Reproduction is a human right. And by human right, I mean women’s right.
At least some people think of reproduction in those terms–as a right–but I’m not one of them, because the phrasing I’ve used just now implies the right to spam one’s environment with very small copies of yourself. And that’s a tricky issue about resources and stewardship of another life, and at what point a clump of cells becomes a person and so on, and while these are all interesting questions, they aren’t what I want to talk about right here and right now.
Instead, I want to talk about self-determination in reproduction as a human right. As a human right that applies to both men and women.
I’m not talking about what’s recognized by scripture or government or social convention, I’m talking about what I recognize as fundamental and self-evident in any human society recognizing the principal of self-ownership:
A woman’s body, a woman’s choice.
And I’ll bet some of you have heard me mention that before. I might even give it a name, like, the lie that launched a million rants. Well, perhaps not a million – about a half-dozen, maybe. But this phrase, a woman’s body, a woman’s choice, may sound on its surface like a good solid bit of common sense, but it is woefully incomplete in explaining the common ethic surrounding human reproduction. I’m referring here to the ethic assumed by the courts, the law, and used to justify the use of violent force against those who have their own bodies in the race, but neither choice, nor rights, and often, not even a voice.
A woman’s body, a woman’s choice carries a lot of meaning, and if you’re not a woman, one of the things being said is shut up and do what you’re told. And pay up, sucker.
Allowing an individual control over their own fertility has two components. The first is technological–those technologies that afford an individual control of their own body’s reproductive capability. For women, this comes through a wide array of consumer products and technologies, including birth control pills, diaphragms, foams, subcutaneous implants, injections, creams, jellies, patches, and other technologies. This is the practical technology of control women have access to. And the second component is the legal right to control your reproduction. Women, quite rightly, own the basic human right of self-determination in reproduction under law.
Men, by contrast, enjoy no such legal rights, and when this is pointed out in an effort towards correction, that old mantra is trotted out again: A woman’s body, a woman’s choice. Men, we are told, do not reproduce, and thus, have no need for the basic human right to control their reproduction which in 2013 is assumed as simple common sense for women.
However, the claim that men do not reproduce – sometimes talked about in terms of pregnancy or child birth – is not true. Human women do not become pregnant by pollination by bees, or through parthenogenesis. A baby’s manufacture takes gamete cells from both a woman and a man.
In the discussion of technology versus legal rights in reproduction, there is a political question – why, after 50 years of a female pill, is there no male birth control pill in the western world? It exists; it has been developed and is used in China. Why don’t we have it in the West?
In fact, it has been gender ideologues who unilaterally deny men access to basic birth control technology women have enjoyed for a half-century. A male contraceptive pill has existed for at least a decade. According to Dr. Elsimar Coutinho–a Brazilian endocrinologist and a human reproduction scientist–when seeking approval for a male contraceptive pill based on natural substances extracted from cotton seeds, he was denied permission at the Budapest World Population Congress.
During his interview Coutinho explained:
In Budapest, I went to try to get the support of women. I thought, if women support it. The American feminists were all there, including Betty Freidan. It was her, I started to speak and in some ten minutes, she interrupted. She said: Dr., do you think we’ve fought our whole lives to have in our hands the decision of having children or not? Do you think we’re abdicating that? Men say they’re on the pill, women believe them? Do you know what you are, what you all deserve? To have credibility, swear you’re using pills just to get laid and leave? Leave us with the responsibility and then ‘the pill failed’ ? I was dazzled, because the women stood up screaming NO MALE PILL!!
Just as women are the mothers of the very small human beings we call children, men are the fathers. Unfortunately, whether men who become fathers do so out of genuine choice and desire, or because that choice is taken out of their hands by deception, violence, theft, or blackmail – men do not enjoy legal reproductive rights. What we do enjoy is the legal requirement to abide by the decision and choice made by a woman exercising her legal rights in matters reproductive.
We are by no means finished with this catalog of grievance – but a discussion of what is usually blurred past by gender ideologues arguing women’s reproductive rights is necessary, and that’s chromosomal contribution. When seed from a Monsanto crop blows accidentally into a farmer’s field, Monsanto sues that farmer into extinction for patent infringement.
The producers of food – who we all depend on for our very existence – are sued into extinction by a corporation (with the full support of government and the legal system) on the basis of seeds blown accidentally by the wind. That is the existing legal precedent over the unlicensed use of genetic material.
And yet, women often decide to reproduce unilaterally, sometimes by lying about their use of the pill or any of the other female technologies for self-control of fertility. There are even a number of stories in the media of theft of semen from condoms for baby making purposes, and of purposeful misattributions of fatherhood–otherwise known as cuckolding–when a prospective mother needs a more financially stable financier than whatever unemployed bad boy was coming in the side door while the soon-to-be “dad” was at work.
And a man named father by said feminine fiat has no legal choice. Ready for another objection? He made his choice to be a daddy when he chose to have sex. Or rather, legally, he made his choice to be a daddy whenever he ejaculated – voluntarily or not. I’ve heard this objection too many times to count, and to everyone who has given this claim voice without intention to refute it, shame on you.
The choice to have sex is not the choice to produce a baby for women, and nor should it be, because reproductive rights are a subset of basic human rights. That’s not even the right to spam the local environment with copies of yourself. It’s the right to not reproduce, and under current legal convention, men don’t have this right.
But it’s worse than just that. Although a man can be co-opted into fatherhood, with his own gamete cells or even with somebody else’s – it’s worse than that. Men are required by law to finance the exercised reproductive choices of women. If a man finds himself in this un-chosen obligation without the financial means to keep paying for up to 18 years, our society will cheerfully throw him in a prison cell. Debtors prisons, despite being illegal, are still used against men if they don’t pay for the baby-making they have no legal right to refuse.
But it’s even worse that this. Women, being the only humans who have reproductive rights, also enjoy the ability to eject fathers from the families they are part of, while retaining a significant fraction of the income of these men. The family courts are the instrument of this process, and those courts fund themselves by taking a fraction of the appropriated income of these men.
And if they cannot pay – our media, rather than correctly identifying them as exploited, denied basic human rights, and treated as money and labor dispensing appliances – instead calls these men “deadbeat dads”. And once we’ve labeled men as such, our media, our politicians and celebrity talking heads heap contempt and scorn on a class of humans denied a fundamental human right.
And when all this is pointed out in argument, what is the most common response from those who would deny men a legal right in reproduction?
Having and raising a child is difficult and costly, and therefore, the unwilling co-option of another human being’s income and life, well, that’s perfectly fine because a woman choosing to reproduce is undertaking a big, expensive, and life-consuming project.
That’s the argument men claiming their own human rights in reproduction encounter with regularity in this debate.
This is a system under which people are treated as property, and are forced to work. These people can be held against their will, and deprived of the right to leave, deprived of the right to choice in their lives or work, robbed of the financial compensation for their work. Historically, the social institution allowing this was recognized by many societies. In more recent times this has been outlawed in most societies, although it continues through the practices of debt bondage, indentured servitude, domestic servants kept in captivity, child soldiers, forced marriage, forced reproduction and forced reproductive financing.
And in order to continue to argue, to deny men legal self-determination in reproduction, those making the oppositional case must either defend the institution of slavery, or deny that men are human beings.
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