The Pro-Choice Double Standard

I had an interesting conversation with my wife yesterday about a recent episode of Dr. Phil that she saw.  Apparently, Dr. Phil recently featured a male guest who had fathered a child out of wedlock with a woman who thought she could never get pregnant.  He wanted her to terminate the pregnancy, but she wanted to keep the baby.  The man was trying to make a legal argument that he should have a right to choose not to be a father every bit as much as she has the right to choose not to be a mother.  He wasn’t trying to force her to have an abortion.  He was just trying to get off the hook for child support. 

I have never thought of it this way before, but the pro-choice movement really only gives a choice to the women involved in a pregnancy.  If a man fathers a child, society tells him to step up, be a man, and take responsibility for what he has done.  We hear nothing about the scared young man (or boy) facing a difficult personal decision about whether or not he wants to be a father at this time.  Instead, when it comes to the man involved, society suddenly becomes gung-ho about personal responsibility.  “When you choose to have sex, you choose the consequences of your actions,” we tell him. 

And then we turn to the woman and say, “This is a difficult situation, and we want you to know that we will not force you to be ‘punished with a baby,’ as St. Obama has said.  We are sensitive to the deep personal struggle you must be having right now, and we want you to have the freedom to make the best possible choice for yourself and your body.  If having this baby in any way threatens your health (in the loosest possible sense of that term, encompassing emotional, relational, and even financial well-being), then you have every right to terminate your pregnancy and choose not to be a mother at this time.”  We demand personal responsibility from the man and bend over backwards to encourage the woman to feel free to make the choice to dodge responsibility.

Perhaps an interesting legal challenge to the Roe v. Wade decision would be to argue that it violates the equal protection clause by not giving the same kinds of freedoms to a man that it gives to a woman.  If that argument is ever made, it would not be a victory in principle for the pro-life movement (since it would not rest on pro-life theory), but it would be a practical victory (since it would overturn Roe v. Wade).  One powerful way to make an argument against another position is to employ the reductio ad absurdum, the argument by which you carry your opponent’s view to its logical conclusion, which reduces to absurdity, a view that he or she would never hold.  By doing so, you expose the weakness in his or her present position by showing that there is no inherent barrier in that position that prevents the absurd conclusion that you have drawn.  In this case, I believe the logic of the pro-choice movement inevitably leads to allowing men the same rights as women when it comes to parenthood.  Fathers should have a choice about whether or not they want to be fathers; they should be allowed to opt out of child support if they like.  It is simply inconsistent for prospective mothers to be given a choice when fathers are demanded to step up and take responsibility for what they have done.  Of course, very few in the pro-choice movement actually believe this, but I don’t see how you can avoid this conclusion, given their arguments.

In truth, as a society we should demand that all people, men and women, take responsibility for their actions.  That means fathers must continue to be on the hook for child support.  But it also means that mothers don’t get a free pass to avoid the consequences of their actions.


2 Responses to “The Pro-Choice Double Standard”

  1. Ali Says:

    Wow, I hadn’t thought of that before. Quite true.

  2. mwmusicvt Says:

    I find Dr. Phil to be an enigmatic sort of person. I can’t quite figure him out.

    Anyway, a man’s “right to choose” ends with whether or not he chooses to use a condom. Or at least, that’s what public school sex ed training would have us believe. I would concur that there is a double standard here, but I might argue that it isn’t particularly productive to purse that course of logic (not that it isn’t worth musing). As you mentioned, logic is not a strong suit of the liberal world view. I’ve tried to argue liberal positions from a purely logical standpoint only to be disappointed and discouraged that I used up so much of my time and energies.

    There are so many facets of our culture that have abandoned God or pushed Him so far out our lives that the vacuum created by His absence is being filled with a lot of claptrap cleverly designed by the ruler of this world. Where do you begin when trying to restore God’s will as our culture’s moral compass?

    Certainly, as you mention, responsibility for everyone involved should be paramount to any discussion. But that discussion about responsibility should have its foundation built on the word of God and anything less guarantees a complete dismissal of our values and doesn’t even begin to crack the rock hard exterior of the contemporary liberal (as experienced in the aforementioned argument against liberal ideas).

    Just some thoughts.

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