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Roe v. wade is not just for women anymore. At least that’s what a recent federal lawsuit in Michigan is seeking to prove, in which a men’s group wants to give men the right to opt out of fatherhood for children they did not plan to have, or want to have. The recent lawsuit, dubbed “ Roe v. Wade for men,” claims that if a woman can choose whether or not to be a mother, then a man should be allowed to choose whether or not he wants to be a father-in the financial sense, at least. Dubay v. Wells, No. 1:06-CV-11016 (E.D. Mich.). The suit, crafted by the National Center for Men, a New York-based nonprofit that advocates for men’s rights, was filed on behalf of Matt Dubay, a 25-year-old computer technician who has been ordered to pay child support for a child he claims he never intended to have. Dubay claims the child’s mother assured him she could not get pregnant, and knew that he did not want to have a child with her. Given that, Dubay argues he shouldn’t be forced to pay for a child he didn’t plan for, or want, in the first place. The case has many family law practitioners talking. “When we started in this business, if a father said ‘don’t get an abortion, I want my child,’ we knew that right had been trumped by the right of the mother. Now [men] are using the financial weapon in these cases,” noted family law expert John P. Paone Jr., former chairman of the Family Law Section for the New Jersey State Bar Association. Jennifer Brandt, a partner in the family law department at Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia, noted that “[t]his idea of opting out of child support is unknown. It’s an interesting issue, but I think it would be very difficult to legislate.” But should Roe v. Wade for men prevail, she added, “it could change the nature of my practice . . . and it’ll probably keep a lot of family lawyers in business.” Michigan State University College of Law Professor Melanie Jacobs said the Michigan case highlights a growing concern in family law: “We really need to re-evaluate ‘how do we define a parent’ ” she said. “ Is it because of genetics, or because of something more?” -Tresa Baldas

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