Encouraged by the very civil conversation in my previous post, here’s another thing that’s been puzzling me.
When a couple has a baby, they refer to it as “our child”. This seems like almost too obvious a point to make. The law recognises that it’s their joint responsibility – to take one example, if there’s a custody battle, both parents are potential custodians.
Yet a pro-choice supporter argues for “a woman’s right to choose”, thereby excluding the contributor of 50% of the genetic material from the decision. So in their thinking, at some point between conception and birth, control of the child has passed from being exclusively the mother’s to being both parents’.
My questions are: when does that happen? And why?
Maybe the analogy is inexact but if control of something of value passes from one person to another, it must be either as the result of a payment, or as a free gift.
It seems to me that once conception has happened, the father has done all that he’s ever going to do in terms of contributing to the creation of what may eventually be called “their baby”. The mother hosts the sperm and egg, carries the foetus to term and gives birth in pain. The father does nothing else until that point (if, for the sake of argument, you leave out the giving of moral support and shopping for food cravings :-).
So I can’t see any extra contribution that he makes, in pro-life thinking, to turn the child from something under the mother’s control (the foetus) to something under their joint control (a born baby). So it’s not the result of a payment.
Yet it’s not also a free gift, because if it were, it could also be not given – and yet the law does not allow mothers to say to fathers, upon the birth of a child, “Sorry, I’m keeping this one for myself, and you have no redress”. (Or does it?)
Surely, therefore, the father’s interest in the result of their union is as strong at conception as it is just after birth, and should be recognised as such? So abortion should be a joint decision, and pro-choice advocates should be arguing for “the mother’s and father’s right to choose”?
(For the sake of argument, let’s look at the principle, and leave aside the practical matter of what would happen if they disagreed.)