Unwilling Fathers and Abortion: Terminating Men’s Child Support Obligations?

Sally Sheldon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


There is broad agreement across the western industrialised world that men who father children outside of marriage share in an obligation to support their offspring financially. Against this consensus, some men’s groups have claimed that if women are accorded control over the decision to continue or to terminate a pregnancy then it is unfair to hold genetic fathers financially liable for child support. This paper assesses the merits of this claim from a feminist perspective. Having considered a number of arguments, it suggests that the currently accepted grounding of child support liability (in voluntary creation of need) provides little scope for refuting the men’s groups’ argument. The paper then moves on to argue that voluntary creation of need is, however, inadequate as a basis for child support liability, and that the current analysis offers compelling grounds for preferring a collective model of support obligations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationParents and Children
PublisherTaylor and Francis Group
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781351912808
ISBN (Print)9781315247359
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2008 Andrew Bainham.


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