Giving up paternal rights

There is a news story here in New York about a doctor who stabbed his pregnant lover with a needle containing an abortion drug. This seemed to my husband to be quite a drastic measure. But what other measure could he have taken?
Don’t get me wrong, what the doctor did was wrong. I also don’t want to start an anti-pro abortion fight here. My question is: Why can’t a man legally renounce his child? Woman can and do give up parental responsibility of their children through abortion and adoption. The only thing a man can do is abandon his child.
Why can’t a man say -legally- “I don’t want this child?”

He can. He can sign away all parental rights and legal responsibility. However, he cannot stop a woman from having a child, because it is gestating inside her body. A man cannot legally stop a woman from having an abortion, and he cannot stop her from having a baby, either. It’s just the other side of the coin.

Well, they can. Kinda. Before a child can be adopted, the natural parents, both mother and father, have to agree to terminate all parental rights to the child. (In a lot of instances, such as where the father cannot be located, a court proceeding is necessary to sever the father’s parental ties, often in the father’s absence.) Men and women both go through the same process to waive parental rights in a child, and the complexity of that process depends on state law.

Now the abortion issue raises a thornier question, and one worthy of debate by people who can refrain from interjecting lots of tangental abortion rhetoric into it. (A good rule of thumb for participating in this debate would be that you have to accept the general proposition that abortion should be legal. Pro-lifers will have to use their imaginations if they want to play.)

In most states, a father is strictly liable for financially supporting a child of his, even (I think) if the father expressly waives all parental rights in the child. Therefore, the father has a financial interest in whether the child is born or not. Does that financial liability, then, entitle the father to force the mother to have an abortion if she otherwise does not want to? If he can’t, should he be allowed to require the mother to waive any claim for child support?

This debate is going on in Canada at the moment, where there was a case of a man being forced to pay an exhorbitant amount of child support - in fact, the amount exceeded his income.

My answer is that men should think about this before they knock up their eighteen year old mistresses. If they do not want any children ever, a vasectomy is quick and only minimally painful. Last time I checked, condoms worked pretty well when used properly, too.

Sorry, I forgot to add this last item to consider:

If your position is that a father can require that the woman choosing to forego the abortion waive any claim for child support, how do you address the impact of that on the public policies underlying the notion of child support in the first place?

Hmmmm, that is very interesting.

I would say that child support is based on the notion that the commitment of rising a child is independent of the commitment to stay in a relationship (marriage… whatever). Even after the relationship is dissolved, the shared responsibility for the child will remain.
There is also the acknowledgement that in today’s society, more resources are required to raise a child than one person can provide, especially if they are trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Question on the adoption issue: Both parents must give up their rights, correct? If no father is present a court will basically take away the absent father’s rights. Am I right so far?
O.K. then. Can a father put his child up for adoption without the mother being present (assuming mother is alive) and waive the absent mother’s rights? I am not being sarcastic, these are real questions.
I remember a court case a few years back in which a teenage girl wanted to put her baby up for adoption. The father wanted to keep the baby. He could not get his son back. Why?

I do not think a man can or should be able to force a woman not to have his baby. The question I was trying to ask: If the woman wants to have the baby the father is now financially responsible. Is this fair?

The birth control angle works both ways. Mistakes are made on both sides. A woman has the choice of whether she wants to pay for that mistake for the rest of her life. A man does not.

No, it is not fair. But it is one of those prices that we have to pay, being free people in a free society.
Individuals should work it out between themselves. Couples should talk about what happens if the woman gets pregnant unexpectedly. How do they both feel about abortion? Is the father willing to support a child financially or emotionally?
I knew a couple who were married and there was a surprise pregnancy. The husband told her straight out; “I am not ready for a child. I will not care for it in any way.” The wife took that into consideration and chose to have an abortion. She could have had the child and then used the courts to force her hubby into caring for the baby at least financially. But she respected him enough to refrain.

When a child is adopted, both parents must sign away custody. Most adoptive parents and agencies go to great lenghs to locate the father and get him to sign the legal work. (Private investigators do this alot) Normally, if the father is so absent that extreme measures are needed to find him, he is not interested in assuming custody and signs quickly. I do not know what is done when the father cannot be located: I assume the courts can wave his parental rights, but it would probably be a pain. Most adoptive parents move heaven and hell to get the father’s signature (and initials ion every line, for that matter). No one wants a Daddy suddenly appearing and waning to fight 3, 5, or 10 years down the road. No one wants to live with the possibility that it could even happen.
If the father does not choose to waive his parental rights, and the baby has been born, the baby cannot be adopted. In such a situation, esp. if the mother did not want custody (which is the usual default) than a court appearence would be needed to formalize custody arrangements. The non-custodial parent would be liable for child-support, based on income. The problem arises if the judge desides the the parent who want custody is not fit: e.g., no job, no permanent residence, no expreiance with childcare, no family support. This can be the case with girls as well as guys, but I daresay a gender bias might make a judge more likely to look for it in males (Not all fathers are deadbeat dads, but some judges seem to sometimes forget this.) In such a case, where the mother declined custody and the father did not waive parental rights but was declared unfit, the court would place the baby in foster care, preferably with a realitive of the child, otherwise with an approved family. The father would be advised of the steps he would need to take to regain custody (get a job, a home, take classes). I am willing to believe, however, that the gender bias of some judges might be strong enough to keep them from ever giving a single father custody–I have heard horror stories, but I don’t have cites.

All this only applies if, in fact, the baby has been born. Prior to that a man has no say. Personally, I find this appalling. Were I a man, and a woman aborted my baby without my express consent I would be crushed–I honestly do not think I would ever get over it. I would not object to some sort of “co-parent permission” being required. Sure, it is “her body” but it is “their baby”. Does it suck to have to be pregnant with a baby you don’t want? Sure. But it sucks to have cancer, too. Things happen. I think that if you had such a system both parents would have to register thier intent at or prior to the babies birth–i.e., both parents can decide if they want rights, and with those right finnacial liability.

And there is no point in talking about what couples “should” do or talk about before they get pregnant, or even have sex. The question is, how do we respect both partner’s rights when they don’t.

Really? Can a man sign away all paternal rights or is he bound by ‘child support’ and ‘paternity suits’???

I’m not saying I agree with the doctor stabbing his lover with the abortion drug. In fact, if she was to have an abortion it should have been administered by another doctor.

As much as I am an advocate of father’s rights, it is the woman’s body that has to bear the child. Having the child or not is ultimately her decision though - it is nice if both parents can agree on this.

Once the child is born however - then both parents deserve an equal say.

This subject generated an intense debate here last summer, the “Abortion for Men” thread, if you want to look it up.

This is of course true, and may be appalling, but it is a fact of biology, not of bad law. What a woman can do during her pregnancy is create a responsibility for both her and the man, or for neither of them. For a man to be able to allowed to reject responsibility for himself only is not the same right a woman now has. The equivalent right for a man would be to allow him to either force a woman to have an abortion, or forbid her. That wouldn’t be acceptable to most people, so we just have to deal with the unfairness of biology.

This got me wondering as to what exactly the doctor could be charged with? I mean, if it was early enough in the pregnancy (first trimester), could the doctor that injected the woman be charged with…what?

Concerning the unborn baby, maybe nothing, but concerning the woman, certainly assault and possibly even attempted murder.