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April 11, 2009

Responsibility

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

- George Bernard Shaw

One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver’s license.

- P.J. O'Rourke

One of the more bizarre things I've seen recently is number of conservatives jumping on the men's reproductive rights bandwagon:

Amy Alkon and I discuss women who accidentally get pregnant on purpose and whether men have any rights in this situation at all in this week's segment on PJTV.

I understand the heartburn many folks have with abortion. Setting aside the not inconsiderable question of why ensuring the continuity of whatever lifestyle you feel entitled to this week is considered sufficient grounds for taking a human life leaves substantial grounds for opposing abortion:

As we are constantly reminded, the abortion debate is all about something called reproductive choice. Of what does this reproductive choice consist? If a man and a woman, married or unmarried, conceive a child together, both are on the hook financially to support that child until he or she is grown. But there are rules. If the woman decides to rid herself of a fetus that she does not want (but the man does) she may kill it and this is perfectly legal. If the man decides to rid herself of a fetus that he does not want (but the woman does) - perhaps by slipping her an abortifact that does not otherwise harm her - this is murder, and he will go to jail.

Thus, two utterly contradictory things occur at the moment of conception:

Legally, from the point of view of a woman: the fetus is a lump of tissue which may be excised at will if she subsequently regrets having conceived a child. It imposes no obligation or legal duty unless she chooses to accept it.

Legally, from the point of view of the man: the fetus is a human being which must be allowed to live, even if he subsequently regrets having conceived a child. It imposes an absolute and irrevocable legal duty, regardless of his wishes in the matter.

In other words, if you have a y chromosome you have no reproductive choice. Except, of course, to pay at least a half-share of whatever "choices" your sexual partner may make, whether you are married or single - it makes no difference.

I believed these words when I wrote them. They are part of the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

I don't understand conservatives who seem to maintain that the entire responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies rests with the woman. Since I'm not buying the proposition that women have a right to consequence-free unprotected sex, it is hardly surprising that I don't believe in a male right to consequence-free unprotected sex either.

I don't understand ostensible conservatives who think society should be more concerned with protecting some nebulous male right to risk-free sex (boy, there's a winning public policy stance) than in ensuring the unintended victims of adult sexual irresponsibility are adequately cared for. Yet that is precisely what the "it's not fair!" contingent seem to want. Like couples locked in a bitter divorce battle, they are perfectly willing to visit the sins of the parents upon their innocent children if, by so doing, they can "punish" whoever they consider to be the guilty party. The problem here is that both parents are guilty of failing to prevent the pregnancy. No matter. Inexplicably and in defiance of hundreds of years of conservative ideology, suddenly conservatives have found a new cause celebre: protecting grown men from the consequences of their own irresponsibility and poor judgment!

Nor do I buy the "...but it's not faaaaaaaaair!" argument.

When has the world ever been fair? When are both conservatives and liberals going to wake up and realize that there are more important things in life than the pursuit of selfish pleasure?

Men and women have an equal duty to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This duty cannot be delegated and I have zero sympathy for people who don't want children, fail to take reasonable precautions, and then blame someone else when they get run over by the clue bus. Reality doesn't care about your life plans or subjective desires. If you don't want something to happen, make sure you're protected. Everything else is just whining.

It's hardly a surprise that both men and women lie about sex.

Men lie and say they love women when their real agenda is to obtain sex without that messy "caring" thing. Women are dishonest when they fail to admit their real agenda - which more often than not is to secure a committed relationship - to their casual sex partners. Any man or woman who has unprotected sex with someone they are not married to should have to face the consequences of their actions, and your partner's failure to act responsibly does not grant you carte blanche to be irresponsible too.

The fact is, if you're unmarried and chose to have unprotected sex, you're a fool to trust the responsibility of birth control to the other party. What possible incentive does your partner have to protect your interests at the expense of their own? This is, after all, why men tend to prefer uncomplicated and uncommitted sex: they neither trust nor love the women they have sex with.

And yet these men seem to feel (thinking is the wrong word for this kind of arrant nonsense) they have the "right" to expect someone they don't know well, don't trust, and don't love to protect them from a risk human beings have known about for centuries? It's no great mystery where babies come from, and whining when you are confronted with the entirely predictable consequences of your own fecklessness is not the hallmark of a reasonable or responsible adult.

Repeat after me three times, slowly: There is no "right" to risk-free or consequence-free unprotected sex.

And while I'm on the subject, abortion doesn't allow a woman to completely avoid the consequences of failing to prevent pregnancy. It may be more palatable than having to raise a child to adulthood for some, but there are risks and costs associated with having an abortion. Abortion isn't an escape from the consequences of unprotected sex.

