April 18, 2024

Is ‘financial abortion’ an idea whose time has come?

Men should have the right to cast off all ties and obligations for their children

If women have a right to get right of a baby, why shouldn’t men? This radical idea has been kicking around for about 20 years, but seems to becoming more popular. In 1998 Brown University sociologist Frances K. Goldscheider floated the idea of a “financial abortion” in order to achieve true gender equality.

Earlier this year the youth wing of the Liberal Party in Sweden adopted the idea. Up until 18 weeks of pregnancy, it argued, men should have the right to relinquish all rights and responsibilities for their partner’s child. Unsurprisingly, the proposal went to the same place as the Young Liberals’ proposals for legalizing necrophilia and consensual incest — nowhere at all — as it sounded absurdly sexist and anti-feminist.

But dyed-in-the-wool Australian feminist, comedian and author Catherine Deveney has revived the idea. The litmus test is simple:

Is it fair for people to be forced to become parents against their wishes? If it’s not fair for a woman to be forced to bear a child or have an abortion, it follows it’s not fair for a man to be forced to become a parent.

The idea becomes slightly more plausible in the light of the slogan “every child a wanted child”. What if a man does not want a child? How can you force him to love his wee sprog?

“I believe every baby should be wanted, and every parent should be willing,” writes Deveney. “When we consent to having sex, we do not automatically consent to becoming a parent. If, when a cis male and cis female have vaginal sex, their contraception fails, it doesn’t mean both people have to become parents. The options are abortion, adoption, parenting together or sole parenting.”

The most obvious objection is that a man should be financially responsible for the child. But, says Deveney, “this kind of thinking is founded in oppressive heteronormative values and belongs in the 1950s.”

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