The National Center for Men have finally gone and done it. For over a decade, they have been looking for a test case to overthrow the child support laws in every one of the 50 states. Now they think they have found it.
A man who was deceived by his girlfriend conceived a blob of tissue/fetus/child (depending on your point of view) and is now being compelled to pay child support. He’s arguing compulsory child support violates the equal protection clause. Years ago, when I argued on Usenet against abortion, I would bring forward a similar contrarian position in order to shock my pro-abortion opponents.
Pro-life: "Is the choice to have sex a choice to have a child?"
Pro-life: "No child exists at conception, right?"
Pro-abort: "Of course not."
Pro-life:"When would you say that a child clearly exists?"
Pro-abort: [the answer here doesn't matter. Agree to use whatever time limit they choose].
Pro-life: "A woman may have an abortion for whatever reason she chooses, correct?"
Pro-abort: "Of course."
Pro-life: "Men and women have equal rights?"
Pro-abort: "As long as abortion is legal, yes."
Pro-life: "Alright. Who creates children?"
Pro-abort: "What do you mean?"
Pro-life: "Well, since we know there is no child at conception, the child must be created at some point X, well after conception. Now, the man only has sex. He's not there after conception (indeed, conception may take place hours after the sexual act). It is only at point X that a child exists. Therefore, the woman alone creates the child through the act of gestation. Legal abortion asserts a new thing: sex doesn't create children, gestation creates children. Sex merely creates a fertilized egg, a tissue mass.
Men don't get pregnant. Men don't create children. Men simply provide sperm. They provide one-half of a set of blueprints. The woman provides not only the other half, but the building site, the construction materials, she oversees the project, and she can destroy the whole thing anytime she wants. The man has got nothing to do with it. The existence of a child is not his responsibility - he has no choice, he's done nothing to create responsibility except have sex, and we already know that the decision to have sex is not a decision to have children, nor does it create a child.
So, the idea of compelling child support from the man is really a carry-over from the patriarchy, when men were thought to share responsibility for the existence of a child. Now that legal abortion has liberated us from those archaic ideas, we should throw away the last remnants of the old oppression.
If the woman wants to have a child, fine. Why should the man pay to support her lifestyle, her choice? If she can have an abortion for whatever reason she wants, then she is having a child for whatever reason she wants. In neither case does it have anything to do with the man.
Genetics has nothing to do with the problem. Is the man's twin brother equally responsible for his child? Are you legally responsible for supporting your parents? No, to both. It is equally nonsense to say that the act of impregnation creates responsibility - if the woman has no responsibility towards a child who isn't there, how much less does the man? Indeed, according to the law, an anonymous sperm donor can never be held for child support, even if he desires to be considered the child's father. What's the difference between an anonymous sperm donor and one who's name you happen to know? The second just has a slightly more personal form of delivery. In both cases, the child exists only because the woman decides to allow it to exist. You might argue that the child wouldn't exist without him, but neither would a Ford pickup truck exist without raw materials from US Steel. Yet we don't hold US Steel responsible for the existence of the pickup truck - we hold responsible the one who built it.
Or consider a woman who has identical twin boys. One grows up to be a carpenter, the other grows up to be an in vitro fertilization (IVF) specialist. The carpenter gets married, and he and his wife decide to have a child by IVF. The carpenter asks his brother to do
the honors, and his brother readily agrees. The carpenter donates his sperm, the doctor extracts an egg from the wife, fertilizes it with sperm, and implants it in the wife's womb.
Who is the father?
After all, the doctor used sperm genetically indistinguishable from his own and impregnated the carpenter's wife. Doesn't that make him the father? Is he responsible for child support? If not, then why is the carpenter?
If you really believe that men don't have a right to a voice simply because they don't get pregnant, then you darn well ought to support the demolition of existing child support laws. After all, as you say, this child-creation business has nothing to do with men.
The National Center for Men is using precisely this logic to attempt to weaken and destroy existing child support law. The group is adamantly pro-choice. They point out that women have the right to force men to support a child even though the choice to create the child is clearly not their legal responsibility. In fact, a woman can rape a man, conceive a child, carry it to term, and then force the victim of the rape to pay child support. This is true even if the rape victim is a minor - a child himself. Such a boy pays for the crimes of another with his life's earnings. This last is not legal fiction - it has actually happened. A 12 year-old boy was statutorally raped, yet the court found he had a duty to support the child his rapist bore. (STATE of Kansas, ex rel., Colleen HERMESMANN, Appellee, v. Shane SEYER, a minor, and Dan and Mary Seyer, his parents, Appellants. No. 67,978. Supreme Court of Kansas. March 5, 1993).
Examining the Popular Reaction
Now, Mona Charen and other conservative commentators are trembling with rage over this argument. They think it will somehow shock the feminists. It won't. Today's commentators will soon discover what I discovered over a decade ago. The National Center for Men is finally doing what NOW and NARAL have been in favor of for years.
Karen DeCrow, former president of NOW, argues vociferously that men should not pay child support. She is not alone; a great many “feminists” agree that compulsory child support should be abolished.
We know that impoverished households are disproportionately led by single mothers. Clearly, the removal of child support laws would increase the child poverty problem. But that’s ok. Every time another mother drops below the poverty line, the feminists have another stick to beat stay-at-home moms with.
Pro-abortion feminists (there's a contradiction in terms) aren’t interested in helping women, rather, they are interested in re-making all women into their own image. They are interested in justifying their own life's work. Every woman should be like them, every woman should become a sterile corporate worker bee. Human beings are a glut on the planet, and anything which reduces the human population is good. Removing subsidies for child production - and that's what compulsory child support is, in their view - is a good thing.
Personal responsibility for children is precisely what they have opposed for years. If children must be raised, then do it in a commune, a kibbutz, a village, so that no one gets too attached. We don't want anyone enjoying children. They might have more.