Baby Wars: Matt

Baby Wars: Matt

"From the beginning, I had told her very clearly that at this point in my life, there is no way I could be a father. She informed

me that she had a condition where she could not get pregnant. She also informed me that she was on the pill for other medical conditions," explains Matt Dubay. His ex-girlfriend, Lauren, became pregnant anyway, and now he must pay $500 in child support every month. "When a pregnancy occurs, women are given options; men are not. They are forced into whatever the woman decides she's going to do."

 

Matt's lawyer, Jeff Cojocar, filed a suit in federal court citing Roe v. Wade on privacy and invasion of privacy. "We are dealing with privacy rights for men and women," Jeff says.

 

"Forcing me to be a father financially, mentally, and physically is definitely not something that I feel is fair," Matt says.

 

Matt, along with Jeff and the director of the National Center for Men, Mel Feit, join Dr. Phil onstage. Dr. Phil asks Matt why he has looked to these men for help.

 

"I was given no choice in an unplanned pregnancy. I was denied the choice that women are given every day," Matt says.  

"It seems to me that one could say you made a choice when you decided to have unprotected sex," Dr. Phil points out.

 

Matt agrees, but explains, "She made that same choice, but then she is given options that I am not given. She's given the option to put the child up for adoption, to abort the child, to simply give the child away, whereas I'm faced with whatever she decides to choose."

 

"I am not sure it is fair to say he had unprotected sex," Mel interjects. "She told him she could not get pregnant due to a medical condition, and she was taking birth control pills."

 

"Did you wear a condom?" Dr. Phil asks Matt.

 

"Initially, we did," Matt says.

 

"But you weren't wearing a condom, eventually?" Dr. Phil probes. Matt agrees. "That's unprotected sex."

 

"I think whenever a man and a women go into the bedroom and lock the door behind them, they create within that space an impenetrable privacy. It's the ultimate privacy, and I think they should have a right, in that private space, to decide, if they want to, to make love without making a baby. That's a moral choice, and because it's such a personal choice, it should not expire the minute there is contraceptive failure," Mel contends.

"Wasn't there a conscious assumption of risk here?" Dr. Phil asks Matt.

 

"No. When she assured me there was no physically possible way that she could become pregnant, I took her at her word. I trusted her," he says.

 

"Are you saying that you have no responsibility in this whatsoever?" Dr. Phil inquires.

 

"I don't feel that I do. I was very forthright with her," Matt says.

 

Asked for his thoughts, Jeff says, "I am arguing in legal terms. It has never been attacked constitutionally. There have been cases throughout the country for fraud and reproductive fraud, but we're attacking, just really saying that the law

treats men and woman differently and it shouldn't, and it's unconstitutional and illegal."

 

"It seems to me that there were two choice points here. One is the choice to have sex consensually, and the second was what to do with the result of that once there was pregnancy," Dr. Phil says to Matt. "You are saying you didn't get the second choice point?"

 

"That is correct," Matt replies.

 

Mel interjects his thoughts. "I am not sure that they had consensual sex," he says. "He told her, 'I don't want to be a father.' She had to know somewhere in her heart that if there was a pregnancy, she might want to bring the child to term and require him to be a father."

Dr. Phil explains that Lauren was invited to be a part of the show, but she declined. She sent a statement that Dr. Phil reads. "She says, 'I

am an honest person. I have never lied to Matt about anything. My focus is on providing a nurturing home for our baby. I am disappointed that Matt has decided not to participate in Elizabeth's life so far, and has instead chosen to contest any responsibility from our consensual actions last year. I believe life begins at conception and blossoms. I take responsibility for my acts and will do my best, as an adult and a mother, to protect and provide for our daughter,'" he reads. He addresses Matt. "Your point is that she is not taking responsibility because she is asking you to take responsibility?"

 

"That is correct," Matt says.

 

"Is anyone here concerned about the baby? I mean, we have an 8-month-old baby," Dr. Phil says. "Is there any doubt that it is your baby?

 

"No," Matt says, but notes, "This is not my child. I never made a choice to be a father in this situation. I believe this child should have

gone up for adoption. That was my choice."

 

"What's in the best interest of a child in this situation might be adoption. Instead of one parent and money, maybe two parents who want to be involved and have the resources and the desire to take care of that child," Mel says.

 

"In theory, you are right," Dr. Phil says. "In actuality, this child does exist with your DNA."

Dr. Phil asks Matt, "Is that difficult for you to look at that child and know that that is your biological child?"

 

"If I had made the decision to be a father, I would wholeheartedly be a father, and I would take great care of the child," Matt explains. "But forcing me to do so, the child will one day realize I was a father

against my will." Matt has never held his daughter or spent time with her. "I don't believe that's what's best."

 

Mel adds his thoughts. "Fatherhood involves a commitment, a choice, and I think, knowing Matt last few months as I have known him, I think he's going to be a great father when he chooses to be."

 

"We don't always choose the time when these things happen," Dr. Phil points out. "It seems like the more innocent we make her, the more innocent we make you, the more guilty

we make her, the more guilty we make you," he says. "It seems like it's kind of in pari delicto here, that one guilty party cannot collect from another guilty party."

 

"The law provides her with the ultimate trump card," Jeff explains. "A recognized choice, recognized options that aren't reciprocated for men. What we want is to try to create an even playing field."

 

"If you had used a condom the entire time then you would have retained control, correct?" Dr. Phil asks Matt. "You have no idea how reliable that information is, whether she was misrepresenting or not. But if you use a condom then you maintain control and you're not vulnerable to her and her legal rights at that point."

 

"But beyond that, whether I had the ultimate protection or not, that is not 100% to begin with," Matt explains. "The second thing is, she's still given this choice."

"I don't think she would have the ability to know how she was going to feel on the event of her pregnancy. I don't think you had the ability to know how she would feel or how you would

feel," he explains. "That's the problem of young people having sex in uncommitted relationships, where these things haven't been discussed in advance."

 

"I discussed that I would not be a father at this point," Matt clarifies.

 

"You discussed what you knew at that time, but she can't discuss what she doesn't know. And I obviously haven't been pregnant, but I think it changes people's thoughts and perceptions," Dr. Phil tells Matt.  He asks Jeff, "Are you concerned that this can create a trapdoor for a lot of deadbeat dads?

 

"There's always extreme examples of any law, but much like Roe v. Wade, people were worried once that decision came down, that all kinds of children would be aborted, and it didn't have that ripple effect, so I don't think that this lawsuit will have that," Jeff says, noting that he expects to win the case. 

 

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