"A lot of us feel like it's not even really fair that men should get to vote, considering they could be 72 and, with a little Viagra, have another baby," says Vicki Iovine, author of The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy. "For us women, it's really a limited window. We know that boys who grow up to become men don't necessarily want to be men. They like to be boys. And so women say, 'You know what? He's gonna just have to snap out of itand my pregnancy will be the thing to do it.'" The end, says Iovine, sometimes justifies the means. "Any guy with a heart and soul, and preferably with a job, once he sees the baby on the sonogram or hears the heartbeat, will melt," she says.
Just how many women act on that presumption is hard to say. According to FDA figures, one in a thousand of them should get pregnant over the course of a year if they're using the Pill exactly as prescribed. But it is estimated that in reality 50 times that many get pregnant. There's no way of knowing how much of that disparity can be explained away by "intentional" oversight, but that's a big gap to chalk up to carelessness. And though there was a time when flushing the Pill down the toilet was fodder for Jerry Springer, the rules have changed. "I've been hearing a lot about this lately, and it's coming into the educated and wealthy classes, too," says Pepper Schwartz, a relationships expert for Perfectmatch.com and professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle (she does not support the practice). "These women can afford to take care of the child."
Many of them will probably have to. We don't hear about the cases in which a guy suspects he's been duped into fatherhood- but ultimately turns to mush in the soft glow of the sonogram monitor. But as cavalier as certain women are about the "nudge," not all men react so favorably when the "good news" is deliveredespecially if they find out they've been snowed. Jody's boyfriend more or less freaked out. She terminated the pregnancy, then their relationship slowly dissolved. "It felt a little like the fun was taken out of everything," she says. "He was shocked and scared."
Last year, Matt Dubay, a 25-year-old computer programmer in Saginaw, Michigan, says he had the same reaction when his girlfriend, Lauren Wells, allegedly pulled something similar. Dubay claims she told him she was infertile and was using a contraceptive "as an extra layer of assurance and protection." But when she got pregnant anyway and told Dubay she was keeping the baby, he said he wanted no part of it. Earlier this year, he argued in court that her alleged deception should exempt him from having to pay child support. His lawyer, Jeffrey Cojocar, reasoned that Michigan's paternity law violated the Constitution's equal-protection clause: If the situation were reversed and Dubay had gotten Wells pregnant after claiming he was sterile, he'd have no way of forcing her either to keep or to abort the child. The judge didn't buy his argument, but it's helped open a broadening national dialogue: Where do you draw the line between deadbeat dad and victim of deceit?