Friday, March 10, 2006

The right to parenthood

I think I might get a lot of hate mail after this. But as I merely wish to discuss some vexing contradictions in life, I hope readers would just take this as an 'airing of thoughts' with no ill-will directed at any particular individual.

This week a young woman who's suffered from cancer is refused permission to have her frozen embryos implanted because her ex-partner has refused permission.

I just saw a programme about a child of a very disabled woman who is struggling to be a single mother and a professional artist. I recall another TV programme about another single mother who is profoundly deaf and blind who had a baby and needed a retinue of supporters to provide childcare.

Isn't it strange that the very people (scientists) who believe in evolution -- survival of the fittest -- are prepared to give medical treatment to women to conceive babies when there isn't a chance that they could look after these children on their own, and especially without a father?

What about the child's right to a father?

Evolution in the past has ensured that people with disabilities, disease, etc, will not marry and procreate. In so-called primitive societies, men chose young women with big hips who can carry, give birth to and nurture babies without NHS midwives, anaesthetists and surgeons on stand-by. Women chose men who were proficient hunters/providers and strong protectors.

So even if the weak and diseased were able to procreate (sadly, sometimes through rape), their children would not normally survive childhood from a lack of protection from an absent father or lack of nurture from a mother who has died young or at childbirth (no bottled milk available). That way, the defective genes naturally 'died out'.

With medical advances and paradigm shifts in moral/ethical consideration, people who would previously have been 'selected out' are now able to reproduce. In western cultures with welfare states, this often means that other taxpayers get to pick up the bill.

When I was growing up, it was emphasized that we needed a good education, to get a good job, so that we could get married, have children and provide for our family. Without a welfare state, those who were lazy and didn't get an education got 'selected out' and never got to have children.

Children born out of wedlock were usually put up for adoption, to be given a family (and advantages) the unwed mothers cannot provide.

People say to me so often that we should have another child. We have been very blessed with a normal healthy child despite marrying so late in life. We were prepared to be childless. When I fell pregnant, we were delighted and agreed that we would accept this child whichever way he/she came.

An aside, really: So we were not happy when medical staff kept trying to get me to undergo amniocentesis to ensure that the baby did not have Down's.

What were the chances of my baby having Down's? 1 in 300.

What were the chances of my miscarrying after amnio? 1 in 100.

We were prepared to accept the baby, Down's or not, and refused the offers of testing. But my husband did want to know the sex of the child. This was refused on the basis that where we live, people tended to abort female foetuses. So it was OK to test and abort a baby with potential Down's syndrome, but it was not OK to say whether we were having a boy or girl just so that we could prepare better.

When the baby got distressed and my body refused to cooperate, he had to be surgically removed. Husband's words were: your cervix has forgotten how to dilate.

Yes one could hit him for saying that, but there is a grain of truth. Older women are not programmed to give birth to their first children.

The fact is: If not for medical intervention, I could have died from giving birth. Or our child might not have survived. Husband did say that if push comes to shove (pardon the pun especially when I could do neither), he would have chosen to save me and not the baby.

Precisely because I am thankful to have my life (still) and a healthy child, we decided against another child.

So, back to having another baby: When one has to put on one's reading glasses to read the dosage instructions on the Calpol bottle, it is clear that our bodies are telling us, 'time to stop'.

Of course I would like to have more children. But the next child is more likely to be genetically disadvantaged. I can insist on my right to parenthood and NHS and Social Services to provide the support before and after the birth, or I can think about the right of any child to younger, more energetic parents who can run around and play football/whatever with him.

Children have the right to two parents, preferably two who are alive!!!

I often imagine what I would be doing had I not got married and have a child. Would I be professor by now? Would I be travelling all over the world giving lectures? Would I have published many books?

Maybe. But would I be more or less happy than what I am today?

I think I would still be happy, but in a different way. I've learned to stop envying my single friends what they are able to achieve without the considerations of husband's career and child's education.

As the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11-12:

"... for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. "

Why did the Apostle Paul feel this way?

"13 I can do everything through him [Jesus Christ] who gives me strength."

So I wish this young lady strength to carry on. Celebrate the life that she still has. Channel her energies into doing something positive.

Having two children is not necessarily better than having one. Having one is not necessarily better than having none. Being married is not necessarily better than being single.

Each is different and each brings with it joys as well as tribulations. Let us learn to be "content in any and every situation".

Many blessings to all!

The link to the newspaper report http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8122-2075264,00.html

Back to Organic-Ally.

No comments: