ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A man is suing his ex-girlfriend for breach of contract for getting pregnant when they allegedly agreed she wouldn't.
Peter Wallis accuses Kellie Rae Smith of stopping birth control and forbidding him visitation once their daughter was born. The girl, named Taylor Smith, will turn 1 year old on Friday.
``I think people who are parents have responsibility for their children,'' Wallis said. ``I think that's within the definition of being a parent. But I don't think being in a romantic relationship leaves a person with no liability just because of the relationship. I think we have a duty to be responsible to each other even behind closed doors.''
Smith denies they had such an agreement, says she accidentally got pregnant while using birth control pills.
Wallis' Sept. 16 lawsuit accuses Smith of breach of contract, fraud and conversion of property - his semen. Wallis, 36, also recently filed a motion seeking a temporary visitation order; a hearing is set for Wednesday. Smith, 37, filed a paternity lawsuit against Wallis in June.
Wallis said he doesn't expect monetary damages and mainly wants a court to agree with his position. He said he also expects to pay child support and wants the child's name changed to Taylor Smith Wallis.
``I have little or no doubt that the child is mine but ask for a DNA test to confirm it,'' he said last week, adding he would pay for the test. ``I'm saddened, and I'm hurt for Taylor.''
Smith's attorney, Mary Han, said Wallis has never legally admitted to paternity.
``If he hasn't - and continues to challenge it - what right does he have to see this child?''
Women Behaving Badly; Reproductive Fraud
The Times (Britian) 28 November 1998
OPINION - by Mary Ann Sieghart
In the old days, sex was simple. The man did the deed and the woman paid the price. Sex meant pregnancy and pregnancy meant motherhood - either the shameful, single kind or, if the man was honourable, within marriage.
Now life is more complicated. Pregnancies can be terminated, whether the man likes it or not. And mothers can bring up children on their own, again whether the man likes it or not. Women may still bear the physical burden of motherhood, but it is increasingly men who are paying the price.
Only this week, an American, Peter Wallis, sued his former girlfriend for "intentionally acquiring and misusing" his sperm by having a child that he did not want. He claims that she deliberately stopped taking the Pill without telling him. She refused to have an abortion and he is now saddled with the lifelong costs - financial and emotional - of fatherhood.
I know we are supposed to side with our own sex, but here my sympathies lie almost entirely with the father. A lawsuit may be going too far, but what could be worse than becoming a parent against your will? Women who trick their partners into starting a family are dishonest and manipulative. Yet the poor man has no recourse.
Some say that it is his responsibility to ensure that such an "accident" does not happen. He could have worn a condom. That is true, but a relationship in which people are living together, as these two were, presupposes a certain level of trust.
Anyway, this is the same flinty argument used by anti-abortionists to women; that it is their responsibility not to get pregnant in the first place. Most women find this outrageous: they think they should have the right to choose whether or not to give birth.
But what about a man's right to choose? It seems that men no longer have it. They cannot insist that their partners have children. They cannot insist that they do not. They can, of course, take more responsibility for contraception though, in a long-term relationship, most couples prefer the less intrusive female methods.
So men have to rely on their partners' good faith. And if that faith is breached, they can no longer even say to the woman: "You have the child if you want to, but don't involve me." Most Western countries now have child support laws that force fathers to pay up for 18 years even after a one-night stand. Indeed, one American court has ruled that an underage boy seduced by an older woman who was prosecuted for statutory rape was still liable for child support if her crime resulted in the birth of a child. That is clearly ridiculous.
It is reasonable to expect men who have consensual sex to face the risk of contraceptive failure. Technology has not completely divorced sex from pregnancy, even if we like to believe that it has.
But deception is different. Mr Wallis quite understandably feels betrayed and ill-used. And I share his anger when I see women behaving so badly. If we want men to be more equal partners at home, we must surely be prepared to share the most important decision of all - whether or not to bring other people into the world.