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How to reconcile two very different opinions (pregnancy/rights)

(99 Posts)
Thurlow Wed 16-Aug-17 18:42:38

It occurred to me today that two opinions I hold quite strongly are completely different, and its bothering me.

The first is abortion. I believe that it is entirely a woman's choice whether to continue a pregnancy or not. The father can have an opinion and, in an ideal world, will support the woman's opinion but it's still her final choice whether to go through with the pregnancy or not, even if the father is absolutely desperate to have a child. I don't believe that any woman should ever have to continue with a pregnancy they don't want.

The second is about father's rights once the baby is born. Take naming the child. Sometimes I see comments like, "you carried the baby, you gave birth to the baby, you have the final say in what name they carry." I believe that just because a woman is the only person biologically capable of carrying a child doesn't mean that the child is somehow more "theirs". It's not like some sort of global conspiracy whereby men chose not to be the ones to get pregnant. So, both the mother and the father (assuming a fair relationship) are equal parents.

But these are drastically different opinions sad Does anyone understand or have any suggestions to help me work it out, as it's slightly bothering me.

Backingvocals Wed 16-Aug-17 18:49:47

Not different at all. As soon as the child is birthed it is a person in its own right and I agree that at this point the parents are equally responsible. Before birth however, it is entirely dependent on and subsidiary to the woman - physically but also in my view morally and legally. Only the woman's life is affected and jeopardised by being the sex that bears the child. If women are to be fully equal humans they alone must have rights over their body, no matter what they are carrying.

As long as babies make their way into the world through the vehicle of a woman's body only women choose what happens. As soon as they can be gestated and birthed in a laboratory then it's both parents.

NutCase82 Wed 16-Aug-17 19:06:24

The thing IMO with...

Abortion is that people do have opinions but it is ultimately the mother who has to live with her decision, whether that decision is to continue or not, if she is swayed or feels pressure from another party and their opinions may result in terrible consequences for her. Other parties can just walk away, she cannot.

Naming is that mainly no matter what, the mother is responsible for the child from the day of conception. Once the child is a separate entity the mother still largely responsible (longer maternity than paternity allowances and mothers name goes on birth certificate unquestionably). The mother can try to protect a child from a father by not allowing his name on the birth certificate, she can choose, the father cannot. This is a right of the mother, regardless of the father. It is the only protection some mothers have the chance to offer their child for the future, in some circumstances. I don't agree with the term 'you carried it....' it's a bit of a barbaric way of putting it, but ultimately the child is seen as the mothers' most of the time - when it's not, is usually when protection from the mother is necessary in which case authorities have the rights for the child .

VestalVirgin Wed 16-Aug-17 19:08:45

Children are their own persons. How much anyone else should get to decide over them should be determined by how much that person is involved in caring for them.
Most often the mother is the most involved parent, and it is almost guaranteed that the mother will (even if she's not the primary carer) the one who will be blamed if the child is bullied because of a stupid first name. It would not be feminist to ignore that.

When it comes to the baby's last name, the mother is the parent we know for sure, so children having the mother's last name just makes more sense.
At least until they're old enough to have their own opinion on it.

Thiswayorthatway Wed 16-Aug-17 19:33:23

I don't think that the father to be's view on abortion should be disregarded in every case. Abortion affects men too, it is their potential child as well.

SpaghettiAndMeatballs Wed 16-Aug-17 19:39:07

Abortion affects men too, it is their potential child as well.

Yes, ideally this would be a conversation - however when it comes down to bare metal, it's the woman's choice - it's her that's taking all the risk here, and she gets to choose.

When it comes to names and such, I do feel your discomfort - a bit of me does go 'well, hang on' but then another part of me also says that the woman did put in the effort, that them having the casting vote really isn't that unreasonable.

But then I have 2 kids, one with each of DP's and my surname, and with first names that we jointly picked (although I did veto naming the first the same as his father/grandfather/great grandfather - gave it to him as a second name instead)

Thiswayorthatway Wed 16-Aug-17 19:41:02

I feel that both parents should have an input into both issues.

RandomDent Wed 16-Aug-17 19:43:50

I am with Backingvocals. Until the baby is born it is not a person in its own right, and is wholly the responsibility of the pregnant woman.

