You're Pregnant! Should you tell him?

  1. 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. :smile:

    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?
  2. Yes, I would most definitely tell the father. At the very least, he has the right to know.
  3. It takes two to make a child........So both have every right to know
  4. Wow. Did you write all of that yourself?

    I think it all depends on the situation, really. But I guess I have to answer this by putting myself in the situation.

    If I were to get pregnant by a one night stand that I had with an exboyfriend (that I still got along with), I would feel morally obligated to tell him. It would not just be my child, it would also be his child. I ultimately have say in what I can do with my body - but I do think that the father has a right to know that he may potentially have some sort of responsiblity thrust upon him. I would let the exboyfriend/one night stand know that I didn't expect them to take some sort of major roll in the parenting, but if they would like to they are more than welcome to and they are more than welcome to have a relationship with their child. If they chose not to have a relationship with their child, I would not go running after them for child support payments. I know that this may stir up some emotions in some people, but that's just the way that I think. Since I would be single in this situation, I would plan on raising the child by myself, not depending on the father for anything. If they want to be in the picture, fine. If not, fine too.

    I don't really undersatnd why somebody wouldn't tell the father...But maybe that isn't for me to understand. I'm just trying to put myself in the man's situation. I couldn't imagine not knowing if I had children somewhere on this earth and their mother didn't feel the need to tell me. Quite honestly, I think I would be hurt.

    I dunno, I love kids and I couldn't imagine anybody saying no to their own child...But. Yeah.
  5. Not crazy about men being referred to as the "fertilizer"..............

    But, anyway, yes-the man 100% has the right to know. No matter what the woman decides to do it-have it or not have it-the man has the right to know-that is his potential child also.
  6. I also feel that the father has a right to know... whether it be a result of a one-night stand or a long-term relationship.
  7. I definently think that a man has every single right in the world to know. I mean, without him the baby wouldnt be there!
  8. I think a lot of women don't want to tell the guy she's pregnant and the baby is his because they don't want the guy to automatically feel obligated. Or, they're afraid the guy will pressure them to have an abortion.
  9. ^That's a good point. I would still tell him if it were me, though.
  10. :lol: Yes, I did write it all by myself, albeit rather quickly and without revision, so I apologize and take full responsibility for the disjointedness, typos, etc.

    To answer your question, there are several reasons why a woman might not wish to inform the man. It could be that she does not really have what we might call a "relationship" with him, maybe he was a one-night stand, or some other category of casual sexual encounter.

    Or maybe she does have a relationship with him, and it's not one that she should be having, for a variety of reasons. Maybe he has a substance abuse problem, maybe he is an abuser, or just generally a "no count" bad boyfriend that all her friends, and even she, know she should kick to the curb yesterday, but because of her own issues, whatever they may be, she keeps on seeing him.

    I guess the bottom line of why she might not tell him, even if she herself does wish to be a mother, and has therefore decided to have the child, is that he is simply not someone that she would want in her child's life. A single mother has, in my opinion, the sole right to choose who will be the "real" father to her children, who will share with her the responsibilities and rewards of parenthood, and the man that she eventually chooses, we may hope, will be neither someone that she basically doesn't know, or someone who abuses subtances, is an abuser, or generally "no count!"

    There is even the possibility that if the father falls into any of those "no good" categories, telling him that he has a child could impact the child negatively. He might claim his fatherhood as reason to disrupt the lives of both child and mother, expose the child to untoward situations, or even harm the child.

    In the case of the one night stand or casual relationship, she doesn't really know this person, there is the chance, of course, that he might be this wonderful guy who will step up to the plate and share all aspects of parenting and love the child, but he also might be someone whose presence will not benefit the child, and again, might even put the child in danger, and as a mother, she has a responsibility to protect that child from strange men coming in the door and picking it up, and that would include the man who deposited the sperm!

    In fact, I would argue that once she becomes a mother, she has not only the right to choose who will be her children's father, but an obligation to choose a man who is capable, eager, and possesses all the qualities we would hope for in a good father!

    If she is not going to have the child, then there is no reason to inform the man. There will be no child, so even arguments that some might make that he would have some sort of right to know that he had one are moot.

    Your view, I think, is based on your own perspective, your own love of children, and I would bet that if you don't have them now, that you want them and would welcome them.

    However, the reality is that no matter how strong your own feelings about parenthood are, millions of men say no to their own children in one way or another every day. They did not, after all, sign up to be parents, all they did was have sex. If a pregnancy ensued, from their point of view, and also largely, in society's view, it is the woman's problem. It is she who should have thought about the consequences, the man was only doing what is natural. :smile:

    That societal context undoubtedly contributes to the prevalence of men who as you put it, say no to their children, even when they are informed of their existence, and as mentioned earlier, informing them can actually result affecting the child adversely!
  11. Well for me personally it would be my body, my choice!

    On the flip side, to even the debate.

    The "Father" made a conscious decision to become a father and fertilise eggs, what gave Him the right to withdraw that? The same right as a woman to terminate a pregnancy without the father's consent? (Steps back, puts on her tin hat and waits for incoming)
  13. I would say yes for 99.9% of the time with the exceptions being if the person were a bad influence in the child's life (bad drug problem & refusing to get help), or if the child was the result of a rape.
  14. ^ as for the story of the English lady (i have followed that over the past few years) I reckon that isn't quite the same. there isn't a child growing yet but it is a possibility. they are not together and he is with another woman now - sorry if I was the 'other' woman i would so object to that.

    as for the topic of this thread: i agree that both have the right to be involved, depending on the circumstances. if the father is a total abusive etc a..h.. and she wanted an abortion I reckon it would be ok to just go ahead.

    if she plans to bring a child into this life, the father ALWAYS has the right to know, and she has a moral obligation IMO. no matter the circumstances (referring to the other thread) - even if man and woman have done something terrible to another person, the child has needs and is not at fault. and I believe that a distant father is better than not knowing who you come from. who the actual 'father' in the societal sense will be, is another matter but the biological aspect will be important at some point.

    if the woman wants an abortion at all costs it gets more difficult because if the guy doesn't want that, we are at the core of the abortion debate. it is her body so she can do 'whatever' she wants, is the reasoning - and the circumstances Shimapuff described most likely will not lead to any man wanting a baby. I am at odds whether she should tell the man she wants to terminate, unless she feels she will need his support. that may be a 'it's up to her' situation but not because his life is 'screwed' or anything. just because it may be easier given the situation. or else, we would have to rethink the pregnancy termination situation.
  15. The man has a right to know. He should be told no matter what the outcome of the pregnancy is.