A paper abortion is the idea that a biological father to a child can decide to remove himself from the life of his soon-to-be child by signing over any rights and duties that he may have from a legal perspective. This concept is also known as a financial abortion or a statutory abortion. As a father, you have rights and duties to care for your child once he or she is born. Foremost among those duties would be a duty to provide for your child in terms of material support. A paper abortion would, in theory, allow you to shed any legal obligations to your child before he or she was born.
In many ways, this is a concept that may seem distasteful. Being able to raise a child that you helped to create is the most critical and central issue when it comes to our world. In many ways, the strength of the society is based on the strength of its families. However, there are various situations where it may be a consideration for a man to attempt to remove himself from any specific parenting role or responsibility. This controversial topic is one that we will consider in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.
What is a paper abortion?
A paper abortion is based on the idea that a man should have the same options as a woman when it comes to choosing whether to take part in the raising of a child. The idea is that women can have an abortion whereas men do not have the opportunity to control the process involved with gestating and giving birth to a human. As such, women can choose to give birth to a child that the father may not want. This puts a father in a position where he may be raising a child or responsible for raising a child that he would prefer not to. This is not to say that this is a desirable or pleasant way to approach the concept of parenthood, but it is the reality for some couples.
We hear a lot about equality of the sexes and gender equality in our national conversations. There is a supposed and much-maligned pay gap between men and women that politicians are forced to talk about every so often when it is election time. The consensus is that men and women should be treated equally as much as possible and that the opportunities to have autonomy over certain areas of their lives should be afforded in the same amount to men and women.
Paper abortions take this concept to the next level and present an argument that a father should be able to relinquish his parental rights and absolve himself of any financial responsibility concerning that child in the early stages of pregnancy. The father could inform the mother that this is the decision that he will be making. A mother would still be able to decide whether to give birth to the child and raise the child as their own, give birth, and then give the child up for adoption, or to abort the child. This idea of a paper abortion would be a situation in contrast to what fathers go through currently.
The current law in the United States is that there is no way to engage in a paper abortion from a father’s perspective. If you are a man who impregnates a woman then you will be responsible from a financial perspective for raising that child. It doesn’t matter if you were married to the woman who gave birth or if you had no relationship at all with the woman. There would be no avoiding this circumstance and you would be responsible at least for the financial well-being of that child moving forward.
Arguments surrounding paper abortions began to circulate towards the end of the 20th century. The basics of an argument in favor of paper abortions are that a potential mother can assess her willingness and capabilities surrounding raising a child. She can assess her current situation and whether she thinks that raising a child would be conducive to her present circumstances. This allows her a certain period to make an assessment and then determine what option she would like to take. One of these considerations is whether she is financially able to raise the child. Other considerations would be the time necessary to raise a child, the living circumstances she has as well as her employment.
On the other hand, if the mother wants to give birth to the child a putative father would not be in the same position to be able to assess whether he has the wherewithal to raise the same child. All the considerations that we just talked about concerning a potential mother would not be afforded to a father. If you’re a father who is informed that a significant other or partner is pregnant then at best, you would be able to have a discussion with her about whether to give birth to the child. Alternately, it is her decision whether to give birth. While you as the father may be able to lend your voice to the conversation you are not the final decision-maker.
We can stop the discussion at this point to again make note of the fact that this is, obviously, a very controversial subject. Some of you reading this blog post may understand what a putative father is going through in this type of situation. Therefore, you may agree with the argument that a paper abortion is necessary or even a good thing. On the other hand, some of you may be looking at the situation in abhorrence at the idea that a father could wash his hands of a child before he or she is even born. This is also a discussion that is being had nationwide in a variety of different settings. Certainly, it is not a topic that fails to bring about emotional responses in people.
Arguments in favor of legalizing paper abortions
All the aforementioned information regarding the ideas surrounding paper abortions our theoretical. At least in the United States paper abortions are not legal. This means that a father cannot sign over his rights to a child before the child is born. Even after the birth of a child, a father cannot sign over his or her rights without first going through a court and having a judge determine that it is in the best interests of the child for the father to do this. In most circumstances, this is not going to be approved by a judge.
The most cited reason by proponents of paper abortion as to why it should be legalized is that in an age where our society is trying to push as hard as possible for the equality of the sexes, this is an obvious area where men are at a disadvantage when compared to women. When a woman has a chance to access abortion and does not have to check in with the child’s father before doing so this gives her greater bodily autonomy than a man would have. Therefore, a paper abortion would level the playing field as far as autonomy is concerned. Whether or not it is even appropriate to think about autonomy in this regard Is a conversation for another day.
