Paul L. Caron

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Motro: Men Pay Alimony, Why Not Preglimony?

New York Times op-ed:  Responsibility Begins at Conception, by Tax Prof Shari Motro (Richmond):

[N]ew technology invites us to change the way we think about the relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive. Both partners had a role in the conception; it’s only fair that they should both take responsibility for its economic consequences.

Former spouses are often required to pay alimony; former cohabiting partners may have to pay palimony; why not ask men who conceive with a woman to whom they are not married to pay “preglimony”? Alternatively, we might simply encourage preglimony through the tax code, by allowing pregnancy-support payments to be deductible (which is how alimony is treated).  [Preglimony, 63 Stan. L. Rev. 647 (2011).]

The most frequent objection I hear to this idea is that it will give men a say over abortion. A woman’s right to choose is sometimes eclipsed by an abusive partner who pressures her into terminating or continuing a pregnancy against her will, and preglimony could exacerbate this dynamic. But the existence of bullies shouldn’t dictate the rules that govern all of society. In the name of protecting the most vulnerable, it sets the bar too low for the mainstream, casting lovers as strangers and pregnancy as only a woman’s problem.

It’s also possible that preglimony could deter a different form of abuse by making men who pressure their partners into unprotected sex, on the assumption that the woman will terminate an unwanted pregnancy, financially liable for the potential result.

At the end of the day, preglimony stands to benefit men too, especially those who want to help but are turned away. How many well-intentioned men have been dismissed with “I don’t want your money” or “You’ve done enough damage; now stay away from my daughter”? Preglimony names and in that way honors the man’s role in caring for his pregnant lover. A man and a woman who conceive are intimately connected. They are not spouses, and they may not even continue to be lovers, but they are not strangers either.

(Hat Tip: Michael Livingston.)

Update:  Wall Street Journal:  Shotguns Without Weddings:  A New York Times Plan for Encouraging Illegitimate Births, by James Taranto

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As Todd points out this issue is covered in most states under current child support laws. Palimony and Alimony provide for partners who have been previously supported by their partner. If an individual has not provided previous support the law has no right to force that support. Helping to raise a child is one issue supporting the mother is a completely separate issue.

Posted by: Mat | Jul 17, 2012 11:43:25 AM

This article should make the pro-choicers wonder why it's okay for a mother to kill her child before she's born, but afterwards both she and the father have responsibility to care for the child.

Posted by: Elmer Stoup | Jul 9, 2012 9:23:32 AM

I think Prof. Motro needs to move beyond this point to think how it relates to her other previous proposals, especially the elimination of tax subsidies for married couples, and the rest of her intellectual agenda.

Posted by: michael livingston | Jul 8, 2012 9:52:52 PM

Arizona Revised Statutes Section 25-809 (judgment in paternity suits)

C. The court shall also direct the amount either parent shall pay for the actual costs of the pregnancy, childbirth and any genetic testing and other related costs subject to production of billing statements or other documentation. This documentation is prima facie evidence of amounts incurred and is admissible in evidence without the need for foundation testimony or other proof of authenticity or accuracy.

Posted by: Bob | Jul 7, 2012 6:54:08 PM

Great idea, but not until we fix the other 1 sided relationship.

If a woman has 100% absolute power over the abortion decision (choosing to abort over the father's objections, or vice versa), then why should a man have any financial responsibility for the pregnancy? That power has a price. This is no small thing. Do you comprehend the fear every man has over an accidental pregnancy (birth control can fail even if you are very responsible) and being stuck supporting a child to 18+. Women face no such concerns, they can always choose abortion (or adoption).

If you want us men to pay, then you must also share the power and choices with us. Don't like that idea? Then maintain the status quo, which still favors women.

Posted by: Todd | Jul 7, 2012 1:07:49 PM