Since the dawn of time, women have had their lives built around the day they would start bearing children. And apparently now that more women are opting to not have children by choice, Americans aren't having any of it.
Okay, I am exaggerating a bit. According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number of American women without children has nearly doubled since 1976 - nearly one in five, compared to one in 10. Women at the highest education levels continue to be the most likely to never have a child, but the numbers are falling. In 2008, 24 percent of childbearing age women with graduate educations had not had children - a 7 percent decline since 1994.
Childless rates have risen for women of color, for married women and for unmarried women. The latter category continues to be a group more likely not to have children.
But perhaps the most astounding result from the study is that 38 percent of Americans believe that this increase of childlessness trend is bad for society. This is a nearly 10 percent increase from 2007.
All I can say is - seriously?
Childlessness is not an epidemic. It isn't a reflection of moral character. It's a result of women's lives having changed since 1976 and having different factors be key in deciding whether or not to have children. Career planning has become more of a priority for many women. Cultural expectations may have shifted for some women. Women may be waiting to have children and then find that they are unable to become pregnant.
But above all, it seems like much of the pressure and expectation surrounding women to have children has decreased. Women may not define success, accomplishment, or a family as having children. After all, while 38 percent have something to say about childlessness, nearly half of Americans said it makes no difference to the character of society whether or not women are having more or less children.
The decision to have a child or not have a child is a huge part of the reproductive justice movement. Instead of focusing on whether or not women are having children and ruining the moral fiber of society, we should be focused on providing the best resources, care and support for women so that they can make a decision about children when they are ready.