Let’s start this post by my giving you a run-down of a semi-fictional situation. A friend of a friend recently hit 38. This person being an entirely normal woman she is interested in having a child, but… isn’t currently in a stable relationship. So what can she do? IVF is prohibitively expensive of course. She doesn’t have any male friends she feels close enough to for them to both reach a ‘conception arrangement’ (I’m sure there’s some metrosexual phrase for that, if anyone can illuminate, I’d appreciate it).

So what she chose was the third option, getting up the duff to a semi-casual boyfriend.

The details of what actually transpired are sketchy, and I’m not wanting to gossip, so I’ll state some “facts”, and any commenters should stick to them.

1. We have the casual boyfriend, and the woman wanting a child.

2. The casual boyfriend isn’t informed about what’s going on, and doesn’t know that there isn’t any contraception (perhaps he was told “I’ll take care of it”).

3. Conception ensues, and the baby is carried to term despite the boyfriend stating that he isn’t interested in being a parent.

And what’s wrong with the situation? Well, I’m not so sure myself, which is why I thought I’d bring it up.

For starters I imagine that in my group this type of action could become increasingly common. A lot of women around my age have left children very late, and lot are becoming very jumpy about missing their window.

The scenario I’ve outlined does raise issues about the rights of fathers in an environment where single 30-something women are seeking children. If you’re sleeping with a woman who is pining for children, do you have an obligation to support any offspring if you were under the misapprehension that contraception was involved? A decent man will always take responsibility for his children, but if you were mislead into a conception haven’t you just been taken advantage of?

I’m of the opinion that if you have made the presumption that children are not part of a relationship (casual or otherwise) but find yourself a father, then you are justified in asking, wtf? This is especially the case because while you aren’t legally obliged to put your name on a birth certificate, you are morally obliged to do so. As I say, a decent man will take responsibility for any child he helps create, and there is a necessary and appropriate social stigma in abandoning a mother and child.

But if you’ve made the decision not to procreate and had that choice taken away from you, then you are in effect trapped under a moral obligation to be a decent man, and a father. And what flows from that moral obligation is a financial one.

Personally I find this scenario alarming, and a little outrageous. I can understand that missing out on children is a personal tragedy for many. And I can understand that social, financial and career pressures can prevent a woman from having children at the “ideal” time. Furthermore there is nothing wrong with single parents (assuming that the parent continues to support themself and the child by their own means), but two parents are most usually a better option. But none of these factors give a woman the right to use a man to conceive, and thereby entrap him in parenthood, if he choses not to enter it.

I should reiterate. This is a simplified re-telling of a real-life situation I’d like to act as a conversation-piece. So your opinions, please.