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Fetal Attraction Five months ago, I slept with a woman I dated for a few weeks. She said she was on the pill, so I didn't use a condom. Last week, out of the blue, she called and told me she's pregnant and is having the baby. When I asked how it could be mine, she said she lied about being on the pill because she's 36 and desperately wanted a child. I suspect she doesn't know who the father is, but hopes I'll be a good guy and "do the right thing." I'm not trying to shirk responsibility (I'm a committed father to a 4-year-old daughter I had with my ex-wife), but I caught this woman in several lies while dating her, so I can't help worrying I'm being played. What should I do?

--Parent Apparent

Surely, you've heard some of the names for a man whose only form of birth control was the word of a woman he barely knew: "Daddy," "Da-da," "My Old Man," and "The Dupe Who's Gonna Pay My Kid's Tuition To Harvard."

The mere prospect of having sex often reduces even a man of genius-level intelligence to one with all the sense of a sand flea. If only men were more frank about this tendency, they might arm themselves with wallet-sized translators like tourists use to keep from accidentally ordering fish nostril sashimi. These, however, would convert sexual fantasy phrases to reflect the likely post-sexual reality: "Hey, baby, wanna get naked and make twins?" Or, "Something tells me you're into the real phreaky stuff, like bankrolling a full set of braces and eight years of birthday clowns."

In no other arena is a swindler rewarded with a court-ordered monthly cash settlement paid to them by the person they bilked. While you don't mention being forced at gunpoint to have sex without a condom, potentially getting socked with two decades of hefty fines for being a careless idiot seems a bit like being sentenced to 100 years hard labor for stealing a muffin. The law is not on men's side. Matt Welch reported in Reason magazine (2/04) that welfare reform legislation forces some men to pay child support for kids who aren't theirs -- sometimes, kids of women they've never even met -- unless they protest, in writing, within 30 days, that they're victims of a daddy-scam.

While the law allows women to turn casual sex into cash flow sex, Penelope Leach, in her book Children First, poses an essential question: "Why is it socially reprehensible for a man to leave a baby fatherless, but courageous, even admirable, for a woman to have a baby whom she knows will be so?" A child shouldn't have to survive on peanut butter sandwiches sans peanut butter because he was conceived by two selfish, irresponsible jerks. Still, there's a lot more to being a father than forking over sperm and child support, yet the law, as written, encourages unscrupulous women to lure sex-dumbed men into checkbook daddyhood.

This isn't 1522. If a woman really doesn't want a kid, she can take advantage of modern advances in birth control like Depo-Provera or the IUD, combine them with backup methods (as recommended by her doctor), add an ovulation detection kit, plus insist that doofuses like you latex up. Since it's the woman who gets a belly full of baby, maybe a woman who has casual sex and is unprepared, emotionally, financially, and logistically, to raise a child on her own, should be prepared to avail herself of the unpleasant alternatives. It's one thing if two partners in a relationship agree to make moppets, but should a guy really get hit up for daddy fees when he's, say, one of two drunk strangers who has sex after meeting in a bar? Yes, he is biologically responsible. But, is it really "in the child's best interest" to be the product of a broken home before there's even a home to break up?

Short of Krazy Gluing your zipper shut, latex condoms are the only protection you have against both HIV and conniving women with baby lust. At this point, your best defense is a non-combative offense. Show her sympathy and concern, but get on the horn with a paternity lawyer about your options, including testing to see whether all the little DNA ladders match up. Assume you are the father until a test tube tells you otherwise. Decide whether you will be an involved father. (It's likely you will be a financially involved father, whether you like it or not.) If you plan to step in and dad, your first step should be picking up a copy of Dr. Constance Ahrons' The Good Divorce, which will provide you with invaluable advice on how to be a cooperative co-parent with a pathological liar/gene burglar.

Posted by aalkon at October 18, 2005 1:05 PM


You're assuming the state considers fairness desirable. I'd like someone to show me the difference between the current situation and one in which the state has decided that unwed mothers shall have an income (for child raising) and any available shmoe who can be dragooned into paying the tab shall be required to do so, saving the state the expense.

Posted by: opit at November 3, 2005 7:50 AM

That's exactly what the current situation is.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 3, 2005 5:19 PM

Wear a condom, for life's sake. I don't care if she was on the pill, do you want to get AIDS? Come on buddy, my sympathy is limited for someone who sleeps with someone they don't know without a condom and has the nerve to be unhappy with the outcome in this day and age.

You should be thanking God she's calling to tell you her positive test was for pregnancy, not AIDS.
What would you do if she called to say she had AIDS, when you had the knowledge and equipment to prevent it? man, wear a condom!!!

Those conservatives are so busy cracking on Welfare and you're thinking you can go around without a condom and would have some recourse if something bad happens to you. Get real!

Sorry, but there are no do-overs with AIDS. Wear a condom. The issues is not welfare, the issue is doing a simple simple thing to make sure you live.

Posted by: cosmicmojo at January 5, 2006 11:17 AM

Maybe he should try raising the kid himself, or at least pushing the issue. Just, because she dragged him into doesn't mean he can't at least save the child from being raised by a conniving person. There are no laws that say a woman is garanteed custody of the child. Fight and maybe you'll gain a blessing out of all this intstead of a hard lesson.

Posted by: megan at March 3, 2006 10:50 AM

Definately he should get a paternity test. That's his only hope, really. OTOH, yep - the laws are horribly one-sided. And, yes, the laws anyways side with the woman. Unless she's abusing the child, in prison, or something simmilar, she has custody 99% of the time if she wants it.

30-something woman who says she's on the pill but offers no proof, while convincing you to not wear anything... He should have seen it a mile away.

He's just going to have to suck up payments by the looks of it. It's an expensive lesson to learn(but infinately better than marrying someone who would pull this trick)

Posted by: Plekto at September 13, 2006 8:11 AM

what kind of pills can a guy take to give his gril a baby

Posted by: smooth at February 12, 2008 2:23 AM

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