Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Real Reason More Women Are Childless

Conservative histrionics aside, women who have abortions aren't the ones causing the uptick in childlessness. After all, 61 percent of women who have abortions already have one child. And according to a 2004 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, most childless women who have abortions say they are open to the possibility of having kids under different circumstances. However, that doesn't mean that the passage of Roe v. Wade had no impact on the upturn in childless women. Defense of legal abortion led feminists to create a national discourse around the concept of "choice," which helped legitimize the decision to remain childless. This created a space for women who never wanted children to embrace their true desires.

Part of this new self-awareness might mean that women are forsaking motherhood because we're finally admitting that it isn't all it's cracked up to be. As last week's New York magazine cover story documented, parenthood is becoming increasingly miserable because of the exploding expectations placed on mothers—making the child-free lifestyle seem all the more attractive. In 1988, only 39 percent of Americans disagreed with the notion that the childless "lead empty lives." Now a majority—59 percent—disagree that childlessness automatically means you're unfulfilled.
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