Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preglimony: A Really Bad Idea??

If a child is born and its parents do not live together the state may intervene to determine which parent should get custody (usually this is the woman) and which parent must pay child support (usually this is the man). There is a lot of bias in the above two determinations. Additionally if a child is born and the man and woman are married, but the husband later discovers his wife was letting another mule kick in her stall, so to speak, and the child is not his it doesn't really matter. Generally speaking a child born within marriage is presumed to be the husband's child and he is responsible for the child's support. So the man pays. Again this seems really unfair and certainly isn't how I would have designed our society's culture and laws but hey I just got here. The overriding rule seems to be that the man pays.

Until relatively recently one could at least say that a man would be paying to support an actual child-that is a human being that was born and had actually exited his mother's body. Because it was only then that science could safely perform the paternity tests and the mother and any number of men could go on The Maury Povich Show and make fools of themselves.

But science is always expanding the realm of what is possible and has advanced to the point that we can learn quite a lot of things, including paternity, about the child before it is born.

For people who do things the right way, i.e. are married and/or committed to each other before children are created, this is no big deal. But for people that aren't married, aren't committed to each other or are in situations in which the man has very good reason to doubt the woman's fidelity, this could be a very big deal. However gender politics being what they are, one law professor thinks that the new science should be used to shake men down for child support money before the child is born. How will "preglimony" make a difference in the child's life while the "child" is still in the womb?

Rather than focusing on the relationship between the man and a hypothetical child, the new technology invites us to change the way we think about the relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive. Both partners had a role in the conception; it’s only fair that they should both take responsibility for its economic consequences.
Former spouses are often required to pay alimony; former cohabiting partners may have to pay palimony; why not ask men who conceive with a woman to whom they are not married to pay “preglimony”? Alternatively, we might simply encourage preglimony through the tax code, by allowing pregnancy-support payments to be deductible (which is how alimony is treated).
The most frequent objection I hear to this idea is that it will give men a say over abortion.  A woman’s right to choose is sometimes eclipsed by an abusive partner who pressures her into terminating or continuing a pregnancy against her will, and preglimony could exacerbate this dynamic. 
And how workable would this be? If there is a miscarriage does the father get his money back? And how would the proper level of support be determined? If a negligent father does not pay child support and his ex and children lack decent housing, food or clothing that is an easy metric for a court to use. But in pregnancy the child is inside the woman's body and literally has all of its needs provided for by its mother. The father could be a millionaire or lack two nickels to rub together. That child will still have the same gestation period. The court can't measure the well being of the unborn child whose mother is not getting preglimony vs. one whose mother is. So giving money for "preglimony" seems a tad on the greedy side to me. The unborn child will never see that money, not one penny. 
And then of course there's the elephant in the room. Abortion
If the woman chooses to have an abortion, as is her right, does the father get the money back? Can he sue the mother for breach of contract? Theoretically if a custodial parent is not spending the money on the child or has placed the child in an unsafe environment then the non custodial parent can try to get the child removed and take custody away. This is impossible during pregnancy. More importantly does preglimony mean that the fetus is actually a human being that is deserving of rights and protection? I mean it appears to be logically inconsistent to argue on one hand that the unborn child is not legally protected. The argument is that the mother's right to bodily integrity trumps other considerations and thus the child may be killed by the mother for any reason at all. Yet in the very next breath the professor turns around and claims that the unborn child deserves protection and support because after all the mother didn't create it by herself and women children deserve the financial support of men.
I am, to say the least, not a feminist, and arguments like this are why. Again the only consistent theme seems to be that the woman chooses and the man pays.

Modern women have for whatever reason increasingly decided to have children outside of marriage. More than half of children born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock. Yet many women appear to still want marriage's financial protections. Well the solution is simple. Get married before you have children. Because if you're going to tell me that a fetus is a child and needs financial support from its father I'm going to agree that the fetus is a child and whatever financial support it needs before birth is dwarfed by the need it has for its mother not to kill it. 

What's your take?

Does preglimony make sense in a changing world?

Should we think of pregnancy as something that the woman should be compensated for?

Should married men ever have to pay for children that aren't biologically theirs?

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