Glenn Reynolds, (AKA the Instapundit) and Ann Althouse are having a blog post exchange on the rights and responsibilities of men and women when it comes to sex and parenting, particularly what rights men have when it comes to the children they father.
It began with cases of unaccidental pregnancy and the rights and responsibilities of the fathers in those cases. Our laws give fathers lots of responsibilities and very little rights. He has no legal say in whether or not the mother aborts the child (although we do know that coercion is not uncommon in abortion.) He may prevent adoption, but cannot compel it. If the mother chooses to keep her child, he must pay child support. And if the father and mother are married at the time of the child’s birth, he is liable for that child’s support whether the child is his biological child or not. (I’m not commenting on the validity of these policies — except abortion — just noting that’s where we are.)
I’ve collected what I think are all the entries in this fascinating exchange:
Althouse, to which Insty updated so that one both elicits this response and replies to it.
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Then Instapundit, describing Althouse’s “social-connishishly” response.
I’m pretty sure that’s all of it, although I may have missed something in the to and fro.
It’s an interesting exchange and one that I think is honest in trying to come to a solution for real problems in a messed up cultural situation. Although I’m one of those dreaded social-cons and both Reynolds and Althouse lean (or fully embrace) libertarianism, I found a lot I agreed with in both of their arguments, if not their conclusions. As a Christian, I believe sex was created for a purpose. For Christians who hold to orthodox teachings, the answer is simple, if not easy: sex is intended within marriage only and primarily for producing children, in addition to other benefits. But even in marriage, we have subversion and lies because so many people enter marriage with fundamentally different ideas on family size and birth control.
I’m reminded of the quote by John Adams, “Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations.”
I don’t think oaths are considered sacred obligations anymore. I’m not sure most people consider any obligation “sacred.” Frankly, trying to make rules to deal with intimate relationships where there is no trust seems to me a futile endeavor. It is obviously immoral to try to force someone into a relationship — parenthood or marriage — which they don’t want. It’s also immoral to neglect your own children because, even if they were produced through deception, they are your children. But since we’ve already broken that duty with abortion, I understand why fathers would see no obligation to children they don’t want. You can’t break the bonds of sex, marriage, and family and not expect awful consequences. We’re reaping what we’ve sown.