'Bill offering custody to unwed fathers has downside'

Article here. Excerpt:

'A bill to give equal custody rights to unwed fathers may be built on good intentions, but the potential for negative unintended consequences is unacceptably high. There are better ways to pursue the goal.

Prime sponsor Sen. Rick Murphy describes the bill, SB 1202, as an effort to address inequity.

“Absentee mothers can come back into the picture after years of absence, disrupt their children from a stable home with their father, and still have all the legal rights and be presumed by law to be the best custodian of the child,” Republican Murphy said by e-mail.

Ironically, that is a mirror image of the scenario envisioned by opponents of this bill. They say it will enable fathers to disrupt the lives of children, including those for whom they previously expressed no interest.

What’s more, advocates for victims of domestic violence say giving a man custody rights based solely on paternity could provide an abusive man with powerful legal leverage after a woman has fled a violent situation.'

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Same old, same old

Whenever the law moves to give fathers more of a role in their children's lives, the "abuse excuse" will be used to deny fathers than expanded role. For example, shared custody arrangements are opposed by women's rights group because some fathers are abusive. Oddly enough, these same groups never cite the data showing mothers abuse children more often than fathers. So as reasonable as the concern about abuse might seem, it's really just a way to keep fathers out of the picture.

In my opinion, we should automatically give custody to unmarried fathers. Right now, we automatically give custody to mothers. If that's fair, reversing the situation is also fair. Single fathers do at least as good a job as single mothers raising children. And automatically giving custody to fathers would radically change the behavior of both men and women. Women would have no motive to deceive men into fatherhood. And men would be more cautious about creating children they would have to raise.

Two-faced feminists

I love how on the one hand feminist organistations like NOW will complain endlessly about women being held back by the responsibility of being the primary carers of children, and how societal expectations place the burden of looking after children on mothers, yet on the other hand other (and sometims the same) feminists will oppose any legislation that might hand more responsibility to men, thereby relieving some of the burden on women.