What obligations does a woman who becomes pregnant have to the biological father of her child? Note that I am not talking about women who are in a loving, committed relationship, whether legally or religiously sanctioned or not. No, I am talking about something that happens every day. Maybe it's the result of a bad choice, maybe it's the result of a faulty contraceptive device, or one of those little percentages of failure found in the fine print of the folded up paper that comes with the pills. For the purposes of this discussion, WHY it happened doesn't matter. What matters is the nature of the relationship between the woman and the man who "gets her pregnant." Whether it's a one-night stand, or one of those awful sturm und drang, co-dependent, doomed to failure situations that we have all either been in or watched painfully as someone we know suffers through it, or whether it's a relationship that is frankly abusive, emotionally, physically, or both, and in that case, it especially does not matter whether the couple are legally bound or not - in my controversial opinion, anyway. However it happened, what does the woman owe to he who deposited the sperm? Does she have any sort of moral obligation to even tell him about it? What if she does not wish to become a mother, for whatever reason, and intends to terminate the pregnancy? Does that make a difference? Or what if she does wish to raise a child, but has no desire to continue her relationship with its biological father? Does that make a difference? Obviously, in the case of an unplanned pregnancy that the woman decides is in fact a human being for whom she will be responsible, the question of family medical history arises, even if we opine that no others do, and how should that be handled? My own opinion is based on the biological and social reality bottom line that it is the woman's body, to begin with, that will be impacted, and whether we like it or not, it is she who will in all probability be left holding the diaper bag, to one degree or another, alone. As a friend puts it, referring to having children even within the context of a loving marriage, "your best bet is that he dies faithful to you and leaves lots of insurance." (Although statistics are changing, women do tend to live longer, and life insurance is neither taxable nor a matter of public record, making it the most secure way that a man can provide for his family in the event of his death.) In the movie "Grease" the character Rizzo sings a song that poignantly illustrates the social attitude prevalent only a few decades ago, namely that if a girl becomes pregnant, it is her duty not to tell the boy. The reasoning is, her life is over, why should she spoil his? Biologically, of course, a man can impregnate a woman with no consequences whatsoever, and social attitudes, in the US at least, have strongly tended to follow this biological fact. The "don't ruin his life" social more that Rizzo's song depicts is not about a decision being hers alone to make, but a reflection of the belief that pregnancy is the woman's "fault." It is she who should not have engaged in sexual intimacy, she who should have taken precautions, been careful, been a "good girl," this latter reflective of the ancient notion of women as property. Cultural change is the slowest kind of all, and as it inches forward, there has been some progress on the part of society pulling back a bit from the good girl thing, and some slowly growing recognition that a woman's body is her own property, not her parents, the state's, or her sexual partner's, whether he be a spouse or a one-night stand, though the double standard is still very much with us, and with those changes have come some argument from the sperm gallery that they, as biological fathers have the "right to know," with some even contending that they should also have the right to decide whether the woman terminates the pregnancy or has the child. These arguments are very eloquently made, and might have, in my opinion, some merit, if it were not for the fact that the sperm donor can still effectively walk away, either immediately or at any time during the child's life. Of course the mother also has the option, at any time, of "giving up" her children, (the father is not seen as giving anything up), and the social pressures to keep and raise the child, once it is born, are so great that all around us we see millions of single mothers who are neither economically nor emotionally able to be parents. Biological fathers may be ordered by the courts to pay some "child support," but the amount is seldom sufficient to actually cover the skyrocketing costs of childrearing, and if at any time the father wishes to cease even those token payments, forcing him through legal means to do so is a process so cumbersome and so non-compatible with the reality of a single mother with scant resources, that it exists more as a theoretical than a practical solution, and even those single mothers a step or two up on the economic ladder have so little success with the process that private companies have sprung up and found a lucrative market for the service of going through all the red tape, obtaining the money, and of course, taking a large chunk of it as payment, so that obliging a man to pay child support can become more of a "statement" than something that actually results in a tangible benefit to the child. Despite media campaigns to the contrary, avoiding child support is still so socially acceptable that there are organizations, complete with websites, that help men find workarounds to the problem of being judicially obliged to pay it. And of course no law can force a man to actually be a father, be part of the child's life. We may no longer consider that the life of a girl who gets pregnant is over or ruined, but it is still irrevocably changed. Men have a lot of choices: walk away, send a check, provide any level of emotional support to the child, but a woman only has two: have an abortion, or have a baby. Whatever she decides, and there are several very strong forces that push her toward having the baby whether she wants or is really able to be a parent or not, her life, her body, will be impacted. Any woman who has ever had an abortion will tell you it is not pleasant, and depending on her own attitudes, opinions and beliefs, she is likely to have some long-term emotional sequelae, which may range from guilt to resentment to some of both, in any event, she will never be quite the same. And of course, if she decides to have the child, the consequences of that decision are even more far-reaching, permanent, and as I touched on briefly just one aspect, very likely economically daunting. It is for all those reasons that my own answer to the question: "Should she tell him?" is, "it's up to her." Women do not, in my opinion, have any obligation to inform anyone except their doctor that they are pregnant, or that they have terminated a pregnancy. If she decides to have the baby, and the biological father is not someone with whom she wishes to share the fact, or the baby, if he is not the man that she would choose to be the father of her children in the true sense, she has no moral obligation, in my view, to tell him anything. She does have an obligation to the child to know his family medical history, and I would therefore justify whatever means she might need to employ to obtain this information without informing the man of his role as sperm donor. Those who have been following another discussion involving a woman who became pregnant as a result of an affair with a married man, and did tell him, may be surprised at my opinion, because I have talked so much in that thread about the obligations of a father. And yes, I do believe that if he is informed, a man does have a host of moral obligations immediately thrust upon him, as does the woman who has decided to become a mother. However, reality brings us into the question of maybe versus certain. Maybe the man will fulfill all those obligations, but it is certain that the child will have all those needs, which places, in my opinion, the question of whether to tell him solely in the woman's court. As is the case with the question of whether to have the child or not, it is her body, her emotions, her reality, and therefore her call. What do you think? Does the bare fact of fertilization carry with it an obligation to share that information with the sperm donor? And does being informed that he has fertilized an egg confer any rights upon the fertilizer? Should he have a voice in the decision of whether to have the child or terminate the pregnancy?