On June 19th, one Mumsnet user sparked debate when she asked how people would feel about giving fathers a way to "opt-out" of parenthood. User jemimapuddleduckpancake brought up the question in the internet forum after her own experience watching a friend deal with a sticky situation. After having a baby with a man this friend was not attached to, the woman raised the baby alone for a couple of years with no help or aid whatsoever from the man. Then he decided suddenly that he wanted to step in and form a relationship with the child. This put her friend in a confusing and stressful situation.
The Mumsnet user suggested that there should be a way for uninvolved men to "opt-out" of their role in children's lives to prevent them from coming in later and disrupting the mother and child. She suggested that the man should be able to sign a document stating that they are essentially forfeiting their right to access to the child, and absolving them of any responsibility to be a part of the child's life, financially or otherwise.
A heated debate ensued in the comments. The original poster, jemimapuddleduckpancakes brought up her opinion that if the woman wants to opt-out of parenthood, she is able to by way of abortion. She argued that men are not given the same choice.
There were over 1000 comments from people who had feelings about this proposed scenario. Some people strongly agreed that this should be an available option, while others thought that this would come with it's own unique bag of issues. Still others were incredibly upset that the original posted used abortion as a comparison, given the emotional and physical complications that can arise from that. Many users pointed out that absolving men from supporting their children may lead to poverty, which only harms the innocent child.
The amount of discussion that ensued was very telling. Overall, many people seemed disappointing with the idea of giving "deadbeat dads" a pass on the responsibility of having children. Although the original poster came up with this scenario with the best of intentions as a response to the very difficult position that her friend was put in, overall the idea of giving men the opportunity to "opt-out" of their parental responsibility is certainly problematic.