Another argument is based on morality. No matter what a parent decides to do when it decides to raise a child, give the child up for adoption, or abort a child, a mother, and a father are entitled to consider the issue on moral grounds equally. Because the moral implications of having a child fall equally on the shoulders of mothers and fathers, the argument goes that a paper abortion would extend that equality to the legal realm. A paper abortion would help a father, for example, be able to follow through on where his or her morality is guiding him if he believes that he should not be taking part in the raising of the child.
Putting together these arguments, it would be inconsistent for a man to have to legally support a child when the moral arguments and gender equality arguments contradict this statement. It is argued that because mothers and fathers have equal stakes in the raising of a child they should also have equal stakes in determining whether to move forward with determining whether to take part in the raising of the child. A father would have a right to refuse to take part in the raising of a child were paper abortions made legal.
Another argument in favor of paper abortions is that women are not penalized for being sexually active because of their ability to obtain an abortion after becoming pregnant. The argument here is that just because a man consents to have sexual relations with a woman does not mean that he consents to becoming a father. If a man is forced to financially support a child that does not mean that a court can force him to develop a relationship or even visit with the child. The result is that a child may have a financial relationship with their father but nothing more. In some ways, this could be more harmful than beneficial as it relates to that child.
Some philosophers have gone so far as to argue that a man should only be responsible for costs associated with the pregnancy if the child’s mother chooses to give birth and raise the child. For example, rather than having a legal responsibility to praise and support the child after his or her birth, a father who elects a paper abortion would only have to pay a portion of any pregnancy costs like doctor’s visits, other medical expenses, and things of this nature. Once the child is born, he would not be obligated to support the child in any way or the child’s mother.
The argument in favor of paper abortions comes down to the idea that women can make decisions for themselves and eventually raise a child on their own. Many people refer to this arrangement as forced child support. In many ways, the act of fathering comes down to the ability to pay money in child support. This can be seen by some as an unfair generalization but anyone who has gone through the family courts can tell you that many fathers are seen to receive financial support.
Arguments against paper abortions
Just as there are many arguments in favor of paper abortion there are arguments against the arrangement. For one, paper abortions are seen as unnecessary when a person could instead choose to use birth control or practice abstinence rather than a path to consider an abortion or even a pay-for abortion from a father’s perspective.
Another argument against paper abortions is that not all men should be able to legally abort their way out of responsibility for a child. For example, an argument is raised that a man who sexually assaults a woman who becomes pregnant and chooses to keep the child should not be able to escape responsibility for raising that child in a situation like that. This is a complex situation, to say the least.
Establishing paternity in Texas
As we have mentioned throughout today’s blog post, paper abortions are not legal in Texas or anywhere in the United States. We are only discussing these matters on a theoretical level as a result. While European nations have dabbled in considering different bills that would make paper abortions legal to my knowledge it is not legal anywhere in the Western world to escape paternity responsibilities simply by signing a piece of paper.
With that said, it is important for you as a potential father to understand what it means to have paternity rights and duties established. For starters, if you are a married man and your wife gives birth to a child then it is presumed under the law that you are that child’s father. This is known as the paternity presumption. Of course, a woman can give birth to a child whose father is not her spouse. In that case, the law does offer you an opportunity to deny paternity. Your wife could agree with the denial in which case you would have no legal obligation to raise the child or support him or her.
If you are not married to the woman who is giving birth to your child, then there is no presumption in favor of paternity. In that case, you would need to legally acknowledge paternity. This can be done through an acknowledgment of paternity that can be completed by you and your child’s mother in filed with the state of Texas. If both of you agree on you being the father to the child then no additional steps would need to be taken as far as paternity is concerned. You could establish paternity in this way it would not need to take any additional steps.
However, if you find yourself in a position where you need to challenge paternity then you may need to do so through the courts. This would occur in a situation where you have already filed a denial of paternity, but the child’s mother refuses to do so. If you believe that you are trying to be pushed into paternity rights to a child who is not yours biologically then you need to act now. You do not have an unlimited amount of time to challenge paternity or two file a paternity case in court. Many men in your position simply hope that the problem will take care of itself or will be overlooked by a court or by a child’s mother with time. We can tell you from experience that this will not be the case.
If you are a man who is being alleged as the father of a child who is not your biological son or daughter, then you need to act quickly. The law does not allow you to engage in a paper abortion but there are legal steps to take that can position you better to protect yourself and not harm the child or their mother unnecessarily. Working with an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can be exactly what you need when it comes to protecting yourself. Thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with us today and we hope that you will do so again tomorrow as we continue to share relevant and interesting information about the world of Texas family law.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody lawsuit.