Thurlow Wed 16-Aug-17 19:45:20

The concept of the baby not being a person until born does help separate them.

BigDeskBob Wed 16-Aug-17 19:53:31

"I feel that both parents should have an input into both issues"

How would that work? Who has the final decision? A compromise can be reach with names, but not with a termination of pregnancy.

SylviaPoe Wed 16-Aug-17 20:47:57

I don't see the relationship between the two.

Abortion is an issue around having consent over who can use your organs.

Parental responsibility is an issue around relationship to a child. In the case of a newborn, the mother has a stronger argument for a relationship to the child than the father does. I'm not in favour that any father at all should be allowed to take a newborn off a mother for 50% of the time, without the mother's consent, when he has no prior relationship to the child.

I don't know what the law is, but I seriously doubt that a father could turn up at a maternity ward in the UK and go, right, the baby is pushed out, I insist on having this baby with me for half of the day.

It's the reality that the woman does have a 9 month prior commitment to the child that she has demonstrated through pregnancy. This isn't some conspiracy against men. They just can't get pregnant, so start off behind on the task of proving themselves to be a person who should have parental responsibility, or who has a bond with the child.

A foetus is in some sense a person who the mother has a relationship with, has nourished and cared for. That doesn't undermine the right to an abortion.

I don't think that your opinions are conflicting. The woman is the only person who is able to make a decision on abortion because she can't just hand over the foetus to her partner to help with the pregnancy. Once the baby is born, he is able to take a more equal role in caring for it so should be more involved in decisions.

SpaghettiAndMeatballs Wed 16-Aug-17 21:35:27

I feel that both parents should have an input into both issues

Sure they can have input - but equal input? Of course not - at the end of the day, the one who's life is at stake gets to choose, surely - what argument is there for a man being able to force a woman to risk her health?

SylviaPoe Wed 16-Aug-17 22:09:54

Why should they both have an input?

The whole thing is confidential between a woman and her doctor.

She is under no obligation to even tell the father that she is pregnant.

LetsSplashMummy Wed 16-Aug-17 22:25:02

I think there are differences. Abortion is black and white in that there are only two outcomes - naming has the possibility of compromise.

Also the woman not getting her name has the same impact on her as the man not getting his has on him, they are therefore on an equal footing. A man does not have to go through an abortion if the woman chooses to, nor will be forced to carry a baby he doesn't want. As the outcome for not getting their own way is very different for men and women, there isn't equivalence in terms of choosing to keep a baby or not. If couples could choose who carried the baby, I'm sure this would be more similar to naming it.

I don't think these are contradictory opinions but simply recognising that things are complex. That's ok.

Dervel Wed 16-Aug-17 22:58:32

One would hope baby naming is entered into with a spirit of co-operation. If you are actually at a point where "rights" are being brought up you probably have bigger problems.

I've been in the position of being a dad to a child whilst not being with the mother, and honestly the name was pretty far down the list of priorities. As it turned out I proposed the name and my ex liked it so we went with that.

It wasn't something I would have wanted to have made a conflict out of. It's hardly the right tone to set with someone I am needing to co-parent with either. I think it's probably wise for women to have this one personally.

My child has my surname as well, although through default as my ex hadn't finalized her divorce and didn't want our child to have the name of a man that had nothing to with them, and didn't seem bothered to use her maiden name.

It's weird as I've never been overly attached to my surname, being raised by a single mum, with help from her parents I've always been more part of that side of my family. My own father couldn't really have cared less. I only feel attached to it now by virtue of having a child. Personally I think Vestal makes a common sense argument. Matrilineal names are the logical choice.

BasketOfDeplorables Thu 17-Aug-17 10:04:47

I don't understand the the recent trend of giving a baby the father's surname when the mother doesn't share it. I know a few people who have kept their own name, yet given someone else's to their child.

TheSparrowhawk Thu 17-Aug-17 10:22:20

As Dervel said, if it's got to the stage where the parents are talking about 'rights' when it comes to names then I think there's not much to be done to salvage that relationship.

As for men having an equal say in whether the woman carries the baby to term or not, I'll accept that situation once men give me an equal say in how they use their bodies. Given that men won't do anything at all to make life easier for women in any way, for the time being they can fuck right off.

