What moral obligation does a man have to a child of rape?

Let’s consider two scenarios:

  1. A man’s estranged wife is raped. The two of them are legally separated and in the midst of a divorce; however, they are as cordial as two persons in such a circumstance can be. They have a 2-year-old child together which they have already agreed the wife will maintain primary custody of. Impregnated by the rape, the wife decides to bear the child to term and to raise it alongside its sibling; she does not wish to call off the divorce. The man makes significantly more money than the wife, who will have to struggle to make ends meet with the added expense of the new baby.

  2. A man is raped by a woman–perhaps by force, perhaps by fraud. The assailant is impregnated and carries the baby to term, then is removed from the picture–she’s incarcerated, committed to a mental institution, whatever. She has no family or friends who could take the baby.

Please bear in mind that I’m not necessarily looking for the man’s LEGAL responsibilities in these cases–just what you think his moral and ethical responsibilities are, and why.

None, in both cases. It’s not his child in the first case and not his choice in both cases. He has no more responsibility than any other random individual.

I agree.

  1. No moral obligation unless the man put pressure on his ex-wife to avoid an abortion of the rape-fetus. The actual rapist should have 100% financial liability for the child above any criminal penalty paid for the rape IMHO. (ie I feel the rapist should pay twice what an estranged husband would pay for the childs wellbeing with 0 access to the child, preferably not being allowed to know anything about the child)

  2. The raped man has no moral obligation to his child. But may chose to take a moral position and authority over the child if he can do so in the childs best interest. ie the father should have first chance in adopting the child if the father is suitable as an adopting parent.

  3. becomes less clear if the man wasn’t clearly raped. Cases where the woman says she is on the pill when she wasn’t aren’t rape by fraud, and will carry differnt levels of obligation for the man considering the specific circumstances surrounding the two natural parents at the time of conception.

As divorced dad I have a slightly different take. Given the disparity in incomes and the coercive (rape against the women) nature of the situation, if I was the divorcing dad in that scenario I would probably feel some moral or parental duty to make the “blended” family as comfortable as possible within limits. If I just support my kid and shun the rape child this will produce (IMO) terrible strains in the family unit my bio child is enmeshed within and potentially lead to a highly dysfunctional situation for all involved. If only to protect the environment of my bio child, and assuming I am financially capable of doing so without major strain, I think I have some duty to support the family. If another man enters the picture as an on site dad and breadwinner my opinion may change on this issue.

IANAL, but I’m pretty sure that, from a legal standpoint, a man who’s married to a woman who becomes pregnant is presumed to be the father.

It doesn’t matter, legally, if DNA tests show that he can’t be the father. The law says he is.

So, he’s likely to have all the same legal obligations as any other Dad, if his wife elects to give birth.

The OP is looking for moral/ethical answers, not legal ones.

If the woman is raped before an actual divorce occurs, I’d say he does have a moral obligation to help support the child.

  1. Marraige is a moral contract, where you have implicitly promised to uphold this woman, care for her, and protect her. You may have announced your intent to end that relationship, but as is you’re still her husband. It’s your bad luck that this happened before you were released. Others may, and I’m sure do, see the definition of marraige differently, but that is MHO.

  2. What are you gonna do, drop by to pick your real child up, and shun the other? Let the other one grow up with the awfulness of being an outcast, because of something he/she had no control over?

On the other hand, if someone could really be that cold-hearted, especially when it involves a woman he had shared a marraige and child with, maybe the rape child would be better off without him.

As usual, Astro echos my thoughts.

Although the law presumes a husband is the father of his wife’s children this can be refuted by DNA testing. There have been cases of men having to pay child support for kids their wife had by another man, but in those case the man thought the child was was his and supported it for years. And I’m not sure a raped man wouldn’t have to pay child support. There have been case were boys who’ve been victims of statutory rape by adult women have been forced to pay child support.

Ideally, I don’t think any male should be held financially responsible for any child that he relinquishes parental authority/custody of, unless there was a preexisting contract/understanding with the mother that they were intentionally seeking a pregnancy and intended to coparent.

I’m with you on the divorced dad front. I think the possible damage to the man’s own child and her/his life with the mother and half-sibling mandates that the man do what he can to prevent it. And I can easily see the horror of making that second child feel like an outcast.

That’s a pretty odious POV, I have to say. Pregnancy is a natural and potential consequence of any sexual intercourse, and unless the woman goes out of her way to usurp the man’s free will (by rape/fraud), then he has a moral obligation to pay for the results of his fun.

But even with the pill there’s a chance of conception so he is aware of some chance of a child.

What does a man being raped by fraud mean?

“Rape” probably wasn’t the best word for me to use in the OP. But some persons have postulated or related cases in which a woman tricks a man out of his semen (by, for instance, using a condom without spermicide, taking the remains, and artificially inseminating herself), and other persons have called that rape. Upon reflection I don’t agree that rape is an appropriate descriptor for such an act (vile though it is), but I did want the group’s thoughts on what moral obligation the man in such a circumstance had to the child.

Yes, but I wasn’t looking for LEGAL obligations.

IMHO In the first situation, the man has no genetic relationship and no greater obligation to the child than the rest of society. In the second, I think that the man is the genetic father and due to the situation should be able to choose what rights he has: he should be able to disavow the child or to raise it - at the woman’s expense - his choice.