I would say that since abortion is the positive commission of a definite act, whereas lack of abortion is the default omission (שב ואל תעשה - "sit and do not act"), I'd say that lack of abortion is the default, and that to have an abortion requires special authority. If so, we have two possibilities in my opinion; either:
- The woman has all the power and all the responsibility, and so she alone may abort, but she alone must pay financially for the child's upbringing, OR
- The man and woman are viewed as two equally-responsible and complicit actors, and so both must pay for the child's upbringing, but at the same time, mutual and unanimous consent is required for abortion. Either one may abort the abortion, because refusal - i.e. lack of consent - on the part of either returns them to the basic, default state of absence of abortion.
My point is that you cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot give the women independence and sole responsibility when it suits her but make the man responsible when it suits her. That's tyranny. Either both are equal with power and responsibility, or the woman alone has power and responsibility. (I don't offer the possibility of the man alone having power and responsibility because he doesn't have a womb, and so to grant him alone power and responsibility over the womb is patently irrational and absurd.)
Rape and health-issues are of course something else, however. In cases of rape and threat to the woman's health, then the access to abortion must be absolute and sacrosanct, lodged solely with her and uninhibited. But here, I am discussing the result of consensual intercourse. In such a case, if you say the woman's body is her own and her reproductive faculties her own, then this must be absolute, and every stage of pregnancy - both before and after childbirth - must be considered hers and only hers. If she has absolute control over her body, then she also has absolute possession of the consequences which follow, viz. child-rearing and custody and support. But if the man must pay child-support, or if he is to have child-custody rights, then he has an equal part in the pre-childbirth stage, i.e. pregnancy itself and abortion.
"With great power comes great responsibility." You cannot say that a woman's body is her own unless you are willing to grant her not only prerogative but also responsibility. If she has the right to have sex with whomsoever she desires, and if her body is her own to use or dispose of or abstain from using as she will desire, then she must receive not only authority and prerogative and choice, but even responsibility to bear the consequences. You cannot give her these only when they suit her, but give them to the man when this suits her as well. Either the woman is absolutely in control of all authority and responsibility, or she shares both authority and responsibility with the man. If the man must pay for the born child, then this is tantamount to saying the woman's body is not only hers but his as well.
A woman's body belongs to her and to her alone. By the laws of nature, she and she alone is the gatekeeper to her own orifices. If she alone has the power to authorize sexual intercourse with her, and she alone has the power to authorize abortion, then she alone should have to bear the consequences of all this. For the man to be required to pay child-support is tantamount to saying that he owns a portion of the woman's body, which you may accept or reject according to your notions of egalitarianism and women's rights. My point is that everything must be consistent. But I personally prefer that the man lack all authority and responsibility, because this would thereby declare that a woman's body is hers and hers alone, whereas granting the man both power and responsibility would declare that the man is an equal shareholder in the woman's body, which is repugnant to me. But I would prefer even such a repugnant situation to what we have today, because even if this is morally repugnant, it is at least consistent and fair.
You might say that the man is half the cause of the baby's existence, and that therefore, he should pay half the consequences, i.e. child-support. This argument thankfully avoids saying that the woman's body partially belongs to the man. But even so, if we say that the product of sex is half the man's and that he is responsible to pay for half, then we should say that he holds half the authority to authorize an abortion, meaning that both his and her consents are both required - unanimously - in order to allow abortion. Again: authority on the one hand and responsibility on the other must be equal. If the man is equal to the woman in paying for the baby after delivery, then he should be equal to the woman in what happens to the baby before delivery.
I insist that the woman's body is her own, and that she ought to bear everything, both authority and responsibility. If she wishes otherwise, then she must sign a contract with the man stipulating conditions for the use of her orifices. If she insists he pay child-support, then there should be a contract signed by him declaring so. Say, that sounds a lot like marriage!
One friend of mine, T. H., had a good reply to me:
Yeah, I also don't really get the question here. I'm not saying I accept the theory but it's internally coherent and it goes like this: Every man and woman has inherent responsibility for any children which he or she creates. He or she does not, however, have responsibility to or power over fetuses that bear his or her genetic material, as fetuses are not legal entities and therefore have no rights. Therefore, the only relevant right is the right of the woman to her body, which enables her to abort at will. Once the child enters the world, both parents assume full responsibility.I replied to her,
The key 'discriminatory' difference is that the man's ability to prevent the birth of the child, and thus to prevent his responsibilities from kicking in, is more limited than that of the woman. In essence, it exists only up to the point that he chooses to risk impregnation and then the question is out of his hands. The woman, on the other hand, continues to hold veto power over the birth of the child (and thus the duties she will bear thereafter). While perhaps this could be seen as unfair, it seems to logically result from biological differentiation. Morally speaking, the man chose to accept the risk of creating the child and the child is proximately caused by his actions, so I don't see a problem with assigning him duties just because there was another party who could have prevented the child but chose not to.
Or in 25 words or less, it's a bit of a raw deal, but he chose to knock her up.
T[...], your view is completely logical and fair as far as it goes. You're right that perhaps nature is dictating our civil laws; women possess their wombs and so they alone exercise authority over them, but both men and women result in children being born, and so both have responsibility. This is indeed internally consistent.
But here's where we begin to see a problem:
Imagine the man is willing to have an abortion or to give the child up for adoption, thereby freeing himself (and the woman, by coincidence) from responsibility. The man has declared that he has no interest in maintaining a stake in this child, and he is willing to ensure it goes on to someone else who will in fact care for the baby. (Whether G-d in heaven or an adoptive parent.) If the man simply wanted to dump the child on a curb, then this would of course be invalid and unjust, but here, he actually does want to do something just and fair, and avoid his responsibility in a conscientious manner.
But the woman can then veto all this and insist that she wants to keep the baby - which is of course a reasonable desire, don't get me wrong - and that she insists the man help pay for the child. The man was willing to put the baby up for adoption and ensure it was well paid-for by someone else, but now the woman chooses to keep the baby for herself and yet force him to pay for it!
It is the above scenario which I find especially tyrannical, and which inspired my thinking on this entire subject in the first place. It is fundamentally unjust, I believe, for the woman to be able to coerce the man in this way. (Of course, it could also conceivably happen in reverse, with the man wanting to keep the baby and the woman wanting to put it up for adoption, and the man seeking child-support from the woman.)
I believe the above scenario adequately points out the hidden injustice in the present system. That's why I believe we should instead grant ALL power and ALL responsibility to the woman, so that she alone may choose whether to abort or put up for adoption or retain the baby, and she alone must bear the financial burden of whatever decision she makes.
Of course, women would be free to force any sexual partners to sign contracts with them. I see no reason why a woman should not present her partner with a written legal contract stipulating terms regarding any pregnancies to ensue.