I know this has come up before on the blog, so this may be a good time to pool resources and share stories. These things go both ways: Women who are considered “fit” to reproduce (young, white, middle-income or higher, educated, able-bodied, etc) are often second-guessed in their decisions to not have children or to delay childbearing — and especially in the decision to go on permanent or long-term birth control. On the other hand, women who are deemed “unfit” to reproduce and/or parent (often women of color, poor women, drug-using women and disabled women) are forced or coerced into sterilization, or legally punished for exercising their fundamental right to reproduce.
So this might be a good place to share resources, strategies and information about how we can fully exercise our reproductive rights in a world where our identities shape just how free we’re all allowed to be.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Valentine's Day in Manhattan. It's midnight. My boyfriend Mr W and I plus Kiki my John Frieda stylist - also in town for Fashion Week - are having the ultimate “no kids” experience. We're perched on a crowded stairwell in a freezing Chelsea warehouse, watching a raucous set by an impromptu band consisting of two catwalk models, a member of REM, a well-known actor and the lead singer of Screaming Baby.
. . .
It's reassuring to know you've outgrown notions of cool. Still, I felt that by attending the hippest party in the world, I was somehow taking one for the team and returning to report: parties really are as rubbish as when you were 14.
Damn, I've just googled Screaming Baby and they are in fact called Amazing Baby.
The always provocative Keith Drury has written a new article called How Dare You Have Eight Children! Despite the title, it’s not really about the “octuplet mom” in California. Drury is writing about a larger social trend in which having children is viewed as a purely personal choice and not as the natural outcome of the marriage relationship. In 1990 65% of the public agreed that “children are very important to a successful marriage.” By 2007 that number that dropped to slightly more than 40%. Having children is increasingly seen as an optional lifestyle choice. . . .
Drury goes on to probe what all this means for the church. He wonders if we will not eventually adopt the attitude of the surrounding culture. Will ministries that focus on children and youth lose their importance in the church, being supplanted by ministries that focus on adults?
Friday, February 20, 2009
As a contented, settled 42-year-old, Kate Johnson wonders why she still has to explain her decision not to have a baby .
. . .There’s a tacit implication that you can’t know real love (or even real fatigue) until you’ve had a baby. The love I have for my family (including nephew and nieces), my close friends and my boyfriend doesn’t feel less than whole. Maintaining those relationships takes time and mutual effort, patience, love, generosity, good humour, understanding and selflessness. At 42 I find my close relationships satisfy any and all nurturing urges. I agree that my fatigue isn’t remotely noble, because it’s due to late nights and red wine, rather than early mornings and baby duties.
. . .
I’m child-free, not because I’m an ambitious high-flyer, a self-obsessed consumer, a feminist or anti-children in any way. There are lots of children in my life; they’re adorable. And it’s not because I’m selfish; in fact, I can’t see what’s so selfless about people choosing to have children. But that’s their choice, and I accept it. And this is mine.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
As someone who's not particularly interested in reproduction . . . I just assumed that if you couldn't have kids, you didn't. Having spent hundreds of eight-dollar hours with other people's kids, being child-free doesn't strike me as a terrible fate. But for those infertile folk who feel otherwise, in vitro fertilization is available all over the U.S. and Canada for the low, low price of about $15,000.
For 15 grand, I can understand why patients would want the maximum bang for their buck. IVF involves mechanically implanting fertilized eggs in the mother-to-be's womb. If the embryos don't take, that's a bunch of hope and the price of a modest car down the drain. However, the recent birth of octuplets to an unemployed Californian woman has me (and the rest of the world) wondering whether cost-benefit analyses should enter into the decision to start a family. . . .While I do believe that a woman, and not the state, should control the number, spacing, and upbringing of her children, that isn't a free license to make irresponsible choices. Raising children is expensive, even if you don't use IVF to conceive them. It's irresponsible to have a child if you're unemployed, especially if you're paying scientists to make it happen, and you already have six kids and no job. That shows a lack of respect for the children being brought into the world, and a lack of foresight on the parent's part. It's not entirely the mother's fault, though.
It was irresponsible for a doctor to condone the implantation of a whopping six embryos instead of the normal two or three. The logic behind this decision is both economic and ethical: the chances of a successful pregnancy are higher with more embryos. Also, without getting into an abortion debate, the embryos belong to the people whose sperm and egg produced them, and can be used however these progenitors see fit.
The decisions of the doctor and the mother were both flawed, but the root problem here is thinking of IVF as something other than the creation of a life. Treating IVF as an industry alters a patient's expectations, and changes her from a mother to a consumer of services. IVF shouldn't be about getting your money's worth-the goal, as with any pregnancy, is a single child.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
It's Saturday and we're in trolley gridlock at Waitrose. No Lidl migration from here: the place is hopping. It's hellz-a-shoppin'. Toddlers howl the pain of life. Posh dads, panicked by their unfamiliar surroundings, bellow for their young: “OLIVER! DON'T. TOUCH. THE. OLIVES.”
And it is here, in the very heart of London's Nappy Valley, that you may observe the yummy mummy in her natural habitat, moving in a herd and yet haughtily individual, highstepping her way through the plainer inhabitants of the Waitrose veldt. As if all of which weren't enough, here, too, is my boyfriend, Mr W, with a hangover and wincing at every childish squeak with a theatricality so insistently absurd that you'd think he were witnessing an acceptance speech by “Wince-y” Winslet herself.
. . .
Friday, February 13, 2009
Upmarket resorts catering for couples seeking a quiet getaway will no longer be able to ban children under a landmark decision by the State Administrative Tribunal.
The SAT has refused the owners of Chimes Spa Retreat, near Denmark, an exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act after it described itself as an “adults’ retreat”.
The ruling outraged many South-West tourism operators who say they cater for a niche market — couples looking to holiday without children. The unnamed complainant had not tried to book at Chimes but claimed her threeyear-old daughter was discriminated against after the resort was advertised online as an “adults’ retreat”.
Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson said yesterday any resort that refused children opened itself to legal action. . . .
Friday, February 06, 2009
In fact, Kerner and Heidi Raykeil, a Seattle-based sex columnist, heard the kids excuse so often they decided to write a book, "Love in the Time of Colic" (Collins, $16.99), aimed at getting parents back in the sack. . . .
. . .
"Of course," he says. "I have a 5-year-old who cannot fall asleep without us in his room and will be in our bed by midnight," he says. "And other things happen as your kids get older. You get habituated into not having sex and taking each other for granted. It's easy to see your partner as wife/mom or dad/husband as opposed to friend/partner."
And parent isn't always the sexiest label. . . .
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
“American society is changing in ways that make children less central to our common lives, shared goals and public commitments.”
Researchers in America and Britain have recently identified several key indicators signaling that child care occupies less of the average adult’s lifetime in the 21st century than in past decades. The social implications for the future of the family in these two countries could be enormous.