"Knowledge is bliss"- Towards a society without paternity surprises
by Barry Pearson
[ Previous page | Title page | Next page ]

Appendix C: The next generation of male contraceptives

Obviously, unless people actually stop committing adultery, birth control will be important in achieving the objective!

Options for women are well known - sterilisation, the pill, periodic injections, implants, IUDs, female condoms, the cap, sponges, films, gels, the morning-after pill, abortion, etc. But at the moment, options for men are more limited - vasectomies and male condoms. ("Rhythm method" and "withdrawal" are not ideal for this purpose).

In several years time, perhaps by 2010, there will be a new generation of high quality male contraceptives. Some of these will be chemical or hormonal methods, similar in principle to injections available to women at the moment. In 2000, researchers in the UK and elsewhere were talking about these methods possibly being available within about 5 years from then. This is almost certainly too optimistic, so it is safer to add 5 years to that date.

Other methods will control the sperm in the vasa deferentia. One such method recently passed its clinical trials in India, and has started to be deployed in hospitals there. The method is called RISUG: "Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance". It appears to be an ideal contraceptive: unobtrusive, long lasting, reversible, safe, and reliable. The doctor responsible for the use of no-scalpel vasectomies in Canada intends to introduce this method there. It may take 5 years or so to pass its Canadian clinical trials. Other methods involving the vasa deferentia are under trial in China. One of these methods, for example, involves "shugs". Over half a million men in China have been involved in trials of new contraceptives so far.

This identifies a 3-part approach to paternity, in order to achieve the best balance of rights and responsibilities among men, women, and children. This is similar to the current UK position; it does not require a significant change in law in the UK. But it needs changes in other nations.

1. Male contraceptives will enable men to veto conception if they want to avoid the risk (emotional or financial) of becoming fathers. They will need to use these methods. (It would be useful to speed up the introduction of these new male contraceptives).
2. Child support should be based on biological relationships. This is already the case in the UK, with fairly obvious exceptions. It should become the case elsewhere in the world. There needs to be a high compliance rate for child support payments.
3. Paternity tests should be used to determine the biological relationships that identify child support liabilities. Personal knowledge paternity tests should be available to enable men to predict whether they may have child support liabilities in future, so that they can plan their lives knowing the children they may eventually need to pay for.

The target is that all children born were wanted, or at least accepted, by both man and woman at time of sex. Men will be able to say "I really wanted to be the father of that child - let me be a real caring father". Men will not credibly be able to say "I didn't want that child - let me avoid paying child support". The massive benefit to children of all of the above should be obvious!

[ Previous page | Title page | Next page ]
Page last updated: 13 December, 2003 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2002