Friday, November 13, 2009

Abortion and paternal responsibility

What can be done to equalize the consequences of irresponsible sex? Men can dump their girlfriends and move on, often without consequences. They brag in the locker room, the girls get an embarrasingly oversized stomach and then a child to take care of unless it is given up for adoption or aborted. That is why, I think, women's rights groups have been largely pro-choice.

But what would you say to the idea of aggressively using DNA technology to identify fathers and to require paternal responsibility. What would happen if girls knew that if they carried their child to term and kept it, that the father could have his wages garnished to make sure she could afford to take care of it? And what would that do to guys to make them think twice about jumping into the sack without serious commitment?

It seems to me that this idea should be appealing both to pro-lifers and to feminists. If you think abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, or illegal and rare, you can still agree that this is a good idea.

There has to be something wrong with this idea. It's too practical.


Joshua Allen said...

Isn't that what happens today? It's called paternity tests and child support payments. The primary inequality is that the woman can easily shirk *her* commitment by aborting the child, while the man has no such option,

Victor Reppert said...

But does this happen efficiently? Does it happen in every case? Can the system be improved?

Of course, if she aborts, he's off the hook, too.

Victor Reppert said...

Could we have a comprehensive DNA database collected when people enroll in school, eliminating the process of having to get possible dads to donate their DNA for testing?

What I am trying to develop is my Missed Opportunity Theory when it comes to abortion. Both sides in the debate (mostly) say that abortions are bad things and we should have as few of them as possible. But because the two parties rely financially on people who are militant on both sides, political leaders miss opportunities to act in ways that lower the abortion rate. Hence, more fetuses than necessary are aborted.

Clayton said...

We have groups burning Democrats in effigy because they want to give a public health option. I don't know that a database with all of our DNA in it will go over so well with the villagers.

Smokering said...

Not everyone goes to school. :p I guess a DNA test could be done at birth, but either way I wouldn't be too happy about the government having something as personal as my DNA on file.

I do know some women forego child support because soliciting it would entail letting an abusive ex know about the baby. If a woman, rightly or wrongly (and in some cases I think it is indeed right!) wants to keep a child away from his biological father, she can't really ask him for money. So some guys effectively get off scot-free just by being the kind of people no mother wants around her child. I'm not sure what the answer is to that one.

drwayman said...

Dr. Reppert - I wonder if these aborted babies were allowed to grow up and become taxpayers... Outside or morality and responsibility, isn't just the economic impact of abortion enough to declare it missed opportunity?

Clayton said...

"I wonder if these aborted babies were allowed to grow up and become taxpayers... Outside or morality and responsibility, isn't just the economic impact of abortion enough to declare it missed opportunity?"

I don't know if Dr. R. will answer, but the question raises some interesting issues. Should we assume that if there were fewer abortions, there would be more taxpayers? Let this world be @ and imagine a possible world very similar where abortion is criminalized, w1. The thought that there will be more taxpayers in w1 than @ seems to rest on the assumption that the women in @ will have fewer children over their reproductive careers than their counterparts in w1. That's not obvious. Many women have abortions and then later have families that are as large as they want them to be when financial conditions are such that they think they can support these numbers. If these women were to carry a fetus to term earlier in life, they might not be able to deal with the economic pressures and decide against having children later. It's a very complicated equation, even if we bracket for the amount of tax revenue we could get from the adults in @ and w1.

drwayman said...

Clayton - I would like to see some economist or mathematician take on this task of the economic impact of abortion. I cannot find research anywhere about that topic. If you find it, would you let me know?