It's a consequence of unprotected sex that can have life-long and life threatening repercussions, many of which are unforeseen at the time. That some women remain unscarred by those consequences isn't any more "unfair" than the fact that far too many men engage in unprotected sex and then walk away from the children they father without a backward glance. In any event, maintaining that you should be allowed to do something irresponsible and wrong because others have done irresponsible and wrong things is pretty childish.

We are each responsible for our own actions, and anyone who would make an innocent child pay for their own lack of responsibility - be they male or female - is wrong, wrong, wrong. It's a sign of the moral degeneracy of our society that conservatives have joined the chorus of whiners demanding to be freed from the onerous responsibility of behaving like adults.

Posted by Cassandra at April 11, 2009 09:49 AM

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Comments

And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver’s license.

What the hell is Obama's picture doing on my driver's license??

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at April 11, 2009 03:12 PM

OMG ...

That gets Comment of the Week :p

Posted by: Cassandra at April 11, 2009 03:15 PM

"There is no 'right' to risk-free or consequence-free unprotected sex."

For that matter, there's no right to risk-free or consequence free protected sex. There are just people who step up and people who don't. The people who don't will always be who they are; no philosophical, legal, or political law or argument can save them from that.

Posted by: Texan99 at April 11, 2009 07:45 PM

The people who don't will always be who they are; no philosophical, legal, or political law or argument can save them from that.


Thus proving you cannot legislate morality. Or common sense, but I digress...

Posted by: HomefrontSix at April 12, 2009 11:24 AM

Just thinking about it makes me "shrivel" like a moth in a flame!

In the immortal words of my wife, "Start without me!" Now that is change you can believe in!

Posted by: vet66 at April 12, 2009 11:36 AM

Someone once took responsibility for something He never did -- Happy Easter, kids!

Posted by: BillT at April 12, 2009 02:25 PM

"Someone once took responsibility for something He never did -- Happy Easter, kids!"
Hallelujah ! And to all who take responsibility every day ... and back at you too Mr. Bill!

Posted by: bthun at April 12, 2009 06:26 PM

Dang! Typing with one hand ain't all it's not cracked up to not be... *Refers to index of JD Bodine's math cypher for double-naught spy reference on thrice negated...

I meant to include this tune in a link in the previous comment.

It's a favorite of this old wretch.

Posted by: bthun at April 12, 2009 07:40 PM

Happy Easter, Bill.

Busy day - just got home.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 12, 2009 08:49 PM

My favorite Easter hymn:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMsaMMmMKuI&NR=1

Posted by: Cassandra at April 12, 2009 09:04 PM

Loved this little blurb from a Reuters story:

""Buner is fast turning into Swat."

Swat, to the west of Buner, was one of Pakistan's main tourist destinations until 2007 when militants infiltrated into the North West Frontier Province valley from strongholds on the Afghan border to support a radical cleric.

Authorities agreed to an Islamist demand for Islamic sharia law in Swat in February to end the fighting but critics said appeasement would only embolden the militants to take over other areas."

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE53C1F820090413

I wonder who will take the responsibility for this? Responsibility means taking the hit when your plans fail, as well as taking the glory when they come to fruition....

Posted by: kbob in Katy at April 13, 2009 09:34 AM

Well, let me propose a counter example for you Cass. You're assuming the complaint is, "If the woman wants the baby and the man doesn't..." What about the case where the man wants the baby and the woman doesn't? At this point in law, she can still abort the child and he has no say in the matter. What if what we "ostensible conservatives" are really after is not just another means to abortion on demand, but instead another chance to save a life?

The standard argument against allowing the man any say in the matter is "but he won't be carrying the baby for 9 months!" Very true, but as you said, neither partner has a right to risk-free and consequence-free unprotected (or protected for that matter, thank you Texan) sex. If the man is bound by the woman's decision for 18 years, and this is considered completely acceptable by the law, I don't see why the woman is immune to also being responsible for 18 years simply because she'll be pregnant for 9 months of that time.

Now, as a man who has never been (and will never be) pregnant, perhaps that is flippant of me. But I just personally think a man should have as much of a right to raise a child he helped conceive as a woman does. If she doesn't want the child, then he can raise it and SHE can pay child support. Sounds fair to me.

Posted by: MikeD at April 13, 2009 09:36 AM

I think I addressed this in the linked post:

...if abortion without the consent of a woman's partner only has a detrimental effect on some men, isn't that a good enough reason to disallow it?

What this post is about, more than abortion, is paternity suits. The conversation that prompted it seems to come to the conclusion that, because a woman can abort or choose to keep a baby, the man should be allowed to either choose to keep or decline to support a child he fathered.

