Stop the Presses: There are Married Women Who Aren’t Having Children
I don’t want to freak you out, but did you know that there are women — like human women — who are either infertile or choosing not to have children? I know this is probably going to come as a shock, and I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself. Please don’t go running through the wall, creating a you-shaped hole in the plaster. There’s no need to panic, really. Because… you know… 7 billion person world population to limited resources and all that.
The LA Times reported last week that more married US women are not having children. The subtitle for the article is “Among married American women, having no children is still rare, but it has become less so as ideas about why to marry have changed.”
You need to get six paragraphs down until you get to any mention of what role infertility may play in the trend: “Federal statistics on older women suggest some found themselves unable to have children, while others chose not to have them.”
It only suggests it. That 7.3 million statistic, or 12.5% of the childbearing-age population maybe has something to do with the number of childless married women rising from 4.5% in 1988 to 6% in 2010.
The rest of the article points at changing views on marriage as the reason for the increase. And that’s certainly a possibility. After all, advances in fertility treatments and perfecting the ones that existed in 1988 should have an affect on that number, even if the rate of infertility has increased over those two-plus decades. But I can’t help but feel that infertility plays a larger role than the single sentence in this article suggests. Suggests. See, there’s that word again. It’s a word that forgives all sins. You can sort of say anything, throw in “suggests” and no one is accountable.
All sarcasm aside, I wish there were mentions in these articles that living child-free after infertility is a viable (and perhaps more common-than-reported) option to resolving infertility, and it has little to do with how much the person wants to parent and more to do with how the person needs to process or deal with their infertility. I’d love a study that reports reasons for not continuing on with family building: the depression and anxiety that can accompany treatments, a lack of desire to pursue a particular path, the financial concerns, the inability to find a doctor to treat the infertility, rejection from adoption programs. There are dozens of reasons for why a person opts to resolve their infertility via living child-free. I would love a big, juicy, LA Times article following hundreds of women who resolve without living children, trying to discern the many reasons why they are part of that 6% statistic.
Since there is sort of nothing crappier than being an invisible reality inside a visible number.