a family, and that if men have sex at all, they ultimately run this risk of impregnating a woman, meaning they essentially bring the situation on upon themselves.
Unhappy with the comments, Deveny asked, "haven't we moved past the thinking that people should be punished simply for engaging in pleasure? Do we really want our children to be conceived by force?"
"I believe every baby should be wanted, and every parent should be willing," she added.
"When we consent to having sex, we do not automatically consent to becoming a parent. If, when a cis male and cis female have vaginal sex, their contraception fails, it doesn't mean both people have to become parents. The options are abortion, adoption, parenting together or sole parenting."
Deveny continued, "My life is so different to the generations of women before me because I had the opportunity to decide when I became a mother, with who, and how many children to have," adding finally, "I would like everyone — male or female — to have the same opportunity."
Read Catherine Deveny's full article here.