The fact that more women are delaying having children is very "worrying" to England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies, she said this week. It's unclear exactly why this is worrying to her, though presumably it has something to do with the fact that women's fertility declines as they get older, meaning some women might not be able to have children by the time they decide to. But that might be a charitable interpretation, considering she also showed concern that many women are choosing to remain childless altogether.
I'm not saying that these statistics aren't true. They probably are. But I can't help but ask "So what?" Considering the fact that the world is already home to 7 billion people, and the fact that the Earth simply doesn't have enough resources to support that population at a standard of living comparable to what American's average, women voluntarily choosing not to have children could actually be a pretty good thing. It's certainly better than having to enact limits on children like China or just allowing an inevitable population crash caused by over population.
And even if over population weren't a pressing problem — if only we lived in such a world — I'm still left with my "So what?" question. Not all women want children. Not all women are willing to have children before they're ready even if it means getting pregnant might be difficult. No one is worrying that too many men are remaining childless. Is fatherhood somehow less important than motherhood? Or is it just that people (incorrectly) think that it's easy for men to keep fathering kids into their 50s and 60s?
Ultimately, it's disappointing that the Chief Medical Officer of England, who is a woman herself, would think that the perfectly valid choices women make for themselves are somehow a problem. True, this trend could definitely produce societal change by affecting generational dynamics and the national population, but in case no one has noticed over the past... all of recorded history, societies change all the time. Do we really want to go back to the days before birth control where women often had eight or more children? I'm going to go with no.
So what will this mean? Well, only time will tell. But whatever it is, calling it "worrying" is rather insulting.
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