During my extensive dating history I have been involved in two "pregnancy scares". In one situation I was the "responsible one", always wearing a condom. In the other she was primarily responsible for birth control (although during the early stages of any relationship I always insist on wearing a condom until all of the appropriate medical tests have been done and I know that I can trust her to use birth control reliably). But the facts are that no method of birth control is 100% reliable.

Both incidents had me very nervous. Although I know that I want to be a father in the future there are still many things I want to get done before children enter my life-picture. At the times I think I was almost as scared of the prospect as she was. Both incidents took place during the course of long-term relationships, and under those circumstances I feel that I would want to take some part in the life of any child I fathered. Fortunately, both times things turned up negative and my life went on.

These incidents however did raise in me the issue of "father's rights" an area of legislation that is severely lacking in the United States. Now, I've been pro-choice all of my life, and in both of those particular incidents I would have fully supported the decision of either woman if she chose to have an abortion. However, I would have expected them to discuss it with me. By law an unmarried woman (I have no idea what the laws are regarding married couples) can have an abortion without the father of the potential child being consulted. Somehow, on a gut level, this bothers me*.

Keep in mind, both of these incidents occurred during the course of long-term relationships. If it had been a one night stand, or some other such "fling" I don't believe I'd have any business in getting involved in the mother's choice whether or not to keep the child, I'd never intended to stick around in the first place (and she never expected me to), and the decision is completely hers. However if she were to keep the child I'd have no problem fulfilling my legal obligation as a father and, if permitted, becoming an active part of the child's life. If she chose to have the child, then give it up for adoption I'd expect to have first crack at adopting the child. If she chose to abort, then that was her decision, under those circumstances I wouldn't even expect to be contacted.

Long term relationships do change things for me. I think it's a trust and commitment issue that she would discuss it with me. Chances are (99% I'd say) that I'd support whatever decision she made, based almost solely on the fact that she took the time to discuss with me what was going on.

* Yes, I know I'm a man and that I wouldn't have to undergo the whole pain and strain of childbirth, I know it's probably not exactly "PC" for me to insist that a woman have a child, just because it's mine. That's not what this is about. It's about trust and understanding. Please read the rest of the node.