this week in ideas: the debate van is not a patent office

We all know how I feel about abortion and about a gal's right to choose. I realize of course that there are some philosophical inconsistencies when it comes to the question of abortion, and that most of us on the side of civil rights and feminism have atendency to gloss over the gnarlier issues and to just assert in a loud voice IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO until anti-choicers feel bad about themselves and go cry in the corner that nobody understands me like You do, Jesus, why can't you be my date to the Spring Fling since none of the boys really see my inner beauty that my momma says I have like You do.

But having been a debater in college, and thus being an argumentative and aggressive type when it comes to telling people what to do about things, I have at various points along the way tried to come up with ways to reconcile my bone-deep belief that Abortion Is Not Evil with my concerns over the unresolved role of the conceiving father in all this, or "but where do we draw the line?!" For drawing that line I will say See: Peter Singer and then amend it a bit to basically say that let's give something the right to life if it is either sentient or viable and leave it at that. But the question of daddy rights... this is, as the trailer says, a little bit of a pickle, Dick.

It seems like most problems can be solved - at least on paper - if we treat people like robots and assume optimal rationality in their behavior. So here's what those of us in the van on the way home from the Princeton tournament came up with that fateful night: Before a guy and a girl have sex, they sign a contract. In this contract the guy agrees that if he is unwilling to financially support prenatal care and the subsequent child to such a degree that the mother could live an otherwise totally normal and struggle-free life, then he gives up his right to have a say in whether or not she aborts any conceived zygote. Thus the time commitment of motherhood inherent in being female is somewhat offset by the dude’s monetary commitment. We also added in some provision that tied the compensation to minimum wage, but a) I don’t really remember that part and b) it was probably retarded.

So then Dalton Conley, a New York Times editorialist who was apparently named after a C-list law firm, goes and steals my idea, asshole. But the thing is I am sort of okay with that, because he has been getting lots of shit for it and also it turns out the idea was really really horrible. So, I give up any claim I might have had to the Sex Contract. You go, Dalton Conley. Run with it, baby. Run all the way to the bank.

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