Originally created 08/12/02

Responsibility vs. rights

Reproductive rights are in the news again - and not just in an Ellen Goodman column. And, as is usually the case with this issue, nobody wins.

The courts in Pennsylvania had temporarily blocked Tanya Meyers from having an abortion after her ex-boyfriend objected and sought to have the pregnancy go to term.

Ultimately, that temporary ban was lifted and Meyers won the right to an abortion, although she ended up having a miscarriage anyway.

Still, the order temporarily preventing the abortion sent the abortion rights crowd into a frenzy. And the final outcome - in which the father, John Stachokus, was ajudged to have no say in the pregnancy despite his apparent presence at the conception - will no doubt embolden those fighting for men's reproductive rights.

At this particular point in gender history, it must be said that men appear to have no particular reproductive rights at all.

Of course, pressing those rights can be dicey at times, and can stomp on the rights of the one actually carrying the child. It is utter nonsense, and completely reprehensible, for instance, for state officials in Florida to require some mothers to place classified ads looking for the unknown fathers before placing their children up for adoption.

In contrast, male reproductive responsibilities can sometimes be taken to the extreme: A 12-year-old Kansas boy was once ordered to pay child support to the 16-year-old baby sitter who preyed on him.

But aside from such excursions to the extreme, it is precisely reproductive responsibilities that should be emphasized in our public discourse, rather than this constant, whiny drumbeat of reproductive rights.

To wit:

We too often shirk our responsibility not to conceive children outside the protective cocoon of a loving family.

Too many fathers and mothers walk away from their responsibility as parents, not just to provide financial support but love and guidance as well.

Too many people, particularly young people, eschew their responsibility to themselves and each other when it comes to sex. News flash: The sexual revolution is over; both sides lost. It's time to start picking up the pieces.

In other words, perhaps it's time for a Responsibility Revolution.

As long as we're running around acting irresponsibly, then running to the courts to insist on our various conflicting rights, we'll all continue to lose.

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