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Advice to Men

In Memory of Allen Wells

This set of web pages for Allen Wells has been recreated from web pages archived at http://web.archive.org

Key Page for Allen Wells

Paternity Rights

From uunet!microsoft!allenwe Mon May 21 11:44:24 CDT 1990
Article 23383 of soc.men:
Path: cs.utexas.edu!uunet!microsoft!allenwe
>From: allenwe@microsoft.UUCP (Allen WELLS)
Newsgroups: soc.men,soc.women
Subject: Re: Precedents
Message-ID: <54754@microsoft.UUCP>
Date: 21 May 90 16:23:53 GMT
References: <19465@duke.cs.duke.edu> <90128.163843SAUNDRSG@QUCDN.BITNET> <1990May9.003048.29562@sdd.hp.com> <264b4fdf.3df@petunia.CalPoly.EDU> <1990May14.193112.18625@sdd.hp.com>
Reply-To: allenwe@microsoft.UUCP (Allen WELLS)
Organization: Microsoft Corp., Redmond WA
Lines: 87
Xref: cs.utexas.edu soc.men:23383 soc.women:37072
Status: OR

I find the discussion about delegating the responsibility and parenting of
unplanned children to be very interesting. Please allow me to try to explore
some of the arguments in a systematic way.

Some men start out by feeling a lack of control over a situation which (in the
long run) affects them just as much as women. Depending on their background,
they either claim:
- Men should have just as much a right to an abortion as women, or
- Men should be able to have a veto over an abortion of their fetus.
or perhaps both.

Some women, not interested in anyone else having any control over what they see
as a personal bodily function, object - saying:
- Women should have full control over whether they take a fetus to

Some men, understanding the importance of that argument, attempt a compromise:
- If a woman takes a fetus to term that the man does not want, only
the woman should be considered the parent and the man should not
be considered the parent or have any obligation or rights.
In other words, if only the mother wants the child, the mother has the child
by herself.

This compromise has a lot of things going for it. It fully respects the
rights of the woman to do whatever she wants with her body. It removes the
ability of women to use pregnancy as a weapon.

However, as intellectually interesting as it is, it has a couple of fundamental
flaws that doom it.

First, it makes the assumption that abortion is a widely accepted option.
While the majority of the population accepts abortion, and that majority is
probably over-represented on UseNet - there is a very large part of the
population that would disagree. To someone who does not consider abortion
an acceptable option, allowing the father to walk away from responsibility
and forcing the mother to have a child with no help or support is unacceptable.
If this attitude was uncommon, this could be passed off as the price the
woman has to pay for her peculiar beliefs - but with about half the population
holding this belief, that argument doesn't work.

Second, one of the current political priorities is to reverse the increasing
poverty of American children. The most significant cause of this considered
to be the increase in children with only one parent supporting them. Against
this backdrop, proposals that would allow potential fathers to 'get out of'
support obligations wouldn't stand a chance.

<soapbox on>

The current situation, with all of its problems, is likely to be with us for
quite a while. The right thing to do is to educate people about the reality.
It used to be the case that women bore the brunt of unplanned pregnancies.
The (short-term) solution was for women to bear the responsibility for
preventing them. Now that women can either have a child or not as they
wish, but men have major obligations they have no control over, it is now
important that men bear the responsibility for preventing pregnancies.

Understandings between caring adults are nice, but they aren't anywhere good
enough. Are you willing to risk the next 22.75 years of your life on your
trust in your partner? Even if you only think there is a 5% chance of you
getting stuck, is it worth it?

I have a friend who was in a relationship with a very mature, understanding,
liberated woman. He had been with her for years. They finally broke up.
She called him a few months later and arranged a talk. She told him that
she had gotten pregnant just before they broke up. She had been thinking
about getting an abortion (the course they had agreed that they would
pursue if there were any accidents) until she found out what the child
support guidelines were. She had the kid.

Despite a sincere attempt to really be the child's father, and despite
repeated trips to court over a period of years, the best he has been able
to get for visitation is one hour per week, not allowed to go farther than
two miles from the mother's home. There have been no allegations of
misconduct or poor parenting abilities on his part, the court just feels
that this 'enough'. For this pitiful excuse for fatherhood he gets to
pay 25% of his income in support for 18 years, followed by any college

This sort of thing is real, and I suspect it is common. Every time that you
have sex without a reliable form of birth control that YOU control, ask
yourself whether the risk is worth it.

<soapbox off>
---------- "Here in Pennsylvania, people have a special kinship to zombies."
Alien | - the Wall Street Journal
---------- Microsoft has its own opinions. These are all mine, but I share.

Allen Wells recaps his story

Posted 2006 09 04