The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Fatherhood Deficit

Posted on | January 4, 2011 | 22 Comments

“I find it far-fetched that women are having abortions because no one is willing to help them give the baby up for adoption — there are lots of people and agencies that will not only help them, but pay a substantial portion of their expenses until they deliver. They’re having abortions because pregnancy is physically uncomfortable, and there’s still a social stigma on women who carry a baby to term in order to give it away. . . .
“The means to (almost always when used correctly) prevent pregnancy is quite widely distributed through our nation’s drugstores, and adoptions are quite well facilitated through the current network of adoption agencies. Yet nonetheless, one in five pregnancies ends in an abortion.”

Megan McArdle, “Abortion, Adoption, Supply and Demand,” The Atlantic Monthly

And 40% of babies carried to term are born to unmarried women. What does this reveal? I think it reveals less about women’s preferences than men’s. Aren’t the prevalence of abortion, the popularity of contraception and the pandemic of unwed motherhood all largely the result of men’s declining interest in fatherhood?

Men are nowadays increasingly eager to avoid commitment to wives and children, to keep their options open, to evade responsibility for the welfare of others, to live only for themselves, their own pleasure, their own advantage. The word “duty” no longer has any positive meaning in a culture of selfish entitlement, a society devoted to abject and unapologetic hedonism.

The guy who pays his own bills, raises his own children and sleeps with his own wife is scorned as a chump, presumably too stupid to figure out a way to escape such an unglamorous life. As a society, we have de-stigmatized bastardy and thereby let the “baby daddies” off the hook, shifting their obligations to taxpayers — except where we can create work for lawyers who’ll sue the unwilling dads into permanent poverty to subsidize the single motherhood of their ex-girlfriends.

Where no stigma is attached, nor any punishment due, to those who do the wrong thing (for that would be judgmental, after all) neither can anyone expect praise or reward for doing the right thing. We should not be surprised, then, that people act as if they are at best agnostic toward — if not contemptuous of — old-fashioned virtue.

If men can scarcely be compelled to support their own flesh and blood, why should we expect them to volunteer to support other people’s offspring through adoption? This is just another symptom of a widespread disease, the spiritual decay of a demoralized nation.

“To live for the moment is the prevailing passion— to live for yourself, not for your predecessors or posterity. We are fast losing the sense of historical continuity, the sense of belonging to a succession of generations originating in the past and stretching into the future.”
Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (1979)

As Ed Driscoll says, “Oswald Spengler, please call your office.”


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