TeiTetua Thu 17-Aug-17 16:11:49

On the question of a child's surname, I've heard about a suggestion that in fact children should have their fathers' name, on the grounds that by attaching his name to a child, a man officially takes on the responsibility for supporting that child. And if he fails, then at least there's a link left, that connects him with the child. Whereas everyone knows who a child's mother is, and women aren't nearly so likely to try and get away with failing to support their children. It is all hideously sexist and certainly not always effective(!!) but in the time since surnames were invented perhaps it was seen to help.

SylviaPoe Thu 17-Aug-17 16:19:28

Even in a relationship which is fair and where rights are not being brought into it, it's still not a very bad idea that a woman who has been pregnant and given birth is going to have a whole load of emotions and feelings towards that child that nobody else is going to be having.

People can aim for fair parenting and involved partners while still acknowledging the particular emotional experiences of a woman who has given birth.

'I believe that just because a woman is the only person biologically capable of carrying a child doesn't mean that the child is somehow more "theirs". It's not like some sort of global conspiracy whereby men chose not to be the ones to get pregnant. So, both the mother and the father (assuming a fair relationship) are equal parents.'

This has an implication that because men don't get pregnant, we should ignore or exclude the emotional content of pregnancy and birth as part of the mother child bond for many women.

It feels as if an idea is pushed that unless we trivialise the physical and emotional elements unique to motherhood, men won't agree to be involved parents or agree with abortion rights.

BasketOfDeplorables Thu 17-Aug-17 18:09:56

Completely agree, Sylvia. Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding are trivialised because men can't do them.

BertieBotts Thu 17-Aug-17 18:23:35

For me the issue of abortion is relating wholly to the fact it's the woman's body and she gets to make decisions about what she does with that body. Forcing someone to have an abortion is awful. Forcing someone to go through a whole 9 month pregnancy and childbirth when they don't want to is also horrific.

The baby doesn't come into it. Sorry, baby. It's the same principle as organ donation. You can't force someone to donate an organ/blood/etc even if doing so would save someone's life, and childbirth is much more intrusive than donating some blood. Plus at the point abortion is usually being debated the "baby" is really just a small collection of cells, not a being capable of feeling fear or pain anyway.

Once the baby is born it's the responsibility of both parents until such time as it can be responsible for itself.

Not conflicting views at all.

Batteriesallgone Thu 17-Aug-17 22:48:30

I used to feel babies were equally the responsibility of both parents, both had equal rights etc. Then I had babies.

They cried for me, they fed from me. They knew my smell and my body. I made them with my body they were flesh of my flesh. DH contributed ONE cell - a crappy half cell at that - all their skin, blood, bones came from ME.

Parents aren't equal at birth, they just aren't. Witness a newborn crying for its mothers breast and it's obvious. Why we feel we have to pander to men who can't cope with being the less important one (compared to a woman! shock) is beyond me.

Thurlow Fri 18-Aug-17 08:17:01

This has an implication that because men don't get pregnant, we should ignore or exclude the emotional content of pregnancy and birth as part of the mother child bond for many women.

It feels as if an idea is pushed that unless we trivialise the physical and emotional elements unique to motherhood, men won't agree to be involved parents or agree with abortion rights.

While I see what you are saying, I'm not sure I quite agree with that. Yes, of course there are unique elements to motherhood and they should be recognised and applauded. I just personally don't believe that automatically means the mother is somehow more of a parent, or has more rights, over a baby. Obviously this is looking at it from the perspective of a healthy relationship, which will not be the case in all situations. You can celebrate motherhood, pregnancy and birth without undermining fatherhood too.

I don't understand the the recent trend of giving a baby the father's surname when the mother doesn't share it. I know a few people who have kept their own name, yet given someone else's to their child

Names are such a problematic one. I would say I don't understand a woman changing her surname on marriage - or indeed anyone feeling the need to change their name on marriage, even if they made a new family name - therefore the possibility of "sharing" a surname wouldn't occur. For me, my children are individuals and don't share my first name or middle names; they are their own people with their own names. So it wasn't important at all for me to share a surname as well. It's just another part of their name.

Doglikeafox Fri 18-Aug-17 08:27:41

I don't think these are differing views either. What you are actually saying is that the woman should always have control over her own body but once the baby is outside of it, he/she is their own person and then has two parents equally responsible for them.

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