This one would actually be somewhat less contentious if Robert Zubrin had simply called it, “The right to control over one’s reproductive choices.” On one extreme, you get the people who think that women should just stay home and raise babies, and birth control should be entirely illegal – and, yes, that kind of sexism still exists. On the other, there have been unfortunate cases in which the mentally ill and other “undesirables” have been forcibly sterilized so that they won’t pass on their genes. Is it possible to find some kind of middle ground in which reproduction is a very personal and private choice?
Robert Zubrin’s “Martian Constitution” calls it “the right to form families and have children.” This has had the unfortunate (and maybe unintended) effect of implying that the first Martian colonists will get to the Red Planet and start making babies as soon as they can get a rudimentary life support system set up. I am hoping both that people will give us credit for having a sense of responsibility and that we’ll all have better self-control than that. We may wind up with a system where someone who acts like a dick when it comes to reproductive rights will end up having his dick surgically removed simply because irresponsible breeding will be much more difficult for a socioeconomic system to absorb on Mars than it is on Earth.
Social pressure is the worst of it no matter where on Earth you are. There are still people who believe that having large families is not just a right but a God-given command. They seem intent on ignoring the fact that there are lots of children in the American foster care system and in orphanages around the world who don’t have a stable and loving family. Would it really hurt anything, is it any less Christian, to adopt one or two toddlers rather than go through the trauma of giving birth to another baby?
And then there are places in which marriages are arranged by the girl’s family. It might nominally be illegal, but enforcement is lax in some countries. Imagine that you’ve barely begun to menstruate and your family informs you that this is your fiancé, and if you’re lucky, he’ll be a decent man. Now you have an idea of how these poor girls probably feel. It’s obvious that nobody is thinking of their reproductive rights and they see it as being no different than selling a cow.
On the flip side, the modern American feminist seems to not think too highly of the stay-at-home mom. There are actual studies that show that the services that Calvin’s mother in the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip provides are worth six figures annually, and the typical housewife isn’t being paid that. These people are quite serious. Mothers, you’re worth a lot even if you feel underappreciated. But that’s not how some feminists see it. These people expect you to be on the fast track to becoming a high-level executive if you’re not running your own business. If the toddler isn’t in daycare, you’re not really working. Is that what you want? If not, there is something to be said for working for home if you need an income but want to be around for the kids. If you do, go for it because it really is your choice.
Just reading the Dear Abby column is enough to give the impression that being a stay-at-home mom, or any other kind of parent, is a complicated business. You see twins that can’t seem to get along, and of course they share a bedroom so sending them there won’t help. Adult offspring don’t talk to their parents for more than a decade over some real or imagined slight. The father can’t seem to comprehend that the mother is stuck with the kids all day and would changing a diaper or two really kill him.
And of course there is the question of whether to have kids in the first place. The woman wants a child but the man is self-aware enough to know he’s not ready to be a father yet. The man wants a little boy to play catch with but the woman is afraid that she will be stuck with all the responsibility. I really recommend reading Dear Abby if you’re having relationship issues and want to know you’re not alone, because you can be sure she’s heard it before.
And what if you accidentally get pregnant? Some families just shrug and roll with it because they know that actions have consequences. Others pop the morning-after pill, get an abortion or put the kid up for adoption because they know they’re not ready. A few simply dump the kid, hopefully in a safe place like one of those anonymous baby boxes that a few hospitals have. It would certainly help to have resources in place and more legal options for families who weren’t really ready to have children.
It should be her choice and no one else’s. By making it her decision to have children only when she’s genuinely ready, she won’t ever resent becoming a mother and might even become a better parent of that little potential Einstein. If she isn’t ready until well after menopause, adoption of that cute little tyke that somebody else gave up for the sake of giving him a chance at a better life is an honorable choice. Then she didn’t get herself into a situation that she wasn’t ready for simply because society said so.
Would you make a good parent? This is a hilarious way to find out.
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