There was an interesting piece in Slate today regarding the reasons that women remain childless that have nothing to do with having abortions.  It has a lot to do with the choice that comes with having access to legal abortions, though.

Having been in the camp that I was not going to get pregnant and had no desire to procreate for much of my adult life, I can totally understand where this article comes from.  Growing up I always assumed that I would get married and have kids some day, but I never planned my dream wedding and I never named my future kids.  I didn't necessarily want those things, I just assumed I'd have them.  My junior year of high school I had a guy friend state that he wasn't going to have any kids and it got me thinking: Why should he defend his position without me having to defend mine?  I didn't really want to be pregnant, I didn't really want to be in charge of another human being.  Looking back, I think that's a REALLY good way for teenagers to think.

Abortions have nothing and everything to do with this mentality.  The great majority of women don't go out and get pregnant solely so they can turn around and have an abortion.  Thankfully that's not how it works.  But it was always assumed growing up that as a woman, I had choices.  Having choices is empowering and though I don't know life any other way, I'm still grateful for all of the things that I was exposed to growing up - choice in childbearing, a mixture of races, acceptance of sexual orientation, even equality in sports that wasn't there for the previous generation.

When I did get married (we eloped so I never did have to plan a wedding), my husband understood that I didn't want to have any children.  He was highly supportive of me - it just turns out he was really hoping I'd change my mind.  Darn him.  I can still give much more rational reasons why NOT to have children than why.  Children aren't rational beings, so this makes sense.  What doesn't make sense is my hormones dictating another woman's procreation.  Just because I decided a few years into my marriage that maybe having kids wasn't such a bad thing after all and maybe we could try for one, doesn't mean everyone needs to do the same thing.  Sometimes people just don't want to have children and it doesn't matter what the reasons are.  Now that I've been pregnant once, I have no desire to do it again.  Maybe if I'd had only one child as a result of that pregnancy and not twins I'd feel differently, but I really don't feel the ovaries yearning for another and my brain is fairly convinced that we don't need to add to our family again for any number of fiscal and societal reasons.  It amazes me when people see the twins and ask if we're going to have another - can you think of no better question to ask new moms?  Seriously?  Ask me about the weather, but random people on the street don't need to know about my plans for my uterus.

Maybe I've always been raised to be accepting of childless couples because my parents' best friends were.  It's like how my children can see for themselves how gay marriage works by seeing their aunts love each other just the same as their aunt-uncle pairings; I was raised to not really know any different.  It worked for those friends to not have kids of their own.  I don't know the process they went through to get there, but they've never seemed discontented with their decision, so why should I?

I'm at a point in my life where I'll defend the childless more aggressively than the mega-families, but for each end of the spectrum and for all of us in the middle, just having that choice is what makes me proud of how our country has maintained the rights of individuals.  Good old free will.


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