Time was, men trusted women. Women were granted the inalienable right to identify the father of their children.
In a culture that respects women it is assumed that her husband is the father of her child. Thus it is assumed that women are faithful and loyal to their husbands.
For their part women have aspired to be worthy of that trust.
While there is, obviously, never any doubt about who is a child’s mother, there is always a doubt about the identity of a child’s father.
Of course, in backward cultures women have been enslaved and oppressed for fear that they will lie about a child’s paternity. These practices say that women are not to be trusted, and should not be allowed to exercise free will.
Since the link between father and child depends on a woman’s assertion, explicit or implicit, of the identity, children have traditionally borne their fathers’ names.
Of course, modern science makes it possible to “trust, but verify.” Paternity tests can prove scientifically who the father is.
But that means that men no longer need to trust women. In many ways this is not a good thing.
Now, to add a new wrinkle to the debate a University of Richmond law professor named Shari Motro offers up a hypothetical.
FOR most of human history, a woman who became pregnant after sleeping with more than one partner had no way of definitively knowing the identity of the man with whom she had conceived. Likewise, a man whose lover became pregnant had no way of knowing for sure whether his or another man’s DNA was gestating inside her.
Motro is worried about “the relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive.”
Step back and take a deep breath here. I know that you are shocked to discover that a law professor can be quite this ignorant.
In Motro’s hypothetical unmarried women have unprotected sex with both their lovers and other men, at roughly the same time. Better yet, their lovers know about it.
These women are cheating and are indiscreet about their cheating.
How many women do you know who behave this way?
Motro is suggesting, correctly, that throughout human history there have been women who have had unprotected sex with several partners. For reasons that ought to be fairly clear such women have often been disparaged for their behavior.
Is there a word that aptly describes a woman who is in love with one man, has unprotected sex with him, and then goes out and has unprotected sex with a couple of bartenders?
I will not write the word, because I do not want to offend the delicate moral sensibility of any young woman who is capable of such actions.
Here we are in the era of free contraception for everyone, condom dispensers in every Lady’s Room, birth control pills covered by Obamacare… and we are being asked to recognize the possibility that today’s liberated woman, who has had the condom message drummed into her head from the time she was in kindergarten, can be involved in a loving relationship and can still run out and have unprotected sex with the hockey team.
In any event Motro is trying to think through implications of a scientific discovery. Apparently, you no longer even have to wait for amniocentesis; a new blood test on a woman can determine the identity of her child’s father.
Once paternity is established, Motro recommends that the man in question be forced to pay for whatever choice the woman freely makes. If she decides to abort he should provide financial support. If she decides to have the child, he will be obliged to offer support.
But, Motro asks, what if this leads men to pressure their girlfriends who have cheated on them to have abortions.
Clearly, forcing a woman to have an abortion is abusive, but what will happen if the man threatens to walk away from his cheating girlfriend.
Will a law that forces him to pay the expenses suffice to keep him around? Or will it cause him to take make the situation public by taking the case to court?
Of course, this assumes that the cheating lover knows who the other men are, and that she can get DNA samples from them, the better to make the comparison.
But, why do we necessarily assume that she knows their names?
Apparently, Motro wants to make men pay. She calls the payment “preglimony.” The word sounds ridiculous, so I find it to be an apt reflection on the quality of her thought.
But, here’s another hypothetical. Let’s say that this less-than-honorable woman has sworn to each and every one of her multiple sexual partners that she is taking the pill—provided for free by Obamacare-- and thus that she cannot possibly become pregnant.
Should the unlucky soul whose swimmer first made its way to her ovum still be obliged to pony up?
The wonders of science do not have an ideological bias. If we are going to test unmarried women to see who fathered their children, why not test all mothers?
If DNA testing establishes that a married woman has lied to her husband by claiming that a child is his when it is not, why would she not be sued for fraud?
Even if she is not sued for fraud, what if the test causes her husband to abandon her? How strong will his case be in divorce court?
Yes, I know that these questions have been subject to adjudication. I am simply pointing out that if you follow the logic of Motro’s argument, such as it is, you might be putting women in a position that they might prefer to avoid.