Is it better to be a moron than a deadbeat?

This story about a push for men to be able to opt out of financially supporting a child if they don’t want the child is a few days old already and it’s been analyzed to death. I don’t think it needs any deep analysis, since it should be clear that sex can lead to children. Anyone who doesn’t know this shouldn’t be engaging in sex. With respect to this case, it’s possible to argue that the two now-parents had a contract that the woman violated. I have no idea how valid that argument is or how contract law would treat that. What remains as obvious is that if you have sex, you deal with the consequences.

What’s interesting in this story is this:

State courts have ruled in the past that any inequity experienced by men like Dubay is outweighed by society’s interest in ensuring that children get financial support from two parents. Melanie Jacobs, a Michigan State University law professor, said the federal court might rule similarly in Dubay’s case.

“The courts are trying to say it may not be so fair that this gentleman has to support a child he didn’t want, but it’s less fair to say society has to pay the support,” she said.

This is absurd. This is the same reasoning that traps men into financially supporting children later proven to be another man’s child, just so the child may cared for by someone, anyone with a paycheck. Or, if the parents separate, the courts and state laws default to the idea that the mother is the more qualified full-time caregiver and the father is the more qualified financial caretaker, facts be damned. This is the inequity that should be under attack. When it’s possible for the mother to have custody 90% of the time (or more), yet the father is responsible for 70% of the cost (or more) because he makes a higher salary, something is wrong. I’m not advocating paying for possession of the child, for lack of a better description, but both parents are responsible for conceiving the child. It’s inherently unfair to use “he can afford it” (sometimes he can’t) as a legal basis, yet to pretend that the father is too incompetent to care for his child for more than one or two weekends per month. Still, courts do it all the time.

If a man has sex, he should be responsible. Perhaps some middle ground solution is possible on reproductive rights surrounding wanted vs. unwanted children. It’s “unfair” that women get more control between conception and birth in this situation, but simple biology dictates that more than anything. The practical solution is inevitably going to be ugly. It shouldn’t be stupid after the child’s birth, though, and that’s where these activists need to push legislators and courts to fix the system.

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