Dashiki Dialogues: The flip side of unwanted pregnancy

2013-05-07 10:00

Astrange man asked  me what the rights of fathers were in the mess that unwanted pregnancies can be.

Thrown off, I pointed him towards people better versed with these complicated things.

He seemed, after all, a tad touched by the Jesus juice, meaning I felt he was punching above his weight as far as the debate’s sobriety requirements went. Anyway, a few paces later, I found myself taking the issue more seriously.

Do potential fathers have any claims on what is to happen in these cases? The ruffled fellow I refer to here might have had some genuine trouble on his hands.

I must declare that, in a world so riddled with cases of women left in limbo by reneging fathers, it’s hard to listen to his kind of gripe.

The flip side means we tend to chill the space against fair debate to the level where justice suffers.

It matters that woman are protected and empowered to make decisions about their bodies. The miracle of conception and birth happens in their actual bodies after all.

This means it is they who are physically immobilised by pregnancy in the process.

But we must also consider that this story is much more complicated than that.

The troubled inquirer might have been subject to a situation where he wanted his better half to carry the pregnancy to term, while she felt the opposite. In such a case, we generally fall on the side of the mother who does not consent.

But what happens when the shoe is on the other foot?

What about when the mother wishes to keep a child against the consent of the would-be father?

That’s trickier. So I ran to the internet for answers. I found the US National Center For Men, which claims to be fighting for fairness and equal rights for men.

They say the following: “When it comes to unwanted, unborn children, men have responsibilities without rights.

A man’s life can be held hostage to an unplanned pregnancy, but his female partner will have complete control over her reproductive life and future.

He can’t force motherhood on her, but she can certainly force fatherhood on him, even if she has lied to him about using contraception.

“Only women have the extraordinary freedom to enjoy sexual intimacy, free from the fear of forced parenthood. This is an incredible power, taken for granted by most women and denied, by law, to all men.”

Now, as I kept walking and mulling over that inebriated stranger’s troubles, I realised this is a dialogue that will require resilient dashikis to solve.

It’s especially complicated by the hard position in which women find themselves in other debates.

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