The right to reject pregnancy

The political grip on female reproductive rights stems from the social expectation that women produce children.

Zoe Qian

The political grip on female reproductive rights stems from the social expectation that women produce children.

Women have won the right to vote and make an income. There have been women in space. A woman is now Vice President of the United States! But society still clutches onto an unreasonable demand for women to give birth.

     The ingrained social expectation for women to bear children has resulted in unfair reproductive rights, especially when it comes to preventing pregnancies.

     Among many reasons, reproductive rights continue to be a contentious topic in the fight for gender equality because of the extensive toll pregnancies take on both one’s social and personal life. The effects of carrying children on one’s mental health and physical condition often extend past the period of pregnancy, and the ability to impact whether pregnancy occurs at all is a substantial measure of control. 

     Preventing pregnancy by undergoing sterilization surgery is often an unnecessary struggle. It’s possible that the hesitancy to perform sterilization surgery on women is due to the fact that it’s less reversible than a vasectomy. However, doctors may also assume that women are less prepared than men for permanent sterilization or will come to regret it, imparting their personal opinions on what should be a professional interaction. 

      25-year-old Abby Ramsay, who spent six years pursuing sterilization surgery, said in an interview with pop culture magazine Bored Panda, “There’s this idea that there’s some internal biological clock that women have, and it could go off at any moment and you’ll change your mind. The belief that if you just go through with it and have the baby that maternal instinct will kick in and magically fix everything. That it is what a woman is supposed to do for humanity, or God, or society.”

     When women assert that they don’t want children, parents often shake their heads patronizingly and essentially tell them that younger people don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s a notable parallel between this behavior and that of the aforementioned doctors who believe their lifestyle choices should apply to their female patients. 

     Children, especially girls, shouldn’t grow up exposed to the idea that having children is necessary or inevitable. This idea, while seemingly harmless, contributes to the loss of women’s reproductive rights by normalizing the idea of their intrinsic maternal instinct. 

     This isn’t to say that there should be no conversation around childbirth. There are indeed benefits to having children, such as fulfilling a personal vision of a family or contributing to the economy, to name a couple. However, the current widespread mentality that having children is essential can become codified into legislation like the Texas Heartbeat Act, which commenced on Sept. 1, 2021, and bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

     In addition to actively participating in elections and voting for political representatives who will keep reproductive equality in mind, we can strive for greater reproductive rights by remembering that women should have the right to choose whether their future includes children or not.