Whenever a story about large families hits the headlines there comes with it the usual assumptive, often quite incorrect and generally ignorant comments and opinions. Authoratitively spoken presumptions are made either admonishing the parents who must obviously force the older children to raise the younger ones, or for pitying the poor children who must undoubtedly spend every waking moment vying for attention, and oh yes, don’t forget the oh-so-very-scary overpopulation debate.
One perpetual statement which echoes from some never fails to amuse me. It comes in different forms yet still it says the same thing.
‘But why?’ they ask.
‘But why does she have so many children?’
‘Doesn’t she know she doesn’t have to keep having children?’
‘Haven’t they heard of birth control?’
‘How stupid is she?! Those days are long gone! Doesn’t she know she doesn’t need to have all these kids any more?’
‘Someone tell her she has a choice!’
‘There is a solution to stopping,.’
‘She should keep her legs shut.’
‘Get a TV.’
‘Woman fought for the right to free themselves from babies. Nobody does this any more.’
‘She should be sterilised.’
Pro-life isn’t an argument they understand or even want to. ‘You can be pro-life without having all those kids.’
Then let me agree with them.
Let’s agree that it’s pro-choice.
Whilst I am aware that birth control exists my choice – for my own reasons – is not to use it.
Whilst I am aware that I could have stopped at two children, or maybe even had none at all, my choice was to have more.
Whilst I am aware that my family size isn’t for everyone and is certainly something unusual in today’s age, my choice is to not concern myself about being unconventional.
Whilst I am aware that I do not need ‘all those children’, I love and wanted every single one of them. I chose to have them.
Regardless of what society, feminists, birth contral advocates, pro-choicers – even some family members – tell me I don’t need to to ‘put myself through’, the right to have children is mine. My body, my choice. Isn’t that the drum?
Evidently, these outspoken promoters of ‘choice’ are missing the point.
Choice is something made up of two or more options.
All comments and those like them are promoting birth control. They are advocating limiting family size. They claim they are supporting a woman’s right to choose.
A woman’s right to choose not to have children, that is.
Choice isn’t just about the right to prevent a pregnancy or to stop one already underway.
Choice isn’t just about the right not to have a child because of how it might negatively impact a woman’s life.
Choice isn’t just about deciding when or if to have a child and believing it is all completely within my control.
Choice isn’t about doing what someone else thinks I ought to do because there are ways to stop ‘it’. The option to prevent or terminate is now available to me, whereas I might have been excused for my family size fifty years ago when it wasn’t. But why on earth would I want to have so many children in this day and age?
Because I want to.
Because I decided to.
Because it is my choice.
I am promoting my right to have them.
After all, it’s all about choice.