Mariette Ulrich

Opinion

Childless by choice - a decision you may live to regret

Mariette Ulrich
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October 1, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - When it comes to major life decisions, who in his right mind wouldn’t choose what sounded like more fun and less work? This, according to one observer, is the rationale behind a new trend in Canada: childlessness. Says Joe O’Connor in a recent National Post op-ed:

Imagine a scenario where, on a Friday night, after running around like a beheaded chicken at work all week you get home, smooch the person you love, grab a glass of wine and enjoy the silence, the blissful quietude of being a committed and adoring couple — without kids.

Indeed. No great effort of imagination is required, and, while not agreeing with his overall these-folks-are-just-plain-selfish tone, I do think Mr O’Connor has put his finger on a real problem. Between the pressures of work and the possibilities for self-indulgence today’s couples could very easily decide that there is no room in their lives for children.

It’s not exactly news that western nations are in demographic freefall, but the statistics are never pleasant to contemplate. Canada’s latest batch of 2011 census numbers shows that nearly half of Canadian couples (44.5 percent) are “without children”.

Of course the stats are skewed somewhat by the inclusion of Boomer empty-nesters: people who have children that are not living in their household. And we know that smaller families are a long-term trend. However, University of Calgary sociologist Kevin McQuillan confirms that there is a new element, “a turning away by couples from having children, period.”

Maybe more like an exclamation mark: the in-your-face “childless by choice” meme has been around for decades, though I was sheltered from it in my home town, where five kids was considered a small family. I recall being surprised and disconcerted by society’s anti-child mentality as a university student and then a naïve young mum in the 1980s; now, not so much. I just like to sit back and savour the irony.

O’Connor cites one childless woman who told the Post: “The benefits of not having children are in the driveway, in our closet and stamped on our passports. Kids are expensive.”

And spending lavishly on yourself isn’t? They don’t teach logic in school anymore, do they? And they don’t need to teach “me first’ or “the path of least resistance”, since it is simply imbibed from the environment these days. Do it if it feels good; do it if it’s convenient; avoid suffering at all costs.

It was not always thus. As O’Connor says, “Having children used to be the point of being a pair. It was the great aspiration — along with finding love everlasting — a biological impulse to go forth and multiply and, later, once your babies reached a certain age, to cajole them about the merits and benefits of doing their bit to join the ranks of parenthood while giving Mom and Dad some grandkids.”

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His inclusion of biology scores a point for natural law: since human reproduction is natural, it is therefore natural to desire children. Yet clearly, some couples do not. What has occurred to thwart this desire? O’Connor’s curious choice of the biblical phrase “go forth and multiply” hints at the (not insignificant) spiritual motive that inspired earlier generations. Linked with this was a sense of a larger duty to society, which he evokes with his “doing their bit” remark.

It would be unwise to argue that all people have a duty to reproduce; in the past, society depended on some people remaining single to care for the elderly and orphans and to dedicate themselves completely to service professions and the arts. Furthermore, parenthood is a vocation that goes with marriage, and not all people who feel called, so to speak, are successful in finding a mate. Others seem eminently unsuited to raising children.

Today, many young people are infected with the mentality of doomsayers, environmental or otherwise, who argue the polar opposite of the reproductive imperative: that humans have an obligation to become extinct in order to save Mother Earth—for what, we’re not sure. These people might argue that it’s possible to have a child for quite selfish reasons.

Still, as O’Connor suggests, we have a society that provides many temptations to self indulgence and few incentives for the sacrifices demanded by raising children: “Gone are diaper changes and ballet classes, replaced by hot yoga and shopping trips to New York City.”

In other words, life without kids is a never-ending joyride. Now we enter the realm of myth, which is also where I would place the contention that life with children is overwhelmingly stressful, exhausting, expensive and heartbreaking. Or that (horror of horrors) having babies makes you old, frumpy and fat.

In fact, time makes you old, gluttony makes you fat, and apathy and neglect make you frumpy. I can only speak for moms, but lots of us have moved beyond Ma Kettle; maybe it’s time popular culture kept pace. Skating with your six kids at the local rink is not only every bit as physically invigorating as hot yoga, it’s also better for the economy.

But even if the childless ones don’t mind economic meltdown (and with it the social safety-net state), perhaps they might be invited to reconsider their opinions out of sheer self-interest. O’Connor concludes with a memento mori: “[W]hat will become of those … folks when decrepitude inevitably creeps in; when they age, as we all inevitably do, and the children they chose not to have aren’t around to look after them?”

He might have added the following, but since he didn’t, I will. Imagine a scenario where, on a Sunday afternoon, you sit idly for interminable hours slumped in your wheelchair in the tiny and stifling nursing home bedroom, which, due to overcrowding, you share with a cantankerous roommate. (Thank heaven she’s in the lounge for her weekly visit with her family!)

You think wistfully of your husband, now long departed. You begin to cry and your nose starts to run. You’d like a tissue, but you are tired and haven’t the strength to wheel yourself to the bedside table. Your diaper is wet, but you know the aide won’t be around for another 45 minutes. You know it is pointless to call for help; the home is chronically understaffed (you’re not sure why).

Enjoy the silence, the blissful quietude as you remember being part of a committed and adoring couple — without kids.

Mariette Ulrich writes from western Canada. She blogs on Family Edge. This article reprinted under a Creative Commons License.



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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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