I recently turned 30 and this has led to a great deal of self-reflection. My expectations for this new decade are high. I want to grow into a more loving, forgiving person, I hope to make a significant impact in my community, dedicate my time to important issues, build stronger friendships, and feel fulfilled in my work.
I’ve also reflected on what I know about myself now, about the person I’ve grown into. I don’t enjoy competition for the sake of competing, and I really can’t get into team sports. Winter may, in fact, be my favorite season. I’m empathetic towards others and always see both sides of an issue. I am a firm believer in science and in equity.
However, one thing I have always known about myself is this: I do not want children.
I’ve been married to a wonderful man for five years. The first thing I told my husband when our relationship became serious was that I never want to have children with him (or anyone else for that matter). I gave him an out and told him that if this is an issue, he needed to find someone else. We have discussed this decision over the nine years we’ve been together and even seriously considered having children for a short period of time, but I always come back to the fact that children just aren’t for me. Sure, on the surface, it might be a lot of fun to pick out a cool name and adorable outfits; but most aspects of motherhood would make me miserable.
When your attitude about children is like mine, even strangers tell you that you don’t know yourself well enough to know what you want. I am honest about my feelings on this topic to anyone who will listen. I cannot list how many times someone has told me how my life will change when I have kids, as if the choice not to have them is not even an option. “Enjoy your vacations now,” “you won’t always have that kind of freedom,” must be nice to sleep in, that won’t last forever,” are just a few examples of what I hear on a regular basis from friends, family, co-workers, strangers at the grocery store, the list goes on. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t really even like kids all that much. This does not make me a terrible woman, just an honest one.
Beyond my individual experience, politicians and the media voice divisive and insulting opinions of what a woman’s role should be, and whether or not she is able to choose for herself. Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides women with a number of important services, is under attack by extremist, ideological nonsense. I am fortunate enough to have insurance offered through my employer, to be married to a someone who shares my feelings on family, and in a home that the bank lets me say I own. I have access to the medical care and birth control I need to make my own choice.
We know this is not the case for many women who need the services Planned Parenthood provides. These women may want children eventually, but are unable to make this decision at the right time because they do not have access to proper, effective birth control. They are women who already have children, and cannot take on the responsibility of another. They are women who may never want children, but don’t have the resources to make this decision safely. These women know what they need, and they need to be able to make these decisions for themselves.
I am fed up with the idea that a woman’s access to birth control can be denied by any corporation, nonprofit, or church with a so called “moral opposition,” especially when this moral opposition does not translate into a moral obligation to assist women who cannot care for the children they already have, and perhaps did not even want. We cannot allow these loud voices to speak for everyone. More women need to feel comfortable being honest about their choices, even if it goes against the status quo. Children should always be a choice, and the choice not to have them is ok.