GOOD FOR IRELAND
The Sunday Times - Ireland
The Sunday Times
January 22, 2006
No Room for Fathers’ Rights in Constitution
An Oireachtas committee has advised the government that there is no need to change the constitution to give fathers the same rights of custody, guardianship and access to their children that mothers enjoy.
The move has angered support groups acting on behalf of fathers who experience difficulties in getting access to their children. A decision to deny fathers the same rights to their children as mothers would be a breach of international and European treaties that Ireland has signed and ratified.
The Sunday Times has obtained a copy of the report from the all-party Oireachtas committee on the constitution, which is due to be launched by Bertie Ahern, the taoiseach, on Tuesday.
The report recommends that the definition of the family based on marriage should be maintained, reinforcing the Supreme Court’s view that the mother, not the father, continues to have sole constitutional rights to the child.
“The committee was affected by instances presented to it of how society seems to be disposed to treat the natural or birth father heartlessly,” the report states. “The committee’s decision not to extend an extended definition of the family means that the natural or birth father will not have constitutional rights as such vis-à-vis his child.”
Instead, the committee has opted to introduce a series of as yet unidentified legal procedures to allow for the “appropriate expression” of the rights of fathers under a new article on children to be placed into the constitution.
“It is appalling that fathers’ rights have not been changed,” said Mary Cleary, director of Amen, which lobbied the committee for equal constitutional rights for fathers. “Fathers, like mothers, have a God-given right to enjoy their children. In this day and age it is disgraceful that a father has to beg a mother or a judge’s permission to see his child.”
The report has been branded a “woeful fudge” by some government figures. “It is poorly drafted, badly researched and fails to adapt to modern family trends,” said a source close to the committee.
“In addition, it shows a reckless disregard for a number of international treaties that Ireland has ratified. It has even ignored the pleas of the Family Support Agency, a government body, which argued the case for a broader definition of the family and an extension of rights to families other than the marital families,” the source said.
The committee’s proposals are at odds with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that children have a right to maintain personal relations with both parents, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests. It is also in defiance of article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to respect for private and family life, supporting a broad definition of the family.
Apart from a right to education, children have no explicit rights under the constitution. A new clause will be inserted into article 41 of the constitution, granting all children — irrespective of birth, gender, race or religion — equality before the law. But this right of equality has already been granted in the Status of Children Act, 1987.
This week’s launch takes place days after police in London foiled an alleged plot by Fathers 4 Justice, a fathers’ rights group, to kidnap Leo Blair, the five-year-old son of the British prime minister.
I’m very proud of Ireland for taking a principled stand on this issue in spite of the apparent attempt by the usual gender neutralized nuts to threaten them with European Union sanctions. The proper title for this article should have been No Room for Recreational Sperm Donors Rights in Ireland’s Constitution, as calling these sperm donors fathers is already a semantic error. In spite of the attempt by a gender-neutralized feminist Mary Cleary to equate fathers and mothers on the same scale of rights, there is clearly no compatible changed envisioned by God, evolution or nature of this magnitude, nor should there be one. Fathers rights should not be 'changed' as she puts it, until either God, evolution or nature 'changes' the process by which life manifests itself through the suffering, pain and blood of women in their role as mothers. When one of the above deities sees fit to 'change' this, I'm sure they'll let us know and then fathers rights can 'change' as well.
Mothers have been given the supreme rights, responsibility, obligations, glory (whatever you wish to define it as) vis-à-vis children and this is the case for the mothers and young of every species that walks the planet, as well as our own. Minus a few odd species such as the Disney clownfish. As I often say, if it was good enough for God himself to leave his son Jesus Christ on earth to be raised by his mother, it's damn sure good enough for the rest of you.
Again, those who don’t like the situation, take it up with your deity.
Fathers in a lawful marriage get the same rights as mothers (which I concede is fair) and that has historically been the case in every society. YET can someone explain to me WHY a never-married recreational sperm donor should get those same rights as well? AND why should any man (always reluctant to marry anyway) get married if he can get the exact same legal rights to children as a married man? What public good does this serve? Rewarding casual sex, by giving men access to children they irresponsibly spawn, is not going to encourage more marriage, but less. So, why reward bad behavior?
As we can see in the societies that do reward this bad behavior, it does nothing but encourage more custody fights by men, many instigated to avoid paying child support; abductions of young children by men attempting to work loopholes in the laws to get custody for themselves; more fighting to overturn adoptions of infants by married couples, etc.,
Now many will say, well what about those irresponsible men who procreate and have children and their mothers need public benefits to support them? Who will protect the taxpayers in those instances? Don’t we have to give legal rights to never-married sperm donors to force them to repay the taxpayers through child support? I mean we can’t ask them for child support without treating them to rights just like married fathers have, can we?
Well yes, we can. As it's just a question of treating various categories of debt differently, we do it all the time. There is precedent for this. For instance, in the US when you declare bankruptcy you are not legally allowed to include money you owe the government (or the taxpayers) within it, such as IRS debt, student loans etc. There are debts, which are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy. You still owe the taxpayers their money, even if you wiped out your other debts.
Same way with child support, if it’s a debt you owe the taxpayers, thus it has nothing to do with any other legal rights. We honor this concept every time we claim that child support and visitation are totally different issues. Same principle.
To be fair, I don’t believe a single woman who has a child should be allowed to bring a man she never married into court for child support either. Marriage is what gives you these rights, nothing else. If both parties agree to this; however, that’s their business, but neither of them should be allowed to drag the other into court on these issues.
That has nothing whatsoever to do with your obligation to pay back a public benefit the taxpayers had to provide to any children you irresponsibly allowed to be born.
Again, many will claim this type of stance treats children of single parents differently from married ones and yes, I’m afraid it does. But over the long haul, it will stop many more children from being conceived out of wedlock, if that is the goal. As frankly allowing never-married men involvement with children does nothing good for children long term, as it encourages more single parenthood.
Quite simply, I believe most women getting pregnant are doing so to push a reluctant suitor into a marriage. There is some evidence for this, as I understand even our Puritan ancestors had a pregnancy rate of 40% prior to marriage. Yet, it wasn’t an issue then as it is today since the fathers of those children married their mothers. NOW, however, men don’t even bother with the marriage step any longer. Which makes sense as why should they, if the state is going to allow them legal rights without a marriage? Heck it’s almost as if the state is allowing them more rights then a married father as they are responsible for NOTHING until the child is born and their name is on the birth certificate. Whereas a married man is responsible for all the bills of his wife, including medical, prior to the birth of the child.
Ireland, deferred to the wisdom of the ancients in this matter and that’s a good thing. As marriage is the framework the ancients historically used to define a man as a father. Those men who chose to procreate outside of that framework risk having NO rights unless through a legal marriage and that’s the way it should be.