Explain Yourself Before You Breed (Norman Costa)
From Christine Overall in her article, "Think Before You Breed." NY times Opinionator, June 17, 2012:
"In fact, people are still expected to provide reasons not to have children, but no reasons are required to have them. It’s assumed that if individuals do not have children it is because they are infertile, too selfish or have just not yet gotten around to it. In any case, they owe their interlocutor an explanation. On the other hand, no one says to the proud parents of a newborn, Why did you choose to have that child? What are your reasons? The choice to procreate is not regarded as needing any thought or justification."
There is a "Peanuts" cartoon with Charley Brown at his school desk taking an exam. He doesn't know the answer to the essay question on the test. So he proceeds to write an answer, not to the test question, but to his own question for which he has a ready made answer.
So I am wondering as to what, or to whom, Christine Overall is directing her analysis. Who or what is asking a childless female to answer for her lack of progeny? Who or what enforces an expectation upon a woman without kids for an explanation, and one that better be good? If the answer is her mother who can't wait to have grandchildren, or nosy people at work, does this justify a NY Times Opinionator piece to expose such an outrage and biased imposition upon personal choice and freedom. Is this a reason to uncover the real crime that all those folks with babies get off Scot free and owe a very good explanation to the rest of us.
Could it be that the choice to procreate, or even the non-choice of an unintended pregnancy, goes without the slightest curiosity and querying from family, friends, partner, OBGYN, therapist, conselor, or spiritual advisor? Is it true that everyone else in the woman's life is completely incurious and silent as to "Why a baby?" or "Why a baby now?" or "Why a baby later?" or "Why not a baby?" or "Why not a baby now?" or "Why not a baby later?"
I suppose all women who want to have a child, or are thinking about having a child, or are with child NEVER engage in any serious heart to heart talk with anyone of the consequences about wanting, or thinking about wanting, or the fact that they are already pregnant with child. I would have to believe that these discussions and responses to the counsel of others do not actually take place. Such women never have to think about what they are doing, nor consider the counsel of those who care or are interested. They just want to have babies without the slightest thought about what they are doing, and nobody else cares to ask either.
Christine Overall: "The burden of proof — or at least the burden of justification — should therefore rest primarily on those who choose to have children, not on those who choose to be childless."
I really have to ask as to whom the proof is to be rendered, and by what authority the burden is required.
I wonder if Christine Overall is simply too sensitive or too anticipatory about unthinking words and intrusive inquiries from friends and family. Certainly, no organization or institution or government agency is asking, let alone requiring, a full and complete disclosure as to why not. Imposition, rudeness, careless questions, and thoughtlessness can cause anxiety, embarrassment, anger, or outrage at the violation of personal matters. This is understandable. What is not understandable, in my personal opinion, is why the matter transforms into the most grave of ethical questions and the entire burden of any explanation falls on THEM, not ME.
As I suggested at the beginning, she is answering her own question, not the actual question about what is really being deliberated by most people when it comes to having children.