Dear Vince Byrne, Presenter of People’s Internet Radio ( http://www.peoplesinternetradio.com/ ),
I enjoyed listening to your latest Sunday podcast on prostitution, abortion and the constitution.
These are all issues I take a keen interest in. About halfway through your broadcast, you asked the public to get back to you with alternative thinking on the question of abortion. I write this letter to you to do just that.
My thinking on the abortion issue is that, globally, abortion is never going to be banned. In the Republic of Ireland, we are on the wrong side of history on this issue just like we are on the wrong side of history with regard to the Angelus, a religious institution, broadcast daily on our state broadcaster, RTE. Other jurisdictions with developed economies will not be following our example on these issues. Other states with developed economies don’t almost blanket ban abortion like we do and they don’t allow a religious celebration to chime daily on taxpayer funded television stations – the separation of church and state and all that.
With that in mind, we need to broadly look at the issue of equitable reproductive rights between men and women. We need to place abortion within the broader context of reproductive rights and, in turn, we need to place reproductive rights within the context of a strengthened marriage contract.
Throughout the western world, we now see total fertility rates that are often way below the replacement rate for developed economies (the replacement rate is the total fertility rate at which women give birth to enough babies to sustain population levels) of approximately 2.1 (the number of births per woman). In Germany, it is expected that there will be 10 million less people living there by 2050. In Japan, it is expected that there will be 17 million less people living there by 2050. In the Republic of Ireland, the fertility rate is now below 2. Against this backdrop, we can better understand the current migrant crisis in Europe as hundreds of thousands immigrants from completely different cultures (often war-zones, unstable societies or authoritarian regimes) move in to make up for the shortfall in both the population and the workforce of destination countries. Similarly, millions of illegal Mexican immigrants have moved to the United States in recent decades.
MGTOW, Men Going Their Own Way, has been growing as a movement since the 1970s in reaction to the emergence of second wave feminists and their assertions that men were not needed at all. Gloria Steinem triumphantly stated that women need men like a fish needs a bicycle. MGTOW has been a huge social phenomenon that has received little recognition in our culture. When I type the words, “MGTOW” into wikipedia, I am redirected to a wikipage on Maximum Takeoff Weight. This movement has paralleled the rise of divorce and separation. Already by the early 1970s, a majority of children in the United States were born to parents who were either divorced or separated or who would do so.
In the 5th century BC, the Greek playwright, Aristophanes, wrote the play Lysistrata, about how the women of Greece withheld sex from their men in order to force them to negotiate peace with one another. In other words, the women went on strike. However, the truth is that in the modern age in developed economies it is men, not women, who have gone on strike by abandoning marriage. This gradual abandonment of marriage has resulted in a drastic decline of the fertility rate. If this continues, populations in developed economies will decline, populations will age and more pressure will be placed on working age populations to support dependents, principally pensioners and children.
We need to examine why men have abandoned marriage and how we can encourage them back into supporting this much maligned institution. At stake is a healthy and sustainable fertility rate, of let’s say 2.4, that will ensure that nation-states can not just survive but thrive. At the heart of marriage lies the question of reproductive rights and property rights. Marriage has always been about the raising of children and the passing down of wealth and property from parents to children. In the Republic of Ireland, divorced and separated men with children feel nowadays that they are getting a raw deal with divorced men only receiving custody of their children 10% of the time. This inequity is happening throughout the western world. Similarly with regard to property and wealth, divorced or separated men feel that they are being fleeced unjustly. In the media, we learn about celebrities and tycoons, almost exclusively male, who have had to pay their ex-spouses tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars after a divorce. Men like Michael Jordan or Paul McCartney who through their talent and hard work earned their money had to give tens of millions of it away. These public humiliations leave their mark on men collectively.
These two sets of rights, the property/wealth root and the offspring/children root that supply the tree of marriage so-to-speak, need to be re-balanced by means of legislation so that men no longer feel that they will be in danger of receiving a raw deal if they enter into a marriage contract. They need a guarantee that should the marriage or cohabiting relationship (with or without children) fails, they will receive a just settlement.
In my previous blog post, I made the following suggestion.
Alimony should be ended. Surely feminists, if they truly believe in equality, would agree that a divorced woman can find her own independent source of income – “Girl Power” and all that. Child Support should be tied to the father having adequate access to his children. Research shows that provided the non-custodial parent has supervision of his child/children at least 35% of the time, the negative repercussions of single parenting for the child/children can be minimized. That, of course, is in society’s best interests. Studies have shown for decades the multitude of negative outcomes for the children of single parent homes and single parent neighborhoods. Poorer educational outcomes, lower IQ scores, teen pregnancies, increased drug addiction, juvenile delinquency, adult crime and other maladaptive behaviors are closely correlated to growing up in a single parent home. Throughout the western world, a single parent home means a single mother home 90% of the time. In summary, good citizens are the products of intact families almost without exception. Don’t blame me for that. That is what the statistics have been saying unambiguously for decades.
In relation to the aforementioned offspring/children root, I make the following suggestions.
1) A mandatory DNA test at birth so that the father knows for sure that the child that his spouse tells him is his is, in fact, his. If he learns the child is not his, he has a right to forfeit fathering the child.
2) A new Ministry for Adoption to be set up. Given that an estimated 10% to 12% of children are not biologically related to the man who believes he is the father, I can anticipate that many men, upon learning from the DNA test at birth that he is not the biological father, will forfeit fathering the child. I would perfectly understand this. Both men and women have a biological imperative to pass down their own genes, not someone else’s. Additionally, many men may feel betrayed by a woman who led him to believe that the child was biologically his. The mother who has no father to support the child will have the option of giving the child up for adoption and the new Ministry for Adoption will have a remit to place these children with psychologically stable two parent families.
3) Mandatory Joint Custody so that in the event of a separation or divorce the child will have the benefit of being raised by two parents. This right is provided for in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 9)
4) Paternal Abortion. A man is given the right to opt in or opt out of looking after a child if he is informed by the mother that he is the father of the child before the child is born. He also has the right to a time frame to make up his mind. Given that abortion is available to women up to 24 weeks gestation in most European countries and other developed economies, men should have a right to a 19 week time-frame (24 weeks minus 5 weeks – a woman on average finds out she’s pregnant at around 5 weeks gestation) to consider whether he wants to father a child. Let’s say that a woman tells him that she is 10 weeks pregnant with his child. The man then has a legal right to consider whether he wants to opt into the duties of fathering that child up to the 29th week of her pregnancy – 19 weeks after she has informed him. In the Republic of Ireland, abortion, except when the mother’s life is at risk, remains illegal. However, it is only a question of time before an amendment will be put before the people to repeal the 8th amendment. When that happens, the people will almost certainly vote to repeal it.
5) The end of secret family courts. Enforcement of all orders of family courts including orders for joint custody or visitation. Sentences imposed on those who refuse to comply.
Marriage needs to be updated for the 21st century. Its rules ought to be transparent, unambiguous and seen to be enforced so that both men and women feel that they won’t be tricked later if they choose to enter into a marriage contract. Hopefully, in time, we will see a recovery in the fertility rate to a sustainable level.