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Solving the Pregnancy Question
I should start first with how I view responsibility and rights. As we all know, with rights come responsibilities. The converse of this should be that if there are responsibilities present, it follows then that the agent who has been designated as responsible should have some form of rights or “a say” in the situation.
The situation as it stands for men in this country is exceptionally unbalanced. Men who are deemed responsible as fathering a child (leave aside for a moment whether a zygote can be designated a child) have absolutely no rights or say over the fate of that child whatsoever. If the female who is impregnated decides to terminate the pregnancy, the man cannot stop her: he has no say. If the mother decides she wants to keep the child, not only does the man have no say concerning this decision, he is also now legally obligated to financially support the decision of the mother. If the mother decides to give the child up for adoption, ultimately, the adoption can occur with no input from the father.
How should we rectify this situation? What would be the most just solution?
There are really only a few solutions. If we were to give all of the responsibility to the man, that fact would also entitle him to say precisely what happened with the woman’s body, meaning that pregnancy would be a sentence of slavery for any woman. Not only is that a morally unacceptable course of action, it would make for a plethora of pragmatic issues as well: can the man dictate what she eats? How much sleep she gets? If he had the total rights and responsibilities for the pregnancy, then he should be able to dictate how that pregnancy develops. He can control if the mother smokes, drinks or eats “the wrong thing” for “his” baby.
We could make each contributor to the pregnancy 50% responsible, but this leads to the same problems as above; it means that a woman does not really control her own body. Also, it would be up to the law to determine what 50% of the rights over that pregnancy would actually look like, which would undoubtedly be a messy proposition.
The most just legal framework we can come up with for assigning rights and responsibilities for pregnancies is to hold the pregnant woman alone responsible for her pregnancy. Although it seems counterintuitive to think of this as just, a few analogies I developed will help illuminate this concept.
Say that you owned a yard. One day, whilst sitting on your porch, an individual walked by and asked “can I throw these seeds onto your yard?” You and you alone know that your yard is fertile. If you give permission for this person to throw seeds onto your yard and you had no prior agreement as to the consequences, then you and you alone are responsible for what grows there!
An additional example would be this: you are a person who is allergic to peanuts…you have a biological response to peanuts. Having full knowledge of this, you instruct someone to throw peanuts into your mouth. You and you alone are responsible for the biological consequences!
As it stands now, men have a majority of the responsibility and none of the rights as it pertains to pregnancies. This injustice must stop. If women are going to say “my body, my rights”, Objectivists and all people who believe in justice, must turn about and say “your body, your rights, your responsibilities.”
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