The blog of Dr Glenn Andrew Peoples on Theology, Philosophy, and Social Issues

Double standards about being pro-choice


Surely there is an irreconcilable double standard in many contemporary pro-abortion-rights societies when it comes to the way we judge the choices of men and women.

On the one hand, if a man and a woman make a baby and the woman decides that she would like to stop being a mother and has an abortion, we (or at least our pro-choice peers) do not say that she has taken an irresponsible or callous attitude to her child, even though she has destroyed the child at a very early age. Instead, we say that she has exercised her right to choose. (I do not say that she wishes to not become a mother. She already is a mother if she is pregnant. Having an abortion, to but it bluntly, makes her the mother of a dead child, rather than a living child.)

By contrast, if a man and a woman make a baby and then the man changes his mind, deciding that he does not want to live as a father or give up anything for a child, we regard him as selfish. A deadbeat, we might say. But has he not simple exercised a choice?

But we can go further. Suppose you grant that the above is true on the face of it, but there are long-term consequences such that the woman should have this choice but a man should not. She is exercising a right but he is just selfish and irresponsible. Those consequences, you point out, are that the woman must use her body to support the child – at least through pregnancy (after which she might be able to adopt her child out, if the father consents). Now, the morally sensible reply, I say, is to simply reject the claim that this justifies killing the child in lieu of providing for your child for nine months. But let us set that aside. The man, you might say, by contrast has no ongoing obligations for nine months.

This is true, but it seems highly selective. If we are going to look at the long-term consequences, then we should not just ask if a man has any obligations during the pregnancy. Instead we should ask whether or not the man has any future obligations at all if the woman chooses to not kill her child. In every developed nation that I know of, he certainly does. He must use his own labour to provide for the child for the first 18 years of the child’s life. Since this is a such a major obligation that can be imposed on him without the option on his part to adopt the child out, we are back where we started. There is a major inconsistency if we regard the mother to have the right to abort without any wrongdoing imputed but the father to have no right to simply be a deadbeat if he chooses.


Glenn Peoples


Religion, Hard Times and Causation


Erik Wielenberg on the Epistemological Objection to a Divine Command Theory


  1. Dan

    Besides the double standard analysis, I think the most interesting thing about this post is that it has generated zero comments in over a week.

    Why is that? It’s inflammatory and controversial, has a cartoon, and touches upon a sacrosanct secularist position that one cornerstone of women’s’ rights is the ability to have an abortion without moral or legal consequences. It is as if because women in many countries have a “right” to choose whether to kill their unborn children, the rest of society has a corresponding hohfeldian “duty” to support their moral choices.

    It is almost like Douglas Adams’ pseudo-invisibility concept: the “Somebody Else’s Problem Generator.” Glenn can make a strong argument pointing out a moral incoherence, but people just pass it by because it’s not the kind of moral incoherence that Westerners are capable of perceiving or of responding to. Dealing with moral incoherences on the subject of abortion are somebody else’s problem, best to move on and just forget about it. Alternatively, it’s like the uncomfortable silence that will happen around U.S. dinner tables on Thursday when someone suggests that Jesus was actually God, that Hillary Clinton will probably not make a good U.S. president, or that the Detroit Lions will win the [American] football game that afternoon.

  2. Ciaron

    I believe that comments were initially closed.

  3. Dan

    Oh. Well. So that’s a no, then, on my well-wrought theory of social invisibility? I’m feeling that I ought to go back to lurking now….

  4. I did notice, after about half a day, that comments were closed. I’m not sure how that happened, but it was accidental.

  5. john

    I think the reason there hasn’t been much response is there isn’t really a good response. Yes, there is a double standard. No it isn’t fair. But nobody is going to be on the side of deadbeat dads.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén