As I've been mulling it over and talking with opponents of C4M (Choice for Men), (http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2011/09/20/why-choice-for-men-is-wrong/) I think I've drilled down to the core of their beliefs that prevent them from embracing C4M.
Embodied in two parts, I think it could be said like this:
1. Innocent children are due support from the people whose biological material lead to their conception.
2. Biology/bodily autonomy is responsible for women's ability to end pregnancy (and end the development of a fetus, which has no rights to support, before it becomes a child which does have rights to support.)
So now that I think I understand their position, I developed a realistic scenario that I want feedback on.
If you're reading this and have weighed in on either side of C4M before, I'd really appreciate it if you would please respond with what you think a just and fair child support system would do in this situation. You may leave an anonymous comment if you wish.
Three months ago, James and Janet went off for a weekend and had sex with other people. James has sex with a woman named Annie and Janet with a man named Richard. For simplicity's sake, Annie and Richard are both single. Both use condoms. Both condoms break. Janet and Annie both become pregnant.
Janet, who was not planning on speaking to Richard again anyway, has an abortion. She desired to have a child with her husband, not Richard.
Annie, is different. Annie in her mid-30s and due to a medical problem when she was younger, was told by doctors that she was sterile. She contacts James and tells him she is pregnant. James says that he will pay for her to get an abortion - as he realizes he is partially responsible for her pregnancy. Annie refuses to have an abortion. She knows that James is well-off - he was wearing nice clothes and driving a nice car. Plus, he offered to pay for the abortion. She decides she will try to raise the child on her own, and if she cannot, she will get financial support from James.
She knows that this may be her only chance to have a biological child of her own. She decides to keep the child and gives birth to Charles.
Unfortunately, Annie underestimated the costs related to having a child. Unable to take the time off from work to care for Charles, Annie is forced to take a lower-paying job that allows her enough time to spend with her baby.
Caught in a difficult situation, Annie applies for child support, as she cannot supply her Charles with all of his needs on her income alone.
Unfortunately, James does not have a job - he is still a stay-at-home dad.
Imagine you are the judge who is making the decision about this situation. You have Annie, Charles, James, Janet, Sam and Max in the courtroom with you. How would you rule? What would be most fair to all the people involved?
Would you force James to get a job to support Charles, while taking him away from his own biological, planned children?
Would you take money from Janet to support the child - as she is the one who supports James in the first place - thereby removing support from Janet and James children Sam and Max?
Would you simply award 20% of James income to Charles - which essentially amounts to $0 - and only hope that Annie can find some form of support for her child through charity or fortune?
Would you work out some other arrangement?
Hopefully this exercise has made you think a lot about what presumptions you have when it comes to the way our child support system works. Now, I present one last challenge:
Imagine this situation in a gender-equal world where James and Janet could either be the sole breadwinner in the houshold. If men start becoming income-less house-husbands on a wide scale - do you think women would still be having babies and supporting them alone? Or do you think more women would abort their pregnancies because the man that got them pregnant has no income?