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The ethics of baby-making 

Advice Goddess

Doody-bound

You printed a letter from a guy who doesn't want to be a father and wanted to know how to be sure his girlfriend is on birth control. You said, "The single worst form of birth control is trusting that a woman ... longing for a baby" is taking hers (with whether she's ethical being a "mitigating factor"). But you forgot to tell him the magic word — abstinence! In addition to preventing pregnancy, it also guarantees that you won't get STDs or suffer the physically or psychologically damaging effects of premarital sex. Also, where'd you get the idea that women are conniving to get a bun in the oven without informing their partner? Right, we're all baby-hungry, unethical hopeful breeders. — Saved Myself

I like to offer "Don't have sex!" as a form of practical advice — usually just as I'm getting into my flying car.

Yes, abstaining from sex will help a person avoid producing offspring, getting STDs, or breaking a leg after somebody cheaps out on the home dungeon installation. But there's a reason they call it a sex drive, not a sex parked in the garage. Also, the advice "Just don't have sex!" is especially impractical for guys in their early 20s, like the guy who wrote that letter. Sure, he'll just sit his 800-pound libido down for a little chat and then politely decline any opportunity to have sex as if he'd just been offered some questionable hors d'oeuvre.

As for where I got the idea about (some) women "conniving to get a bun in the oven without informing their partner," well, it's come in email I've received from dismayed men paying child support to these women, and from research by Dr. Melinda Spohn. Spohn found that more than a third of the 400 women she surveyed at two community colleges had risked pregnancy — surreptitiously going without birth control or sporadically using it when they had sex with men with desirable qualities (like an apparent willingness to commit and good financial prospects).

On a positive note, it isn't only men who are appalled by this behavior. A female reader who wanted a second child but whose husband wasn't up for it wrote, "I can't even remember how many people heard this and said, 'Well, accidents happen,' followed by a *wink wink.* Seriously, it's disgusting! Even our family doctor said this! I've always been sure to make those people feel about two inches tall by saying that I would NEVER do that to my husband (and honestly, who wants a child this way?!)."

This woman's ethics are the single best guarantee a man has that birth control will be used instead of dropped behind the bed. The thing to do is to make ethics a requirement, meaning looking for a partner to be OMG ethical!!! the way you look for them to be OMG hot!!! In other words, yes, a man who doesn't want a child should practice abstinence — the practical, doable kind: abstaining from getting into bed with any woman until he's observed that he has reason to trust her.

Leica woman scorned

My girlfriend bought me a digital camera for my birthday. Unfortunately, the one she got me lacked some features I wanted, so I returned it to the store, got the camera I wanted, and paid the difference. When I told her this, I think she was offended. Did I screw up? — Photo-Bombed

When people say about gift-giving "it's the thought that counts," they don't mean the recipient's thought, "Did you find this in the trash?"

Yes, you screwed up — not by ultimately getting the camera you need but by making the one she gave you disappear like a witness about to testify against a drug lord. Turning the gift your partner gave you into the gift you want should be a three-step process. First, there's the effusing — no matter how uneffusive you feel: "Wow, bat excrement!" Then there's the waiting. One day, maybe two days. And finally ... "I just love my camera, honey. But there's another one that has this feature I really need — this camera-nerd thing you couldn't have known about. Would you come with me to check it out?" By keeping her involved, the camera you upgrade to becomes, essentially, Son of Camera that she gave you. By the way, that's how you should start talking about your new camera, and fast, before you find yourself using it to take a series of forlorn all-by-myselfies to post on your soon-to-be-live Tinder profile.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Her latest book is Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck.

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