The right to have a child

The right to have a child

Wanting to reproduce yourself at any cost is to aspire to the pinnacle of banality. I’ll admit that there is a certain amount of security in behaving like everyone else and acting just like your neighbour. To be ‘accepted’ in today’s society means having a job, a baby, or both. Sign up, and then sign up again. The decision not to have a child is taken as an indication of such procreative bitterness that it defies comprehension. Reproductively obsessed people are expected to undergo fertility treatment with the determination og Olympic athletes. And with, it must be said, the complicity of doctors who find themselves a bit uneasy -who wouldn’t be, working with a science that is always one step behind?

The craze for having children is so widespread these days that it has become a big business and is growing fast. Every day, ova, sperm, and babies are for sale, all over the world. Wombs are for rent, with a nine month lease. Specialty clinics are popping up planetwide; the price varies according to the ‘value’ of the product: white babies cost more than black ones. In the United States, ova from a Columbia University student are worth more than those from a Harvard student. This ‘baby business’ is less advanced in Europe, and doesn’t yet exist in France at all, at least officially: the State here, set up to safeguard our ‘welfare’ and our morality, is on the lookout.

‘A child for everyone and everyone for a child’ has given rise to all kinds of debate, all of it both tiresome and ridiculous. Choose sides, comrade; it’s hard to tell which is worse, but easy to see that both are stupid.

On my left there’s the so-called right to a child. This has become such a sacred trust, you almost expect it to turn up in the preamble to the Constitution. ‘The child’ has become so indispensable, so miraculous, that everyone must exercise their right to it. But what about the right not to have a child, on the other side? To whom we would grant this right is unknown, but I suspect that the most industrious are going to find someone. I mean, take me: I no longer have parents; they’re dead. Am I going to demand the ‘right to have parents’? Stage a hunger strike until some court or other decides to give me a new set (being unable to give me back the old ones, since science has not yet figured out how to bring the dead back to life)? No, let’s be sensible: a child is neither a right nor a necessity -it’s simply…a possibility.

CORINNE MAIER (2009). No kid. 40 good reasons NOT to have children. pp. 17-18. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.


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