Saturday, March 11, 2006

Dear men who forgo birth control but don't want children: Tough fucking titty

The internets are abuzz with discussion about the "men's roe v. wade" nuisance suit, wherein some moron is announcing in a public court of law that he is a peice of shit who believes that his dick can magically rearrange the nature of human biology and personal autonomy. (No, this isn't one of those Puppetry of the Penis fellows, he's a computer programmer from New York.)

It goes like this: this moron had sex with a woman who told him that, due to a medical condition, she could not get pregnant. The reason why she said this is unclear; it is not know if the woman was told incorrectly by a doctor that there was a 0% chance she could ever bear children, if the woman misconstrued what her doctor said, if the woman simply lied about being infertile, or some other situation. Whatever the reason, the woman got pregnant after the Aforementioned Moron had sex with her, presumably without any use of contraceptives by either party. After the pregnancy occured, the woman opted not to exercise her option for birth control via abortion, and a baby was born.

So, to summarize: Two people, both of whom had equal opportunity to use any means of birth control that might have been suitable for their personal biologies, had sex and did not use any birth control. As a result, a baby, an autonomous living human being possessing the same needs as any other infant, was born.

Now, the Aforementioned Moron has filed suit to absolve himself of parental responsibility, specifically financial child support. His reasoning? The woman told him inaccurately that she was unable to have children, didn't choose to have an abortion when she got pregnant and therefore brought a child into the world against his wishes.

In other words, the A.M. would like the courts to believe that he is not responsible for his biological offspring because the woman chose not to use the methods of birth control available to her, despite the fact that the A.M. also chose to forgo the methods of birth control available to him.

The fact that this guy is a complete douchebag doesn't seem to evade many people, but I've come upon a suprising number of of individuals who believes that this lawsuit has some merit. Their thinking is that the right to an abortion provides women with procreative control that men don't have, and that the law should "balance" that situation by absolving unwilling fathers of parental responsibility.

The problem with this notion is that the key premise - "the right to an abortion provides women with a right that men don't have" - is simply false.

Men have a right to abort their own pregnancies (and, as this hilarious post and the People's Front of Judea point out, a right to be pregnant). They also have the right to take the Pill, get a tubal ligation, or wear a female condom if they feel so inclined. Women have the right to get a vasectomy, wear a male condom, pull out, put spermicide on their penises, take the Male Pill if and when it becomes available, and so forth.

Obviously, those things aren't biologically possible (although I am occasionally sad that I can't gleefully slather spermicide upon my non-existent penis), so it's easy to believe that the previous paragraph is pointlessly trite. However, it serves to illustrate an important fact: everyone has a right to bodily autonomy, and therefore the right to any birth control alternatives that are biologically suitable to one's personal anatomy. The fact that a woman is biologically capable of using abortion to prevent the birth of a child and a man isn't is no more "unfair" than the fact that men can get a vasectomy to prevent the birth of a child and women can't.

As I expounded in a comment over at Twisty's place, all people have the right to use birth control within the boundaries of their own bodies. That is to say that all people are entitled to do whatever they please to their own bodies in order to prevent or encourage the birth of offspring. Those feasible birth control methods might differ according to one's reproductive organs, but that's not unfair, that's life.

Many people shy away from describing abortion as birth control, I think out of fear of the anti-choice idiots who babble on about welfare queens et. al. who "use abortion as birth control" by ending dozens and dozens of pregnancies. We shouldn't be so afraid of that ridiculous stereotype that we fail to acknowlege abortion for what it literally is, because painting the procedure as anything but birth control thrusts abortion into a theoretical limbo zone where it can be framed as a right that women have and men don't.

The root of the "unfairness" complaint seems to be that abortion is the only option other than abstinence that can 100% guarantee a single outcome (no birth of child) and that no option but abortion is subject to such a high level of moral disagreement among individuals. In both of these scenarios, I'm afraid that I must say "tough fucking titty." When prioritizing rights, the right to total personal autonomy trumps all others. You cannot infringe on someone else's bodily autonomy in order to preserve a privilege. And the right to bodily autonomy includes the right to choose any method of birth control, or none at all.

On a related note, I also find the language that people frequently use in this sort of discussion to be unbelievably distant from reality. Statements like "why should the man have to pay for it," as if a child is an inanimate object to be purchased, "why should two people have to pay for something that only one wants," as if it were the woman's desire for a child and not the act of heterosexual coitus that brought about the offspring, and "she got pregnant without his permission," as if pregancy magically happens when the woman flips a switch and fatherhood is assigned to whoever happens to be closest.

Welcome, minions!


I have spent many moons mulling over the possibility of writing a public blog. I've actually begun several in the last few months, and abandoned all of them before posting anything. Today, however, I've been motivated by Huey's Grandpa, and now I'm here to say "Hello, Internets! Now fuck off!"