March 10, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Close on the heels of yesterday’s post comes this (Bangor Daily News, 3/9/14). Yesterday’s post dealt with an explicitly sexist bill that just passed the New Hampshire Senate. If enacted into law, it would strip every man of parental rights who fathers a child via sexual assault. Women who sexually assault, for example, underage boys, suffer no reduction or deprivation of parental rights. And of course those boys still have to pay child support for any child that results from such an assault.
As I said, the idea of depriving a man who, for example, rapes a woman, of parental rights to any child conceived by the assault has strong visceral appeal. But that’s no less true of a woman who rapes a boy, so if the bill is the right thing to do to male assailants, why wouldn’t it be just as right for female ones? Why the frank misandry of the bill? The New Hampshire Legislature is mum on that subject.
Then there’s the fact that the bill doesn’t just punish forcible rapists. It also would strip of parental rights any male psychotherapist who has consensual sex with a woman who was his patient within the previous 12 months. That’s doesn’t carry quite the moral opprobrium of forcible rape, which may explain why proponents of the bill don’t let on about it.
We live in an age of ever-expanding definitions of sexual assault. Therefore, if bills like the one in New Hampshire become law, we’ll simultaneously be living in an age of ever-diminishing fathers’ rights, as if they weren’t meager enough as it is.
Which brings me to my topic for the day. The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that a man who sabotaged a condom he used during intercourse with his girlfriend committed sexual assault by doing so. To say the least, the man’s behavior was despicable.
The Supreme Court of Canada on Friday upheld the sexual assault conviction of a Nova Scotia man for poking holes in his condoms before having consensual sex with his girlfriend in order to try to make her pregnant.
Craig Jaret Hutchinson’s girlfriend, whose name the court has protected, said she had agreed to sex as long as it was with a condom so she would not get pregnant.
The country’s top court held 7-0 that while she may have consented to sex, she had not consented to unprotected sex, and that by poking holes in the condoms first, he had committed sexual assault…
The written statement of facts presented by the prosecution said that Hutchinson had wanted to get his girlfriend pregnant at the time, in 2006, in order to keep their deteriorating relationship going.
The complainant ended up pregnant, though it was not clear from the evidence before the court that this was necessarily because of the condom tampering.
Now, such behavior by Hutchinson is beneath contempt. No one should ever lie about contraception to his/her sexual partner. Clearly, the decision to have a child should be a mutual one.
But of course it’s often anything but that. Only a few months ago I reported on a survey of women at two community colleges in Washington State. An astonishing 33% of them reported having lied to their boyfriends about using contraception for the express purpose of becoming pregnant. The study didn’t reveal how many of the women succeeded in doing so, but, as the Canadian justices made clear, the success or failure of the subterfuge isn’t the point. Guilt or innocence on a sexual assault charge understandably doesn’t depend on whether or not a pregnancy occurred. Consent is the issue. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled the woman’s consent was to protected sex, not unprotected sex.
Of course a single court case is about no one other than the parties involved, but Hutchinson’s case urges the question “Will the precedent apply equally to female defendants who lie to their sexual partners about being on the pill or using other contraceptive devices?” After all, how many men do what Hutchinson did? The Washington State study suggests that, at least among a certain age group, contraceptive fraud is shockingly common among women. I don’t doubt that Canadian women are a lot like American ones in that practice. So expect to see men complaining to police and prosecutors that they’ve been sexually assaulted when their wives/girlfriends turn up with “surprise” pregnancies.
What those police and prosecutors will do with the information remains to be seen. Will they file charges against women who say they’re on the pill but aren’t? If they do, what will courts do when those female defendants file motions to dismiss the charges on the grounds they’ve violated no law? Will they conclude that the Hutchinson case applies equally to women as well as men? Or will they find a way to differentiate between male contraceptive fraud that’s vanishingly rare, and the female kind that seems to be all too common?
If the past is prologue, I’m betting on the latter outcome. As a society, we place virtually unfettered control over the exercise men’s parental rights in the hands of women. From adoption, to parenting, to maternal gatekeeping, to paternity fraud, to child custody post-divorce, to our refusal to enforce visitation, to our acceptance at face value claims of domestic violence, child abuse and the like, to our resistance to acknowledging parental alienation of children, our society and our laws overwhelmingly privilege mothers over fathers.
Why would contraceptive fraud be any different?
Maybe it won’t be. But until we know for certain, here’s a message to Canadian men: Ask your wife/girlfriend every time prior to having sex, “Honey, you took your pill (put in your IUD, remembered to get your shot, etc.), right?” The courts may rule you to have been sexually assaulted. If they do, they’ll usher in a whole new era of relations between the sexes.
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#contraceptivefraud, #CanadianSupremeCourt, #rape, #CraigJaretHutchinson