Sunday, March 19, 2006

Unequal Before the Law

When we argued on this blog about men's rights in regards to childbirth and abortion, I assumed that once a baby was born, the father had both equal rights to raise the child (custody or at least visitation) as well as equal responsibility. I didn't realize how wrong that assumption was. Granted, I think the Baron said that men don't have equal rights for custody, but I wonder if he knew the real extent of it.

According to a NY Times article, women are able to give a child up for adoption without the knowledge of the father. In several cases, fathers have found out about the adoption and filed for custody but were denied. The only legal protection men have against this is a paternity database that some states have. A father can register within 30 days of the child's birth and then has a right to custody. There are many problems with this registry though. First, since women apparently don't have to inform the father when they are pregnant or have given birth, men don't know to sign up. The only way to protect against this is for the man to sign up every time he has a new sexual partner. Even if a man knows his partner is pregnant, most don't even know about the registries because they aren't well publicized.

This is what I don't understand. For all of the rhetoric about equal rights, laws like these spit in the face of men that actually want to be responsible. If this was the point Baron Violent was trying to make, then I hope the can forgive me for being so slow to catch on. It is unconscionable to allow for a series of laws that hold men financially responsible, but don't also allow them to take custody when the mother chooses to give up the child.

The only way to fix this is to give men the option of taking custody. In that situation though, the female should have to pay child support. In one of the situations in the article, the mother gave the baby up - but when the father found out about it and sued for custody, the mother then decided she wanted it. This type of behavior is unacceptable. Since one of the problems with the registry is that men don't know when their partner is pregnant, I think there should be father notification laws (cases where the father is potentially dangerous excluded). We cannot stand by and allow unfair treatment like this to continue. With the mixed messages we are sending to men, it is no wonder they are trying to avoid child support payments.