I’m childfree and plan on staying that way. I suppose I could rattle off a list of reasons why I don’t want children, but what it all boils down to is the fact that parenting doesn’t interest me at all. I feel no draw to children, no desire to nurture. I’ve actually tried, but just can’t envision myself happy as a parent. Having and raising children is such an important and all-consuming endeavor, that I can’t begin to imagine going through it when I have no interest in it. So I’m very happily childfree.
Most of the “childed” folks I know are very happy with their decisions as well. But every now and then I run into someone who seems less than happy as a parent. Of course, there are also unhappily-childless people. All this leads to the question: “Do children make you happy?” That very question is the topic of a “True or False” piece in this week’s Newsweek. Author Lorraine Ali comes to the conclusion that the statement “children make you happy” is false. I like to think, and believe the article shows, that a better conclusion is “maybe true, maybe false.” It would absolutely be false for me. But I know plenty of people for whom it is true.
It’s that basic dichotomy (so simple, yet so complex!) that forms the need for reproductive justice. I hope we can all agree that the right to pursue happiness is an integral aspect of human rights. I hope we can also agree that a family of one’s choosing is an integral part of happiness. If we can agree with those statements, it is easy to draw the conclusion that reproductive justice is integral to human rights and human happiness.
All humans deserve the opportunity to build the family of their dreams. Granted, there are sometimes limiting factors to having children: biological, financial, social. I suppose it might be easier for the average person to remain childfree than it would for the average person to have their dream family of 10 children. None the less, with greater social support such as universal health and child care and educational opportunities, more people might find it easier to create their dream families. And for those who choose to limit their family size – one child, two, none - access to and education about contraception and reproductive choices is integral to their family building.
The right to parent, or not. The right to create the family of your choosing. The right to give birth and the right to terminate or prevent a pregnancy. The right to raise children in a healthy environment and the right to remain childfree without judgment. These are the reasons why the pursuit of happiness and reproductive justice go hand-in-hand.
Thanks to Bobby Tsunami for passing along the Newsweek article that inspired this post!