Their argument, essentially, amounts to "two wrongs make a right" -- IOW, since a woman can choose to avoid some part of the consequences of unprotected sex (ending the pregnancy, which means there is no child to consider), "fairness" requires that a man should be allowed to evade the consequences of unprotected sex by refusing to help feed and clothe the resulting child (or, alternatively, to force the mother to have an abortion against her will).

My point was that both these arguments do precisly the same thing as abortion - they leave the child out of the equation entirely. Do you think that is right?

Or even consistent? If, as a foe of abortion, you think of an innocent child as a human being worthy of protection under the law, is it really intellectually consistent to say, "if the mother chooses to accept the consequences of unprotected sex by letting the baby live but the father wants an out, we'll allow that because she could have done something I disagree with - abort the child"?

Posted by: Cassandra at April 13, 2009 09:56 AM

I guess I explained myself pretty poorly. What I seek is not "two wrongs make a right", what I am after is the concept that as long as one parent wants the child, the child is born. Preferably both want the child, but better one than none (and better the child be given up for adoption if neither want it).

I wasn't saying that if the man doesn't want to be on the hook for child support, he shouldn't be. I'm saying that if the man wants to father the child and the mother doesn't want it, the father should get the child (rather than her just getting an abortion), and she should be required to pay child support (again, assuming she doesn't want to raise the child).

I am NOT saying that EITHER partner should be able to get out of child support. I am saying both are equally on the hook. Support should come from the one not raising the child, regardless of gender. And finally what I am saying is that one vote for life between the two parents should override the other's veto regardless of gender.

Posted by: MikeD at April 13, 2009 10:56 AM

I happen to agree with you :p

The issue of "reproductive rights" or "the right to choose" really centers around what the parents want. The child is invisible. What I find curious is that everyone is so worried about protecting one parent or the other from the consequences of their own irresponsibility that no one stops to think of the child.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 13, 2009 11:01 AM

Ok, so now that I got you agreeing with me, let me now make you disagree (ok, maybe not, but I find the following opinion tends to make both sides on the abortion debate angry).

I would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. But I also do not want to see Federal legislation on abortion (one way or the other) at all. That should be strictly a state level with the Feds only getting involved if someone is crossing state lines or some such. Tenth Amendment and all that.

Posted by: MikeD at April 13, 2009 11:45 AM

What I find curious is that everyone is so worried about protecting one parent or the other from the consequences of their own irresponsibility that no one stops to think of the child.

Because that would require admitting that a child exists prior to birth. Once you do that then the child's right to live would override everything and there goes the right to abortion.

Posted by: RonF at April 13, 2009 01:26 PM

Mike, that is pretty much my position: if Roe were overturned the matter would devolve to the states to decide on an individual basis.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 13, 2009 01:55 PM

I'm saying that if the man wants to father the child and the mother doesn't want it, the father should get the child..."

I agree with you on most of your points, Mike.

However, according to what I've heard from and read about women who've had an abortion, one of the main factors in their decision was also the actual gestational period. Many simply did not want to be pregnant because of the changes -- many of them being permanent in nature -- that occur within a women's body, not only during pregnancy but also delivery of a baby. As crass and self-centered as that may be on their part, it was still as much a factor in their decision as the consideration of spending the next 18+ years raising a child.

Having said that, it has always made me wonder why those living within the bonfire of the vanities aren't more proactively diligent about their own birth control measures. But then, such as those aren't really noted for the depth of their common sense capabilities in the first place.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at April 13, 2009 03:01 PM

I agree with MikeD, and I'm not interested in whether the mother finds gestation inconvenient or not.

Posted by: Texan99 at April 13, 2009 06:52 PM

There are actually 3 options: baby to raise, abort baby, or give up baby for adoption. Would not the intellectually consistent position be that the man, who has no say on whether to abort, can then instead require that the baby be put up for adoption. Then, the baby is considered - there are lots of financially secure couples looking to adopt infants - and the man can avoid responsibility much like the woman could have had she aborted. This new policy would hurt China's exporting of baby girls however.

Posted by: Kayser Soze at April 14, 2009 10:03 AM

The real question is, how would this affect the balance of payments?

Posted by: Game Show Host at April 14, 2009 10:06 AM

Mike, that is pretty much my position: if Roe were overturned the matter would devolve to the states to decide on an individual basis.

Well, poo. There goes my attempt to rile folks up.

I agree with MikeD, and I'm not interested in whether the mother finds gestation inconvenient or not.

Agree. Mostly because she (assuming consent here) found the conception quite convenient.

Posted by: MikeD at April 14, 2009 11:48 AM

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