Yet another look at Dalton Conley's call for men's rights in abortion decisions.
I’ve just gone through the many lovely and sensible letters Salon readers posted in response to my partial defense, yesterday, of Dalton Conley’s call for a greater role for fathers in the pregnancy decisions of mothers. In case you missed it, I argued that a man deserves the right to call for his partner’s abortion when the woman wants a kid and he does not. It was, to say the least, controversial — and several letters stopped me cold. “So when do we start herding pregnant women onto armored trucks at gunpoint?” asked one reader. I have to say, it’s a good question.
Because on reflection, I’m not sure I really meant what I said. While reading the letters, I kept wondering, What the hell was I thinking to say that men should have the right to compel women to have abortions? Did I actually say that? Because isn’t that insane?
Yeah, it is a little bit insane. Because what I should have said was this: It’s really unfair that men don’t have more rights in matters of disputed pregnancies; men should, I think, have some say when the woman wants the kid and he does not. Probably most men — myself included — would want to have some input in whether or not they become parents. But I also should have noted that there’s something impractically nutso about the idea of compelling a woman to have an abortion if she wants the kid and he doesn’t, and that even if I espoused that position, I’m not sure how serious I could have been.
Maybe, as many readers said, this is one of those problems with no good solution. I still think Dalton Conley was right to point out how unfair things are today. But life’s unfair, some readers said wryly. When a woman wants the child and the man does not, or vice versa, that’s a puzzle you’re not going to solve.
Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. More Farhad Manjoo.
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