When having a casual relationship or fling, it’s likely that accidents may happen.
Sometimes this happens and neither person is ready to be a parent and they decide to terminate the pregnancy.
But in other instances the woman may decide she wants to keep the baby – so what does this mean for the dad?
One woman has suggested there should be some sort of legal document which would allow men in this situation to officially “opt out” of being involved in the child’s life.
This would mean the woman would always know where she stands and the guy wouldn’t be allowed to try and weasel his way in once the hard work is done and the kid has grown up.
In a post on Mumsnet, the woman explained how one of her friends had recently found herself in a situation just like this.
She said: “My friend has a child who was ultimately the result of a very casual situation. The father was immediately sure that he didn’t want a baby and told her from the very beginning.
“He wasn’t around and didn’t help out for the first couple of years, but has now decided that he wants to have access to the child and start to build a relationship now he is older.
“My friend doesn’t trust him, doesn’t like him and is deeply hurt over all the things she has had to go through alone because of his previous lack of involvement and support.”
This conversation led them to think about how when a woman falls pregnant, she has the option to have an abortion or put the baby up for adoption – thus “opting out of parenthood”.
The man meanwhile has to accept the woman’s decision and his life may be impacted by it.
“So we started to discuss, what if there was an option for a man,” she continued. “It would, of course, have to be done very early on – before the baby was one month old, for example.
“Her idea is that this could be done by signing a legal document stating that he has no desire to be a part of the child’s life in any way, will not ever be able to seek any type of access and will not pay money. This move would have to be irreversible in order to be taken seriously.”
More than 1,000 people took the time to comment on the post sharing their thoughts and the topic sparked fierce debate.
One person said: “I think rather than do something like this, we should concentrate more on getting something like the male pill and put prevention back onto men more.”
Another wrote: “Completely disagree. That as policy would send us back to the days of unmarried mothers’ homes and sending pregnant women to the workhouse. It exonerates men, whatever the circumstances, of any responsibility whatsoever and leaves it entirely on the women’s shoulders.”
A third argued: “For women it’s not just a case of ‘opting out’ by terminating or giving up for adoption. It’s an agonising and painful decision to make.
“Pregnancy is difficult and can be traumatic and life threatening. Using the term ‘opting out’ sounds like you just fill in a form and skip off into the sunset. That might be the case for men but it won’t be for women. The decision needs to be made by the woman, who bears the burden of it all.”
“I do think there should be a limited opt out,” added someone else. “Every time I have sex I have to accept the possibility of becoming pregnant, but I never have to accept becoming a parent.”