The Other Option: To Remain Childless?

by Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director on September 2, 2014

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A common critique of our work in the area of reproductive technology is that we’re unsympathetic to the couples, particularly the women, who desperately want a child to call their own. In both our films and our writing, we aim to highlight the strong, natural desire to procreate, while also recognizing that it must be balanced with the needs of the children created from such technologies—particularly when it comes to third party reproduction and the desires of children to know and be known by their parents.

A recent broadcast on BBC radio features three women, ages 43, 49, and 59, who discuss what it’s like living a childless life. Some of the refrains you’ll hear are admissions that “At no point did the idea that it might not happen occur to me” and “Not having children broke my heart.”

These women speak with great candor, occasional humor, and deep pain—and their courage to share such intimate, personal stories in a public forum is remarkable. As the broadcast highlights, one-quarter of women born in the 1970s are likely to be childless, normally by circumstance not by choice. As such, these stories can help to slowly break the silence and eliminate the shame that too often surrounds infertility.

One of the women interviewed has undergone 11 rounds of IVF and it still contemplating more. Another speaks of the “dark places” and depression she has experienced without having a spouse or a child. All of them speak of the grief they’ve experienced coming to terms with their childlessness—and how it affects their relationships with their spouses, extended family members, and friends.

In summary, I’d encourage you to give the full thirty-minute interview a listen. By listening to their testimonials, I believe we can all increase in sympathy and solidarity with these women, while at the same time advocating for solutions to infertility that are in the best interest of women and children alike.

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