In an interesting paternity case, a Georgian man loses the opportunity to have visitation rights after the court determined that he gave up his responsibilities after telling the mother to have an abortion.
Identified in court documents only as E.M., this approximately 4-year-old child has been the subject of court battles for the last several years. Conceived during a one-night stand, the mother, who was married but separated at the time, decided that she wanted to have the child and would eventually give the child up for adoption after birth. As the biological father, Joshua Brumbelow’s first reaction was to offer to pay the mother to have an abortion and he did not offer any assistance during her pregnancy, financial, emotional or otherwise. Obviously, she refused. Since then, Brumbelow has been fighting in the court for visitation rights, which Georgia’s Supreme Court recently denied.
In the opinion, Chief Justice Harold Melton acknowledged that Brumbelow wanted to have some sort of relationship with his child, but his own actions prevented the court from siding with him.
“However, there are other circumstances that support the superior court’s ultimate finding that Brumbelow abandoned his opportunity to develop a relationship with E.M. First, the superior court found, with support in the record, that the only financial support that Brumbelow offered Mathenia (the mother) during her pregnancy was to pay for an abortion, which does not show that he wanted to pursue a relationship with his child. (‘If [a biological father] grasps [his] opportunity [interest] and accepts some measure of responsibility for the child’s future, he may enjoy the blessings of the parent-child relationship and make uniquely valuable contributions to the child’s development.’) Rather, the offer (of an abortion) indicated that Brumbelow wanted no relationship at all with E.M., as an abortion would have ensured that no relationship could ever develop.
Basically, the court is saying that fatherhood is a responsibility, and one that a man potentially severs if he encourages the woman he impregnated to have an abortion. Also, Brumbelow had plenty of opportunities to engage with his future child if he wanted as the mother informed him of his impending fatherhood as soon as she found out she was pregnant.
The court goes on, “Supporting Mathenia during her pregnancy was an important way that Brumbelow could have shown interest in the welfare of E.M. before the child was born, as one’s opportunity interest ‘begins at conception’ and may be pursued as soon as the father learns a child has been conceived.”
Per Georgia’s Superior Court, fatherhood begins at conception. As soon as a child has been created, the man becomes a father. If he wants to terminate that relationship through abortion and shows no interest throughout the pregnancy, he is not fit to suddenly file for visitation only after he learns that the child is being put up for adoption.
This is a complicated case, with many emotions on either side, and it’s an important one. While there should be an opportunity for adopted children to meet their biological families, if possible, the judge makes a good and incredibly valid point. A man cannot have a relationship with a child that has been aborted.
Fatherhood doesn’t begin at birth or the first time that a child says “da-da,” but at the moment of conception. It’s an incredibly powerful pro-life message, and one that hopefully other men facing an unplanned pregnancy take to heart.