Sunday, September 25, 2005

Is there a right to have a father?

This article makes a very good point: "If anyone has a right to anything, it is the child who has a right to be born to both parents and have a relationship with both of them. By what "right" does a woman deprive a child of his or her father?" Most reasonable people would agree with this in general, thinking of the father as a person known to the child. On the other hand this article is addressing the "right" of a lesbian to be artificially inseminated.

The other day, I was watching a TV show and a young girl was announcing to her father that she was pregnant, he, in his old fogey ways, asked who was the father. She responded that the "sperm donor" was not relevant and she planned to bring up the child on her own. It was a throw-away scene and not relevant to the rest of the story, but I felt that it reflected an attitude prevalent today which will have tragic consequences, the throw-away attitude to fatherhood we face these days. Legally speaking, the "sperm donor" is liable for child support, at the very least (she didn't go to a sperm bank). But where are his rights to be a father to the child? Where are the child's rights to know his or her father?

The article would have been better titled "Is there a right to have a father?".


sue said...

Every child should have a father-figure in their life. Having said that, not every man is suited to being a father-figure. Being a sperm donor does not qualify you automatically for father status, nor does adopting a child make you less of one. There... have I confused the issue further?

John Doe said...

Should being a "sperm donor" automatically make you liable for child support? I supppose it depends on what you mean by "sperm donor". If that's all he does and everyone knows it, then, no I don't think he should, or else you might just as well shut down the fertility clinics and close a door to happiness for many worthy couples. If he enters into a relationship with the mother, then, yes, he should. But then, in that case, he should not be described as "sperm donor" and the mother has a responsibility to do what she can to maintain his status as father no matter how badly their relationship breaks down. The same goes for a custodial father.

We could confuse the issue further and ask if bearing a child should automatically qualify a woman for mother status? There are surely circumstances where you would have to say "no".

Through personal experiences, I have developed the belief that everyone should have the right to know both parents. Even adoptees (although I would wait until adulthood in most cases). Certainly, no parent should have the right to prevent his or her children from knowing their other parent without very, very good reasons (such as adoption, clear and present danger, etc.) which should be established by objective courts not by potentially vindictive parents.

Blog Archive