Here’s my entry in Resolve’s NIAW “Bust an Infertility Myth” challenge. I am late to the party as usual, but there is still time to add your voice to the chorus! The deadline is April 30. Because I’m pathologically unable to follow directions, I am not using one of Resolve’s list of myths.
Myth: Infertility is nature’s way of curbing overpopulation. People who can’t have children should not defy nature and should be content not to use more than their share of resources.
This is pure unadulterated bullshit.
I see it a lot online when there is press coverage of infertility (such as when Robert Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize last year). The liberals, the environmentalists, the supposed feminists come out of the woodwork to condemn people with infertility for seeking treatment. Haven’t we heard about overpopulation? Who are we to add to the problem?
There are two distinct problems with this myth, and I’ll address them both.
First (and this one really cuts me deep, because the liberals, the environmentalists, the feminists … these are my people), reproductive choice means CHOICE. It doesn’t mean only prevention. It doesn’t mean only abortion. If it really means choice, it must also mean the choice to have children, and if we really care about ensuring reproductive choice, then access to fertility treatments should be right up there on the progressive agenda along with protecting Roe and fighting for parental leave.
Second, it’s not even true. The way to reduce family sizes, to improve birth outcomes, to improve women’s health, is to educate women and girls and provide realistic options for family planning. Education, equal protection under the law, access to contraception. Striving to make every child a wanted child. That is the way to combat overpopulation. Not shaming people with infertility for trying to treat their medical condition and exercise their reproductive choice. Infertility and overpopulation have nothing to do with each other.