Saturday, September 08, 2007

Oz Fertility Expert Encourages 18 Year Olds to Plan for Children

Warning to plan for babies at 18
WOMEN need to develop reproductive life plans - similar to career and financial planning - to avoid being left childless, Australia's leading fertility expert says.
. . .
"There needs to be medical opportunities for people, when they are 18, to sit down with a doctor and help them with their plans, just like a financial planner would."

His report, titled "Empty cots and silent Spring in an age of plenty: What our lifestyles are doing to our reproductive health", recommends programs to provide counselling and risk assessment to "optimise a person's pregnancy potential".
. . .
"Currently, if an individual is worried about their fertility, they can consult with their GP and a Medicare rebate is payable," a spokeswoman for Health Minister Tony Abbott said.

Professor Norman is a keynote speaker at the week-long conference on "fertility preservation".
On one hand, the reduction of IVF and other invasive and dangerous fertility treatments is a positive thing - society and children bear the cost of multiple births and the lifelong health problems caused by these couples' choices.

But on the other, this seems to make the all-too common presumption that everyone wants children. I suspect this program will not be counseling 18 year olds with the view towards them making up their own minds on the matter.
Professor Robert Norman has called on the Federal Government to provide Medicare rebates to encourage people as young as 18 to establish a plan with their doctor on when they want to have children and how they will achieve it.
When and how. No if. Hopefully, the individual physicians doing the counseling would not bring Prof. Norman's obnoxious assumptions to the table. It is probably moot, though, since it does not appear that the program has much support. Still, it is very telling of where we are as a society that these presumptions go unquestioned in the media.

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1 comment:

L.T. said...

The bottom line of this is pretty straightforward: "Have kids now, or else you'll be barren and miserable!"

The worst part is, this kind of sky-is-falling fearmongering will work on younger people, leading women in their late teens and early 20s to have kids before they are ready and possibly against their own desires to wait, or not have kids at all.

Clearly, the more information people have, the better. We *do* live in an era of misconception (no pun intended), where people in their mid-40s think they're just as fertile as they were at 20. But at the same time, having kids isn't the only choice anymore. The danger here is we're going to push people into "do it now before it's too late!" when they never wanted to do it to begin with. It's an old marketing trick, to be sure, but we're talking about becoming a parent, not buying an extra pair of pants that are marked down "for one day only."