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Old 14.01.2009, 15:21
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Referendum on father's rights, etc.

Now, this has nothing to do with any kind of reality and probably never will, but it's an idea for a referendum that has been rolling around in my mind for a while. Here goes (in my poor attempt at a legal text):

1. In the case of pregnancy in an unmarried couple, the woman is required to inform the father during the first trimester of pregnancy if she decides to keep the child.

2. At this time, the father must sign an agreement recognizing his future rights and obligations to the child. If he chooses to opt out of being the child's legal father, he foregoes any eventual financial obligations towards the child, but also loses any official rights of parenthood.


Obviously, this is far from complete and could be developed more, but you get the idea. I talked to some friends of mine in law and all of them said that there is nothing about a law like this that couldn't be applied to reality, but that it would never pass and is too progressive even for Switzerland.

I am not so sure. I am not trying to in any way diminish the psychological or physical burden that women carry during pregnancy, but in my opinion the system, as it is in most Western countries, is severely biased against men in situations like this. Yes, it is the woman's decision to keep the child or not, but in the rare cases in which a man absolutely doesn't want to become the father and the woman wants to absolutely keep the baby, a man should be able to opt out of paying child support, etc. if he is able to take responsibility for his actions early enough.

My friends have said that this will be seen as a sexist law that considers all women to be golddiggers, but I don't think that's the case at all. Yes, more cases of women having children behind a man's back will be avoided, but men who are really serious about "absolutely not wanting kids" will have to put up or shut up. You don't want to pay child support? OK, sign this agreement, but then you also renounce to any rights you have as a father. No whining months or years later that it's "your child". It could have been, and you blew it.

It's a difficult choice for a man to be faced with, and by many the second alternative will be considered the coward's way out, but it's better than having no choice whatsoever, which is the case now.

Dunno what you guys think of this.
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Old 14.01.2009, 15:39
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

1. and if she never knew she was pregnant?

2. could an under aged boy legally sign such a document?

http://www.20min.ch/news/kreuz_und_quer/story/31968489
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Old 14.01.2009, 15:40
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

What you're discussing is Wikipedia reference-linkmale abortion and is a long way off, although will probably in some form come about in time.

Looking at what you're written, you need to take into account the principle of choice; that is both parties have chosen to have sex and thus are equally responsible for the consequences of pregnancy. However, this responsibility ends where one decides on becoming a parent (i.e. raising the child).

In short, while what you suggest may give a choice to men, as women have already, it should not allow men to get off scot free either. After all, even if a woman chooses not to become a parent, she still needs to go through an abortion or adoption, which is not an easy thing.

I suspect that such legislation will probably eventually appear in Scandinavian countries long before it does in Switzerland. Switzerland is very conservative where it comes to family values, as divorced men here have discovered, and I suspect child support here is also putative towards the father - is this the case?
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Old 14.01.2009, 15:48
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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1. and if she never knew she was pregnant?

2. could an under aged boy legally sign such a document?

http://www.20min.ch/news/kreuz_und_quer/story/31968489
I've thought about both of these and they're very good questions, which is why I specified that it's "far from complete" and just a vague idea. I'd imagine in the case of #2 the law obviously wouldn't apply since a minor can't sign such a contract. For #1, that's a tough one.

At the moment I'm mostly concerned with the main framework of the idea and if it could possibly get any popular support if subtleties like this are sorted out. I'm mainly looking for arguments why it absolutely couldn't work and isn't a reasonable law. Whenever I talked about to this to my female friends, their responses were quite level-headed but also vague. "I feel and know there's something wrong with this, but I can't really explain why."
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Old 14.01.2009, 15:54
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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What you're discussing is Wikipedia reference-linkmale abortion
Whoa, didn't know about this, thanks!
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In short, while what you suggest may give a choice to men, as women have already, it should not allow men to get off scot free either. After all, even if a woman chooses not to become a parent, she still needs to go through an abortion or adoption, which is not an easy thing.
Good point. Perhaps the man's financial burden could be limited and not completely erased.
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Switzerland is very conservative where it comes to family values, as divorced men here have discovered, and I suspect child support here is also putative towards the father - is this the case?
Judging from what I've seen with all the divorced men I know, this certainly seems to be the case. But it's also not completely unfair like in Canada for example, where there are cases this one.
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Old 14.01.2009, 16:23
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

The nice thing about the Swiss referendum process is.. 'why not ?'.. whatever the idea.. if you get enough signatures, you get to put it to the vote.

(Unless there's some form of 'sanity check' by the government that stops a referendum even though it gets enough signatures)

I support your idea. I think men get a poor deal in lots of these areas.. mostly because the state doesn't want the expense of dealing with complex issues and often defaults to a very old fashioned position of ... 'it's a difficult issue, the woman is usually the more caring one...let her decide'.
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Old 14.01.2009, 16:31
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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The nice thing about the Swiss referendum process is.. 'why not ?'.. whatever the idea.. if you get enough signatures, you get to put it to the vote.
Yeah, if there's any place it could have a chance, it's here. In countries like England and the US, which are more party-based and where it's the representatives themselves that have to propose laws like this, no one would do it because it's political suicide for the person in question. For a politician, there's too much to lose and nothing to gain with a law like this. What lobby, for example, would possibly get behind such a proposal.
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Old 14.01.2009, 16:36
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

Agree 100%. That's equality.
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Old 14.01.2009, 16:37
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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if he is able to take responsibility for his actions early enough.
How about both partners using contraception, that would be taking early responsibility.
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Old 14.01.2009, 16:38
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

