To every parent I know, this critique is not directed toward you. Please do not take this writing personally.
Children are one of the most marginalized, at-risk populations on the planet. Gun violence, climate change and poor parenting are all stacked against future generations.
Forced birth advocates postulate that every fetus wants to be born. This is a fact-free assumption stemming from a bias that life is always the most desirable outcome. Unfortunately, not everyone prefers life over death, as demonstrated by increasing suicide rates (www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db433.htm).
But as we’re discussing the unborn, we must entertain the possibility that a fetus might prefer NOT being born. No human is born with consent, not a single one. Each and every one of us is here because we were conceived without our knowledge and birthed without our permission. We had no say in whether or not we wanted to arrive Earth-side.
For many children born into desperation, poverty, abuse and neglect, I hypothesize that, were they ever given a choice, they would have opted out of life-long suffering and lingered in the spiritual ether until their soul could be borne to a pair of parents better equipped to care for them.
Some people have children for selfish reasons, like achieving social status. Millennials practically invented “sharenting” — oversharing photos and videos of their children on the internet. I harbor a lot of skepticism regarding the privacy rights of children on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, but that is a discussion for another day.
Children deserve even more rights and protections than they currently receive and yet we are slow to reflect this narrative shift in our legislation and cultural attitudes. Consider this argument: “If you don’t want your child to be gay and wouldn’t accept them for who they are then don’t have children at all.” I think such self-reflection is critical to ensuring the people stepping up to the parenting plate are doing so for the best interests of their offspring, in all circumstances, in perpetuity.
In my opinion, the only two requirements for anyone to be deemed a “worthy parent” would be the capability to care for the physical, mental and emotional needs of one’s offspring, and the desire to be a parent. It should go without saying that people who do not want to bring new life into the world should not be parents. That’s how we end up with Child Protective Services rescuing abandoned babies and toddlers and shunting them into our failing foster care system.
Now, deciding who should parent and who shouldn’t be allowed to procreate is a pretty slippery slope that quickly devolves into discussions of eugenics and genocide. Many of us are sometimes guilty of uncharitable thoughts, wishing so-and-so hadn’t had children because they are too XYZ. Fill in the blank. I’m guilty of making critical judgements like, “He’s too abusive to make a good father.” But then I immediately shove myself off my high horse because eugenics are always bad policy.
It’s dangerously dystopian to, for example, put IQ or social requirements on prospective parents. It’s even more dangerous to sterilize “undesirable” people, which has happened many times before in the history of the United States. Thousands of Native American women (that we know of) have been sterilized in the United States, even as recently as 1976 (https://daily.jstor.org/the-little-known-history-of-the-forced-sterilization-of-native-american-women/). Ditto for Black women. Indeed, non-consensual, unauthorized hysterectomies are occurring in ICE detention centers today, removing sacred wombs from women of color and women with disabilities (https://jsri.msu.edu/publications/nexo/vol/no-2-spring-2021/medical-abuse-in-ice-detention-center-recalls-u-s-legacy-of-forced-sterilization).
It would be all too easy for us to start obliterating entire subsects of the population under the misguided and malicious guise of improving the human genome for the “greater good” or for responding to resource scarcity. Just as it is unacceptable for governments to decide who should be stripped of the privileges of parenthood, it is equally unacceptable for governments to force women to carry pregnancies and give birth against their wills.
Those who are quick to rebuke China for their population-controlling “One Child Only” policy should take a hard, brutally honest look at their own reproductive dogmas.
A society that enslaves females and endangers children deserves harsh criticism.