Not long ago, I referred readers to a piece in Huffington Post by Robin Sax who claims to be an attorney although, if the legal reasoning she displayed in that piece was any indication, it looks doubtful. In a nutshell, she was arguing that Ohio single dad Benjamin Wyrembek’s successful challenge to the attempted adoption of his child was wrongly decided by the Ohio Supreme Court (and all lower courts). Her decidedly strange reasoning was that, since Wyrembek’s son had been taken by the adoptive parents in spite of his clearly expressed wishes, and held during the course of litigation, the boy should become theirs.
I pointed out that that concept was little more than a defense of child theft. What matter the father’s rights? What matter the child’s? Never mind the law that Wyrembek complied with in full. Never mind common decency that says that taking a child from its parent is wrong absent a showing that the parent is unfit. No, according to Sax’s reasoning, all of that must take a back seat to simple possession. According to her and to all who oppose Wyrembek, anyone who has possession of a child long enough becomes that child’s parent regardless. Their argument is a brief for kidnapping.
It also ignores several decades of constitutional law. That’s what causes me to wonder if Sax really has a law degree. If she did, you’d think she’d have not only read the Ohio court’s decision but understood it. After all, it cites a good number of U.S. Supreme Court cases that clearly and unequivocally state that fathers have rights and that states can’t infringe on those rights absent a showing of unfitness on the father’s part. The Ohio court acknowledged those pronouncements, but we search Sax’s screed in vain for any awareness of them on her part.
But in this piece, she’s actually worse (MomLogic, 10/12/10). I really didn’t think that was possible, but now I know better. I’m willing to set aside my concerns about the semi-literate prose; I’m even willing to overlook, at least provisionally, the frank falsehoods like this one:
But some states will not recognize a mother’s right to place her child up for adoption.
Really? Which ones? She doesn’t say. That’s because her assertion is completely false. All 50 states permit parents to place their children for adoption. Trust me on this.
But the real thrust of Sax’s argument is far loonier than a simple misstatement of fact, regardless of how egregious. What she’s really getting at is the idea that, because women have a right to terminate a pregnancy, they have the sole right (exclusive of the father) to adopt out a child. Sax informs her readers that,
Because of her constitutional right to choose what to do with her body, no man should be able to object to this newborn adoption.
Hmm. Where to begin? How about with the fact that, again, numerous U.S. Supreme Court decisions directly contradict the notion that fathers have no say about whether or not their children are placed for adoption. But, as I said before, Sax seems to have no awareness of Supreme Court precedent.
And that includes Roe v. Wade. Sax, like so many others of the anti-dad set, seems to believe that Roe, or some other case, confers on a woman a “constitutional right to choose what to do with her body.” It doesn’t. I would encourage Sax to actually read Roe, but I’m not confident it would have any effect.
Indeed, what Roe actually says is that a woman’s right to privacy protects against state intervention her decision to have an abortion up to the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy. It’s not that the state has no power to regulate the matter, but in general, the state’s interest begins small and grows larger as the pregnancy progresses, while the woman’s privacy right begins large and grows smaller. Before the third trimester, the woman’s right likely prevails; after the end of the sixth month, the state’s interest likely does. The idea that this means that a woman has a “constitutional right to choose what to do with her body” is simple nonsense.
More amazingly still, Sax would extend the woman’s right to exercise control over the child beyond not only the sixth month of pregnancy, but beyond birth as well.
Any interference from a unwed father can be viewed as a violation of freedom of choice, a violation of privacy rights and of Due Process.
Well, I suppose it can be. It can also be viewed as the Second Coming if you’re nutty enough and, judging from her writing, it’s altogether possible that Sax is. “A violation of freedom of choice?” Huh? There is no such legal concept. “A violation of privacy rights?” What privacy right does a mother have in depriving a child of its father or him of his ability to make his own decisions about parenting? The concept is unknown in American jurisprudence.
What we see in Sax’s two pieces is just how desperate some people are to justify taking a child from its father. It’s a tough job and, with each passing day, it gets tougher. Rationales for mothers’ exercising control over fathers’ rights have never been very convincing and they get less so the closer we look at them. And rationales for excluding fathers from the lives of their children become ever more questionable in an era that claims to value equal rights and opportunities for the sexes.
So, this is the type of nonsense we read. I suppose we can consider it a refreshing change of pace from the old, tired and factually challenged claim that fathers pose a unique threat to children. But that’s the highest praise I can give it.
As I said previously, the Ohio Supreme Court did the right thing. The concept is simple: fathers have rights to their children and those rights shouldn’t be disturbed by a state absent a showing of unfitness, or by a mother, however much she may want to control a father’s relationship with his child.