Consider the following scenario.

A man and a woman have sex, and the woman gets pregnant. There are four possiblities.

1. Both the father and the mother want to abort the baby.
2. Both the father and the mother want to keep the baby.
3. The father wants to abort the baby, but the mother refuses.
4. The mother wants to abort the baby, but the father refuses.

Cases 1 and 2 present no problems. If both parents are in agreement, then they both get what they want.

Cases 3 and 4 are more interesting. Under the existing legal system, the mother gets her way, no matter what -- but is this just? (Setting aside the injustice of abortion itself. I want to focus, rather, on the numerous legal inequalities between men and women, which generally turn in womens' favor.)

Abortion is different from adoption, because if the mother wants to carry the baby to term but doesn't want to care for the baby the father has the legal right to take sole custody. But before the baby is born, he or she is entirely in the mother's power. What this means is that once the woman is pregnant she has many different ways to sever her legal obligations to the baby, but the father has none. If the mother chooses to give birth and the father doesn't want to be involved society will still force him to pay child support.

It's easy enough to say that the man made his choice when he decided to have sex with the woman (and, being opposed to abortion, that's my stance), but if you're in favor of abortion rights is it fair that only the mother has the ability to disentangle herself from the unwanted baby?

What alternatives are there? I don't think many people would be in favor of giving the father an equal voice in the decision to have an abortion. Should the father have the right to force the mother to have an abortion, or the power to prevent her from having one? Certainly not the former. Being opposed to abortion, I'd be happy to support the latter, but I doubt many who support abortion would agree.

So what then? I think that the father should have the right to insist that the mother make another choice. Either she has an abortion, or she relinquishs all claims to future financial support for the child. If the mother chooses not to have an abortion, she should bear the full responsibility for her decision. Once pregnant, women have all the "choice" and men have none.

What say you? I'm particularly interested in how a libertarian would view this topic. For myself, I think this horrible dilemma is an indication of the problems with abortion itself -- the difficulty only arises because of the twisted rationalizations required to justify killing babies.



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