Re: Personal responsibility [was Re: Genderless societies]

Technotranscendence (
Thu, 16 Sep 1999 15:12:41 -0700

I thought this recent post to the Randian-Feminism list (see might be relevant to this discussion.


Daniel Ust

> From: Gayle Dean [] <mailto:[]>
> Sent: Monday, September 13, 1999 4:21 PM
> To: randian feminism
> Subject: Re: A father's obligation.
> Daniel Ust asked about the rights and responsibilities of the father who
> not wish to have or support a child: In David Ross'es article
> "Responsibility," which appeared in the May 1998 issue of "Navigator" Ross
> lays out a cogent position on this matter.
> Ross says that the "virtue of responsibility stands so high in the
> Objectivist morality that the incantation to 'take responsibility' for
> actions has the potential to become a trap," and that "Objectivists should
> not rush to assume responsibility" without first considering if it is
proper to do so.

> He says that in our society, it is generally considered when planning for
> the possibility of pregnancy that if the woman becomes pregnant "the man's
> sperm who fertilized the egg is morally and financially responsible for
> care of the child, should the woman decide to give birth." Ross says he
> believes that assumption is wrong.

> He notes that having a "clear concise agreement prior to having sex would
> the responsible way to deal with the matter" and says that this is usually
> not the case. He says the "standard argument is that if a man engages in
> sexual intercourse then he has tacitly chosen the obligation and that
> safe abortions became routine this argument "may" have had force, but he
> not convinced."

> He argues that, " Sexual intercourse no longer brings the risk of having a
> child; it only brings the risk of having an abortion." And "in the absence
> of an explicit agreement, the only reasonable assumption for the man to
> is that the woman does not intend to bear a child as a result of their
> sexual involvement, and will look to him to share, at most, the cost of an
> abortion if she becomes pregnant."

> He continues, that considering the complexity involved in rearing a
> child-the great financial and moral burden and the extensive preparation
> long-range planning-when balanced against the simplicity of discussing the
> matter explicitly ahead of time-it "makes no sense for a woman to conclude
> that a man has assumed [responsibility] tacitly."

> Ross refers to a woman's rights when he says, "Pregnancy is a condition of
> woman's body, and the decision to continue or terminate a pregnancy is the
> woman's alone. That a man has had sexual intercourse with a woman does
> give him any jurisdiction over her body, or mitigate her autonomy with
> regard to abortion." And "this means that the child's existence is the
> decision of the woman alone."

> He notes that in 1976 the "US Supreme Court affirmed this principle, when
> ruled unconstitutional a Missouri law requiring a woman seeking an
> to get her husband's written consent." He says, that "unfortunately, that
> decision has not persuaded lower courts to draw the logical conclusion:
> a man has no responsibility for the outcome of a decision over which he
> no control."
> I agree wholeheartedly with David's position.
> Gayle Dean