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An aiming point for the future "Beyond C4M"
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An aiming point for the future "Beyond C4M"

This is based on an article posted on USENET as a reaction to threads on "Choice For Men". It is intended to provide the agenda for replacing C4M, which has become out-of-date.

This "aiming point" itself is being superceded (without being contradicted) by an Agenda for the 21st Century, with its proposal for Child Support for the 21st Century.


If men, women, children, and taxpayers are put into a recipe, the result may be distasteful or even indigestible to some. There are too many ways to end up with results that are emotionally or financially damaging to one or more parties.

This article attempts to describe a recipe with fewer chances for reasonable people to be damaged in such ways. It is an "aiming point" for the future. Some ingredients exist now, some will almost inevitably exist within a number of years, while some will have to be fought hard for if they are ever to exist.

This is an (evolving) outline recipe. It is not complete, unambiguous, or consistent. It is intended to suggest a possible future which people can judge by saying, "Yes, I could live like that" or "Yuck!"

Values

There are 3 main values here:

1: Rights. Both men & women have a full range of life-options which will not be denied them unless they screw-up. These include the rights to reasonable actions without adverse consequences and the rights of relationships with their children. [1]

2: Responsibilies. Both men & women are assumed to be (reasonably) adult and don't act unless they are prepared for the possible consequences. (Some means of avoiding consequences from rash actions are also provided). Given their options to avoid adverse consequences, when they DO incur adverse consequences they must be compliant. [2]

3: Respect. Where alternative proposals are available, the one favoured by adults who display respect to the other adults & children concerned is chosen. [3]

Summary of the recipe

This is intended to be a concise readable summary. There are lots of footnotes for clarification. Legalistic precision is not intended.

A: Pre-sex

Both men & women can control their own fertility using high-quality contraception. So each can veto pregnancy by choices not just immediately before sex, but well before the heat of the moment. [4]

If there are any remaining deficiencies in the contraception, financial services such as insurance can smooth the risk across all the users if the person chooses to pay for the service. [5]

B: During pregnancy

Both men & women can carry embryos/babies to term. [6]

Whoever is carrying an embryo/baby to term has sole control over whether it is aborted. [7]

C: Following birth

A child has a man & woman with rights & responsibilities for it wherever possible. [8]

By default, these are the genetic parents. Since they had the means of avoiding the pregnancy, they must be compliant in their responsibilities once the child is born. [9]

This allocation of rights & responsibilities is overridden in defined cases. There are processes for transferring the rights & responsibilities to others, as long as all parties agree or there is other due process. [10]

"Rights" include contact & care. Such rights for both parents are strongly enforced with due process. [11]

"Responsibilities" include providing support, including money. Such responsibilities for both parents are strongly enforced with due process. [12]

Child Support (see "responsibility") is based on the researched expenditure on goods & services for children. Where care is shared, the formula is symmetrical, with each parent being considered to be the resident parent part-time & the absent parent part-time. [13]

D: Special cases

Where there is an unnatural process leading to the child, the principle is to favour the person with respect for other adults & children. [14]

A person cannot become pregnant by artificial means unless there is a person who would share responsibility for the child, and that person agrees. [15]

Pre-pregnancy formal agreements are favoured as long as the child will have a man & women with rights & responsibilities for it. [16]

Winners & losers

The winners in this future will be the people who respect partners & children, and take responsibility for their actions (or don't act!)

The losers are those who are careless or play games or act selfishly. They may be men who lie or are careless, or women who want to have children despite a man's wishes. In the latter case, the man's control of his fertility will thwart the woman's aims, and there will be no child.

Since shared care is a right in this future, women will need to take into account the possibility that they will not have exclusive control of any children, and may indeed share the payment of Child Support. This should make women more considerate pre-sex & during pregnancy.

Footnotes

[1] One "right" is: "A person can have consensual sex without the risk of the emotional or financial consequences of a child resulting from that sex".

It isn't written into the constitution or laws. It is actually a desirable feature of the future (wishful thinking) rather than a right. But it is a good aiming point, for both men & women.

[2] One "responsibility" is: "A person who doesn't use the contraceptives available becomes compliant in the support of the child, if any".

An aim is to avoid children without 2 parents to support them, wherever possible. Experience says that more supporting adults is better than fewer supporting adults, and 2 is a good minimum to aim for. If contraceptives are good enough, no sympathy need be wasted over those who fail to use it.

[3] The aim is not to reward respect, or punish lack of respect. The principle is simply to use respect or lack of it as a way of choosing among alternatives.

For example, using a contraceptive to avoid paying Child Support is more respectful to the partner & potential child & taxpayers than opting-out of paying Child Support after NOT using a contraceptive.

[4] It can be assumed that contraceptives for women will continue to improve.

Contraceptives for men are likely to improve & proliferate to a massive degree over the next decade or 2. Some of them will be unobtrusive. Some, such as the use of super-glue in the vas deferentia, will enable men to be infertile until they choose to reverse it. Reversal will be pretty reliable.

The aim is to avoid children being born who were unwanted at the time of sex. The "unwanted at the time of sex" qualification is important. It is probably impossible to cater satisfactorily for men who change their minds, or CLAIM to change their minds, after sex. ("When we had sex without contraception I was willing to support a child. Now I've changed my mind and you must have an abortion or bring it up on your own". Ha!)

[5] Perhaps manufacturers of the next generation of contraceptives can be persuaded to display confidence by offering insurance against the failure of properly applied contraception.

[6] There is research in progress on this. There have even been news items about cases. These are almost certainly false. It is probably a decade or 2 away.

[7] But when it happens, the REAL male equivalent of Roe v Wade will be to allow such men to abort. The impact of pregnancy on a person is such that that person must be allowed to choice about whether to continue or abort. If this is objectionable to the partner, that issue should have been sorted out pre-sex. ("Pre-sex" is the time to sort out most issues).

[8] This is close to the existing situation. But there are anomalies that should be closed in future.

There are imperfections. Death causes a gap. So does absconding. Sometimes ending up with just one parent is a result that has to be accepted.

I don't know what to say about gay parents.

[9] There needs to be an unambiguous way of selecting the default people (parents) with rights & responsibilities. Preferably they should be the people who, had they not had sex, would have avoided the child existing. DNA testing is a useful tool.

Apart from anything else, this will focus the minds of people before they have sex! And with the sort of high quality contraceptives there will be in future, this should not be a problem for sensible people.

[10] Adoption is an obvious process of transferal of rights & responsibilities. It should involve all parties, or at least use due process if one or more of the people already with rights & responsibilities is to be overridden.

[11] This requires massive changes to existing practice, and possibly to existing law. Shared care should be considered normal. Reasonable people should be favoured over unreasonable people. Perhaps "parenting plans", with moderate plans selected in preference to extreme plans, are the tool:
Co-operative Parenting via Parenting Plans

Contact thwarters should be subjected to whatever penalties are needed to ensure compliance, certainly including prison, probably including transferring residence to the other parent.

[12] The target for Child Support compliance is 100%. There must be no opt-outs.

With high quality contraception, there must no excuse for not using it. This is out of respect to children, taxpayers, and partners.

[13] There are plenty of proposals around for improving Child Support formulae. The best proposals are symmetrical.

[14] Kass v Kass illustrated a case where the woman did not respect the man (and possibly not the child). This is a pre-sex model.

[15] Some cases such as single-parent artificial insemination & adoption are dubious, and should probably be banned. They are disrespectful to the children and send the wrong messages about the rights of children.

[16] Johnson v Calvert is an example.

Page last updated: 5 July, 2004 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003