Since investigating all things childfree and childless, I’ve become curious about why some people react so violently to infertile people who state that ‘everybody has the right to have a child‘.
Over the years I’ve heard angry rants from family and friends – always in the context of IVF and infertility – about women who make this claim, and I’ve seen hundreds of vitriolic comments under every article containing the statement.
I didn’t viscerally desire children so I never put up a fight. But in the back of my head I’ve always thought: surely deciding to have a baby IS, actually, clearly defined as a basic human right? Anyone can have as many children as they like, when they like, however wretched their condition in life. Can’t they?
Sure enough, the United Nations and the WHO do recognise this as a human right.
Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.
So yes, anyone can have as many as they like, whenever they like. Even if there’s a court order in place to remove each baby at birth because of maltreatment. There are no caveats in place, as far as I know.
Yet those railing against the infertile repeatedly say things like:
No one has the right to have a child! It’s a privilege!
I started to find the language irksome. The sad infertiles were duds without rights, consigned to help sort out the world’s population problems or provide homes for all the unwanted children that other people had exercised their rights to give birth to.
I was irked again last week when a dear friend of mine (a mum) made a comment out of the blue about a TV character desperately trying to have a baby via a surrogate. The line “we have a right to have a baby!” really annoyed her. In fact she found demands of this nature “sickening”.
When I asked her why, she said:
Personally, I think you have the right to have a baby if you can have a baby, but you don’t have the right necessarily if you can’t.
I have to admit I was taken aback. There’s something surprisingly shocking and personal about being told you don’t have the right to do something that everybody around you is doing, because you have a reproductive disorder. Also, where does this logic leave single and gay potential parents?
Have you ever heard an argument that successfully articulates why this basic right should disappear if the person cannot conceive without assistance?
My approach is naive as I know little about ethics in this area but I am genuinely curious about people’s opinions and insights.