You’d think society would finally have moved on from putting pressure on women to reproduce, and would now lay off all attempts at forced decision-making on their behalf, preferring to use its moral energy for things like stopping wars. But no.
Whatever a woman does, it’s wrong. There’s much ranting about perceived overbreeding by (usually working class) teenage girls, but you’ll hear just as many accusations of ‘selfishness’, (definition, please), on the part of middle class, professional women who’ve got no intention of having kids. It’s funny how no-one ever truly ties these arguments together, isn’t it? Because the word eugenics just might come trickling out of the woodwork.
There’s still a taboo about not wanting to have children, due to a lingering misogyny that says that a woman who is not a mother is somehow incomplete, and has not fulfilled her true role in life. It’s even worse for those who’ve already had children, and regret it. The writer Lionel Shriver has done more than anyone else to open up this debate, in her prizewinning novel We Need To Talk About Kevin. The story behind how this book finally came to be published in the UK illustrates her point even more firmly, and depressingly.
The flipside of all this is the legions of women rushing to have IVF when there are thousands of babies and children who are desperately in need of a home. Are we still so dynastically obsessed?
In the studio we’ve got a healthcare ethicist to unravel the cat’s cradle of arguments around the issue of IVF and reproductive choice; we’ll be hearing from Glenda, who is happily married with zero children; and Dr Ben is returning to help us understand the medical side of it all.
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