Woman calls for legal document that would enable men to 'opt' out of parenthood

A woman has sparked a debate after asking if dads should be given the option to opt-out of parenthood [Photo: Getty]
A woman has sparked a debate after asking if dads should be given the option to opt-out of parenthood [Photo: Getty]

A woman has sparked a debate online after asking whether men should be able to “opt out” of parenting following an unwanted pregnancy.

Taking to parenting site Mumsnet the woman explained that though woman can effectively opt out of motherhood by having an abortion or taking the morning after pill, men don’t have any other choice but to accept the pregnant woman’s decision.

The poster went on to ask if there should be a legal option open to men which would detail that he does not want to be part of the child’s life in anyway, won’t be able to seek access and will not pay child support to the mother.

By way of an explanation about her reasoning for the need of an opt-out document, the woman gave an example of her friend who had a baby with a man who claimed not to want any involvement while she was pregnant, but later changed his mind.

“My friend has a child who was ultimately the result of a very casual, friends with benefits type situation,” she wrote.

“The father was immediately sure that he didn't want a baby and told her from the very beginning.

“He wasn't around and didn't help out for the first couple of years, but has now decided that he wants to have access to the child and start to build a relationship now he is older.”

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The woman went on to say that the situation has caused her friend a lot of upset, and it has lead them both to question whether a legal document could have prevented the situation.

“What if there was the option for a man to ‘opt out’ of parenthood?” she posed. “It would, of course, have to be done very early on - before the baby was 1 month old, for example.

“Her idea is that this could be done by signing a legal document stating that he has no desire to be a part of the child's life in any way, will not ever be able to seek any type of access, and will not pay money,” she continued.

“This move would have to be irreversible in order to be taken seriously. (Perhaps there could be some terms and conditions like the situation can be reversed but only with the mother's permission).”

The original poster goes on to point out that she knows a lot of people will say that if a man doesn’t want a child he shouldn’t have sex or should use contraception, but she believes that this is not necessarily fair.

“I believe in total equality between the sexes and feel that this is unfair,” she wrote.

“Two people choose to have sex, two people choose whether or not to use contraception, but only one person can decide whether or not they will keep a child if an accident does happen.”

The woman suggested there would need to be some regulations to the opt-out document for example if a women can prove that a baby was discussed or planned then the man can't opt out.

She finished her post by asking what other users thought about the idea.

“I'm really curious about this. On the one hand yes, if you don't want a baby then use contraception. But on the other hand, accidents happen and I can't help but agree with my friend that men should be allowed to opt out just as women can.”

Should dads be given the option to opt-out of parenting after an unwanted pregnancy? [Photo: Getty]
Should dads be given the option to opt-out of parenting after an unwanted pregnancy? [Photo: Getty]

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And Mumsnet users were quick to step in and offer their opinions on the tricky topic.

Many disagreed that an opt-out document should exist, claiming that men who don’t want a child should use contraception properly or be more careful.

‘The fact that it is not men bearing children (and accepting the consequent physical, emotional, social and financial costs of pregnancy) is NOT a disadvantage to men. ‘If men don’t want children they can abstain from sex, use condoms or have a vasectomy. That is the point where they get to opt out.’

“But you’re not comparing the same thing,” another user pointed out. “You’re saying ‘women can choose not to continue a pregnancy, therefore men should be able to choose not to fulfil their obligations towards a child that’s already been born’.

”Not interested in arguing for the rights of deadbeat dads to be even more deadbeat, whether or not it’s dressed up as equality. Nope.”

“I don't agree with this,” another user shared. “It's far too easy already for men to walk away from their responsibilities - making it even easier is an awful idea.

“However, if it was brought in, the 'opt-out' would need to be up to the same point that it's legal to terminate the pregnancy and no later.”

But others could see the advantages of having an opt-out system in place.

“Yes, they should be able to,” one user wrote. “Too often we hear the tired old ' well he shouldn't have had sex then' but the reality is, they BOTH had sex, knowing the potential consequences. The mother has the option to get rid, he doesn't.

“If the woman really, really didn't want a baby, she would do everything to prevent it. There's enough contraception choices freely available,” the user added.

“I think I agree,” another commented. “Surely men also deserve to have a say in whether they raise a child? And surely what is best for a child is to be raised by one loving parent then to be constantly disappointed by an absent /disinterested parent?”

“I 100% agree that men should be able to opt out just as much as women should be allowed to have abortions unquestioned,” another agreed.

“The only issue is the child will be aware their father did not want to be active and some people struggle with the rejection but lots of people feel the same with adoption.

“People find it a horrifying crass decision but realistically I believe men have rights too! Women have far too much of the power when it comes to getting pregnant and continuing it to "trap" a man, so if you think about it an official opt out termination of parental responsibility and rights would prevent such women taking tactics like these. Yes most women are not like this but it is reality for a lot all the same.”

What do you think? Should men have the option to opt-out of parenthood if they find themselves faced with an unwanted pregnancy?