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Family Groups - Fathers - No future for fathers

No rights for future fathers

Essentially, men are being divorced from the pre-birth process

Knight Ridder Newspapers

It was right there in front of me, the grainy, dark screen, the kind only a trained technician could decipher. It held the answer to a question I had for at least four years: Would my first-born be a daughter?
"Is it a boy or girl?" I asked, pointing to the ultrasound.
"Is it a boy or girl?" I asked again.
"I can't tell you," the technician said. "You are not the patient."
My wife asked, and the technician quickly pointed to the "little boy body part" that meant I'd spend the next 18 years trying to turn that 6 pounds of flesh and blood and soul into a man.
What struck me most, though, was at that moment I wasn't considered a father or a father-to-be or anything, really.
That was my legal status, anyway. I was a poor chap meddling in the privacy of a doctor and patient.
I was married, spent a few years paying down debt, discussing child-rearing philosophies with my wife and envisioning how my kid would save the world.
In an instant, all of that was ignored, none of it mattered.
I was reminded of the story while following the recent pro-choice rally held in Washington.
I don't want to debate the merits of abortion -- though in a world of my making they would only be performed or pursued for life-saving and few other reasons.
What I find disturbing is how men are essentially being divorced from the pre-birth process in the name of rights. But how do you do that and not adversely affect the after-birth father-child relationship?
Maybe it's legally necessary. If a father- and mother-to-be disagree on an abortion or medical treatment, who gets the final say?
But while we march for laws, while we garner political support stirring people's passions about one of life's most important decisions, maybe we should pause, maybe we should think about the effect the polarization of this issue is having on vital father-child relationships.
I don't have to remind you of the too-high fatherless rate in this country. Yes, it's ultimately the man's responsibility to be a man, but shouldn't we diligently remove all barriers to such paternal unions?
I was only a bit annoyed, not forever harmed, by being told I had no right to ask about my child because I have something more important than a law on my side.
I have a wife.

Issac J. Bailey is a columnist for the Myrtle Beach Sun News. Write him at the Sun News, 914 Frontage Road E., Myrtle Beach, SC 29577-6700, or by e-mail at ibailey@thesunnews.com. (Posted on Wed, May. 19, 2004)

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