An anti-abortion demonstrator in San Diego in January. Photo by Chris Stone

Everyone, especially women, know how burdensome a pregnancy is. It’s especially true now if you live in Texas, where a fetal heartbeat detected at six weeks means by law you cannot terminate the pregnancy; you must carry it to term.

This burden to have a wanted or an unwanted child is heavy. So, too, is raising that child through childhood and adolescence, the next eighteen years. Would anyone argue that such a load, especially on poor women, is not a fact?

But there’s another side to the coin. Men, in particular, the father of a fetus which cannot be aborted, should play an equal role in the woman’s or mother’s pregnancy and birth. Of course, many men do, and that’s commendable. But it’s also indisputable that many men don’t. Moreover, it’s just as indisputable that a man impregnates a woman. So, I assume we’d all agree, he has a responsibility to the woman and the fetus or, if you like, the child, both unborn and born.

I propose that we add another law to the Texas law or the Supreme Court’s all-but-certain decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, even if they throw it back to the states. The new law should state that a father of every child born, in or out of the womb, must be identified by the mother with a DNA test. That’s first.

Second, the father—by court order—must have his wages garnished to pay for child-raising over the next eighteen years. And let’s give the expense a conservative estimate, say, $2,000 a month. Which, tied to inflation, comes to more than half a million dollars. Isn’t that a fair sum to make sure the child, which the state has said, must be born, eats and has shelter and schooling for his or her young life, a life the man had a fifty-fifty part in creating?

If the state is going to force the mother to carry the child full-term and presumably make the birth and the life her responsibility, why shouldn’t the father of the child, in the womb and after birth, be held responsible, too? Who would dispute that?

There is great upside to this law of fatherly accountability. First, even if the woman puts the child up for adoption, the father still has to pay the new parents. That will encourage adoptions if financial help is guaranteed. This will also act as a deterrent to a woman just willy-nilly “getting pregnant” for the money or to punish a man.

Of course, she, too, must contribute—as most women do. I doubt there are many women in our culture who want to have baby after baby to finance their lives. Sure, maybe a few. But even if it’s true the births will add more Americans to the population, which is slipping due to lowering longevity (likely caused by the American diet) and to COVID deaths.

Just think of the possibilities of men’s earnings being garnished—for men! They’ll be careful sexually. They’ll wear protection. They’ll converse with the woman about her fertility prior to sex. There’ll be greater consent and (we can only hope) less male aggressiveness, given the consequences (enforced, of course).

The man can weasel out of marriage or shared child-raising; but he will be required to pay for the child. Call it a bounty on the man’s earning power—half a million per child!

Perhaps the best outcome of all: Men in those Republican-led state legislatures who want to forbid women their reproductive rights, maybe, just maybe, they’ll say, if the man is held financially responsible for every fetus, viable at six weeks, then maybe one way to avoid that burden is for men not to curb a woman’s right to determine what will happen to a fetus the state is forcing her to carry.

Maybe the men will say—because the new law states that sperm and egg is a constitutional two-way street—“You know what: Maybe I should keep my hands off a woman when she’s ovulating unless we’ve made a plan and keep my hands off of a woman’s health decisions, legislatively, over her body. Maybe I should keep my big mouth shut because it’ll cost me.”

Seriously, we have to redefine a woman’s right to choose as also a man’s responsibility for participating in what she is or is not choosing or what the state, in a world without Roe, is forcing her to “choose.” No more, no less.

Thomas Larson is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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