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When+Oral+Sex+Results+in+a+Pregnancy - When Oral Sex...

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When Oral Sex Results in a Pregnancy: Can Men Ever Escape Paternity Obligations? By SHERRY F. COLB Wednesday, Mar. 09, 2005 In a lawsuit against his ex-girlfriend, Richard O. Phillips has alleged that about six years ago, he engaged in oral sex with her. Unbeknownst to Phillips, he says, his girlfriend, Sharon Irons, allegedly saved the resulting semen and used it to inseminate herself. A pregnancy resulted, Irons gave birth to a baby, and DNA tests proved Phillips to be the genetic father. Though Phillips allegedly did not learn of either the pregnancy or the birth until some time later, a court nonetheless ordered him to pay approximately $800 a month in child support. Irons disputes Phillips's claims and asserts that she conceived her child in the ordinary way. For purposes of this column only, however, I will assume the truth of Philips's allegations. Phillips's suit originally contained allegations of theft, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. An Illinois Appellate Court, however, dismissed the theft and fraud claims a few weeks ago, allowing only the emotional distress action to go forward. The facts of this case raise significant questions about the contours of a man's right -- if any -- to avoid paternity. A Woman's Right to Control Paternity When a woman becomes pregnant, the man who impregnated her has few legal rights with respect to that pregnancy. He cannot, for example, require the woman to remain pregnant if she chooses to have an abortion. Conversely, he cannot force her to have an abortion if she wants to remain pregnant and give birth. Whether it is the right to become a parent or to avoid becoming a parent, then, the pregnant woman's choice trumps that of the father of the pregnancy. Furthermore, if the woman chooses to go to term with the pregnancy, the father is legally liable for child support. All of this may seem quite unfair. If a man has no control over paternity, then why should he have to pay for the resulting child? Don't responsibilities ordinarily come with rights, and vice versa? One reason for the inequity between women and men surrounding pregnancy is the disparate physical circumstances in which a pregnant woman and the man who impregnated her, respectively, find themselves. To grant a man a legal say in whether or not a woman stays pregnant and bears his and her child is effectively to give him dominion over his partner. As the crucial three-Justice plurality opinion stated in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey , the case in which the Supreme Court declined to overrule Roe v. Wade
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and accordingly struck down the husband-notification provision of a Pennsylvania statute, "it is an inescapable biological fact that state regulation with respect to the child a woman is carrying will have a far greater impact on the mother's liberty than on the father's. The effect of state regulation on a woman's protected liberty is doubly deserving of scrutiny in such a case, as the
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