P O S I T I O N P A P E R O N
L E G A L I Z I N G " C H O I C E " F O R M E N
We want to improve the law to protect men's family planning. Men
should be given relief, a recourse or a remedy when tricked or
trapped into parenthood.
It's beyond question that unplanned parenthood can completely
disrupt a man's life. It disrupts his education(0), it disrupts
his mental health, and it often disrupts his entire family
life(1). We feel that, because of the impact to the man in this
matter of such basic concern, inasmuch as there are any rights
which are fundamental, that he should be given some relief, a
recourse or remedy from being tricked or trapped into parenthood.
There is also the distress associated with the unwanted child.
The continuing stigma of unwed fatherhood may be involved. Men are
the victims. The government cannot deny the detrimental effect
that the current paternity laws have on men.
Certainly there are problems regarding even the use of
contraception. Regardless of the circumstances of conception,
whether he is a victim of statutory rape(2) or whether it is
because of contraceptive fraud(3) he currently has no relief.
In a Constitution for a free people, there can be no doubt that
the meaning of "liberty" must be broad indeed. The Constitution
nowhere mentions a specific right of personal choice in matters of
marriage and family life, but the "liberty" protected by the
Fourteenth Amendment covers more than those freedoms explicitly
named in the Bill of Rights. Certainly we cannot say that there is
in the Constitution, so stated, the right to relief, recourse or
remedy from being tricked or trapped into parenthood. But neither
is there stated the right to travel or some of the other very
There is a long body of precedent where the Supreme Court has held
that it is the right of the individual to determine the course of
their own life in family matters; for whom they will marry - the
Loving case; that the state may not interfere with the
individual's choice regarding birth control - the Griswold case.
Roe v. Wade is the main case, holding that a woman's right to
privacy includes the right to abortion. Women's right to control
their reproductive lives was upheld in Planned Parenthood v.
Casey. So there is a long body of Supreme Court cases in the areas
of marriage, sex, contraception and procreation, which says that
there are certain things that are so much a part of the
individual's concern that they should be left to the determination
of the individual. One of the purposes of the U.S. Constitution
was to guarantee to the individual, the right to determine the
course of their own lives. The ability of men to participate
equally in the economic and social life of the Nation would be
facilitated by our ability to control our reproductive lives. It
is our position that men should have some relief, a recourse or
remedy when this right is infringed.
While over a million U.S. women abort each year(4), many thousands
of men have their "paternities established" in U.S. courts(5) and
preliminary data indicates that 33% of U.S. births may be
unintended by fathers(6). Men have been treated as an under class
without reproductive rights since Roe v. Wade in 1973, despite the
Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of "equal protection", and we
seek to emancipate men from this hypocrisy. Forcing only men into
parenthood is demeaning and offensive to the basic principles of
Where fundamental rights such as procreation are involved,
limiting these rights may be justified only by a compelling state
interest, and merely saving the state money doesn't rise to that
standard(7). Certainly, burdening a child with a bitter parent
doesn't rise to that standard either. The potential child's right
to child support and to share in the man's standard of living is
not absolute, as is demonstrated by single parent adoptions, which
are legal and looked upon favorably by the various social service
agencies. Biology isn't destiny.
If done properly, legalizing choice for men may reduce our taxes.
It would eliminate a subsidy for unwanted children who are more
vulnerable to drug abuse, dropping out of high school, crime and
prison. Discouraging these social ills would also be in children's
We aren't taking a position on abortion. We don't argue that the
man's right to relief, recourse or remedy is absolute. What we do
advocate, is that men should have some relief, a recourse or
remedy when tricked or trapped into parenthood.
0.) The high school drop-out rate among young fathers is over
twice as high as the average. "Adolescent Fathers in the
United States: Their Initial Living Arrangements, Marital
Experience and Educational Outcomes", Family Planning
Perspectives, Volume 19, Number 6, November/December 1987 by
1.) Nock, S.L., The consequences of premarital fatherhood, American
Sociological Review, 1998, 63(2):250-263
2.) State ex re. Hermesmann v. Seyer & parents, Kans. Supr. Ct.
No. 67,978 (1993)
3.) L. Pamela P. v Frank S., Court of Appeals of New York:
462 N.Y.S.2d 819 (Ct.App. 1983)
4.) Alan Guttmacher Institute, (212) 248-1111
5.) Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, Congressional
6.) Unintended Births: Women's Attitudes vis-a-vis their
Male Partners' Attitudes: 1982-1990, Joyce C. Abma and
Linda J. Piccinino, NCHS, 6525 Belcrest Road,
Hyattsville, MD 20782, (301) 436-8731
7.) See generally Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 265-6, 90 S.Ct.
1011, 1019, 25 L.Ed.2d 287, 1970.
Protect Planned Fatherhood