What if the woman, based on religious beliefs, will not undergo abortion but knows that she cannot take care of the child financially ? What if the woman wants to abort but the man, based on religious beliefs, does not ? Can it then be possible that the man forces the woman to carry the child to term after which she severs all ties and the man becomes fully responsible for the baby ?
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Old 14.01.2009, 16:57
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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What if the woman, based on religious beliefs, will not undergo abortion but knows that she cannot take care of the child financially ?
People make bigger sacrifices for their beliefs every day. If Jehova's Witnesses are allowed to refuse blood transfusions (sometimes leading to their deaths) because of their religious beliefs, then a woman can be left to deal with the financial burden if she feels strongly enough against abortion that it's more important to her than her financial well-being later on. Which opens up a whole can of worms about abortion for practical reasons, and let's not get into that debate. Abortion is legal during the first trimester in Switzerland. That's a fact. Let's not lose sight of the issue here.
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What if the woman wants to abort but the man, based on religious beliefs, does not ?
Not his choice to make and the law acknowledges that.
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Can it then be possible that the man forces the woman to carry the child to term after which she severs all ties and the man becomes fully responsible for the baby ?
Are you trying to be facetious? We're dealing with hypotheticals that are more or less based on reality, not some kind of fantasy world where men can control women's uteri at will.
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Old 14.01.2009, 17:02
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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How about both partners using contraception, that would be taking early responsibility.
Absolutely, however contraception is not 100% certain to work. Of course you could then argue that if a man does not want to run that risk he should keep it in his pants, which is fine as long as you put the same conditions on women.

Abstinence is technically the only certain method - this was of course the advice given to young ladies a few decades ago so that they wouldn't get into 'trouble'.
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What if the woman, based on religious beliefs, will not undergo abortion but knows that she cannot take care of the child financially ? What if the woman wants to abort but the man, based on religious beliefs, does not ? Can it then be possible that the man forces the woman to carry the child to term after which she severs all ties and the man becomes fully responsible for the baby ?
Either either party can impose their morality on the other or neither can is the equitable solution.

Of course, one could argue that being forced to pay, often crippling, child support for twenty years is not the same as the psychological stress of going through nine months of pregnancy; as we all know, financial pressure has never driven any man to suicide...
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Old 14.01.2009, 17:06
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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We're dealing with hypotheticals that are more or less based on reality, not some kind of fantasy world where men can control women's uteri at will.
It's a fair point to make, as laws are typically built upon moral principles - if those moral principles are flawed then the law itself is put into question.
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Old 14.01.2009, 17:18
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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Absolutely, however contraception is not 100% certain to work. Of course you could then argue that if a man does not want to run that risk he should keep it in his pants, which is fine as long as you put the same conditions on women.
Although contraception is not a 100% certainty, you would have to be really really unlucky if it failed with both parties using protection.
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Old 14.01.2009, 17:32
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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Although contraception is not a 100% certainty, you would have to be really really unlucky if it failed with both parties using protection.
It happens all the time.

Nonetheless, using contraception (or abstinence) is a moot point, because the question being discussed is what are the rights when an unplanned pregnancy does occur. As things stand women have a right to choose unilaterally either abortion and adoption (the latter I find bizarre that a man need not even be consulted in many countries on this).

Men have no legal get-out clause and at best, if they do not want to be fathers, can run and hide or do what they can to minimize the cost that will be imposed - which by the child's adulthood will run into several hundred thousand francs, in most countries; I believe the US imposes insane levels of child support.
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Old 14.01.2009, 17:54
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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It happens all the time.

Nonetheless, using contraception (or abstinence) is a moot point, because the question being discussed is what are the rights when an unplanned pregnancy does occur. As things stand women have a right to choose unilaterally either abortion and adoption (the latter I find bizarre that a man need not even be consulted in many countries on this).
In what countries is this the case?
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Old 14.01.2009, 18:08
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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what are the rights when an unplanned pregnancy does occur. As things stand women have a right to choose unilaterally either abortion and adoption (the latter I find bizarre that a man need not even be consulted in many countries on this).

Men have no legal get-out clause and at best, if they do not want to be fathers, can run and hide or do what they can to minimize the cost that will be imposed - which by the child's adulthood will run into several hundred thousand francs, in most countries; I believe the US imposes insane levels of child support.
I agree with you on the adoption issue. However, if an unplanned pregnancy does occur, then why should men have a get-out clause? What about the child's right to have a father?

Is it only about money?
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Old 14.01.2009, 18:13
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In what countries is this the case?
Ireland, for one; only a "reasonable attempt" to consult the father is required - there is no legal obligation that he actually is. Please note that consultation does not confer any rights to the father - it merely means he is informed.
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Old 14.01.2009, 18:16
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Ireland, for one; only a "reasonable attempt" to consult the father is required - there is no legal obligation that he actually is. Please note that consultation does not confer any rights to the father - it merely means he is informed.
Wow.

"We're taking your kid away. Just thought you'd know. kthxbye."
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Old 14.01.2009, 18:26
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Re: Referendum on father's rights, etc.

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However, if an unplanned pregnancy does occur, then why should men have a get-out clause?
Why should women have a get-out clause then?
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What about the child's right to have a father?
No one has a 'right' to a father - that would involve even beyond financial support and legally compelling men to be involved with children they don't want, which is insane.
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Is it only about money?
One can argue that it is also about a man's reproductive rights (this is one of the arguments used for abortion). Additionally there are numerous social implications to being a single father. It's a life-changing decision to keep a child, which for men is often taken by someone else.

But even if it were only about the money, you can hardly dismiss such a reason. My understanding is that in much of the EU, child support works out at around 15% of the father's income. In the US it is higher still. This is a serious financial burden for anyone to have imposed upon them because of another's unilateral choice and has ramifications upon their future relationships and families, the ability to own their own home, afford a pension, not to mention inheritance rights.
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