The Right to Bear…Children?


Whether you’re a parent or not, one thing you probably know is that babies cost a lot of money. When the baby gets here they eat all the time, shit through a billion diapers, grow out of their clothing at an astronomical rate, require all kinds of medical care and come with all kinds of cute accessories people can’t help but purchase.

Something you probably haven’t considered is the cost associated with conceiving the child in the first place. There are many Americans who cannot have a child naturally, on their own. Infertility affects about 7.3 million women in this country — about 12% of the reproductive-age population*. Fortunately, we live in a modern society where medical technology allows infertile men and women to have children if they so choose. Well, if they so choose and if they can afford it. Fertility treatments and procedures are crazy expensive.

The cost of giving birth using assisted reproduction technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) exceeds $100,000 when the probability of a live birth falls below 15 percent … The cost of IVF using donor eggs ranges from $15,000 to $25,000. The delivery rate per donor egg is approximately 51 percent at Segars’ clinic, making the cost approximately $30,000 to $49,000 per live birth. **

If you have insurance, it might not cover the procedures. Your coverage depends on where you live and the type of plan you have. Fifteen states currently have laws that require insurers to either cover or offer to cover some form of infertility diagnosis and treatment. Other than that, you’re kind of on your own. This IS America, though and we know that healthcare is a joke here. There are more than 47 million Americans without insurance.***

So what about people who cannot afford it? Should they just give up on the idea to EVER have children of their own? I remember, during my first year of law school, discussing natural rights in constitutional law. There’s a natural right to life, for example. [I understand that this could be a point where one would interject an abortion debate, but it’s not time for that.] Is there a natural right to bear children?

It has been said that one of the most natural things a human being can do it to reproduce. You can pretty much do it whenever you want. You don’t need permission to do it. People have been having kids since the beginning of time! The difficult part, though, is that as a society, our opinion of who should be able to have a child is tied to who deserves to have a child. I know that’s a bit repetitive and thus confusing. Ride with me a little longer.

See, people think that if you’re poor you ought not have kids. At some level that makes sense. I started off talking about how expensive babies are and it only gets more expensive as they grow up. Americans are concerned with public benefits and most of us get heated just thinking about so-called freeloaders while others work hard every day. As an aside, it’s unfortunate that, most people are uninformed about the realities of public benefits/welfare. The majority still sees the average welfare recipient as the archetypal “Welfare Queen” having a bunch of babies and living high on the working wo/man’s tax dollars. That’s really not an accurate picture. Just to give you some insight, the welfare payment to a single person in Pennsylvania is $203/month. Try living on THAT and tell me who is balling out. End aside.

On another level, it makes no sense to deny a person’s natural right (if you agree that it is) to choose to become a parent simply because they are in the low-income category. How unfair is that? Person A is wealthy, so they can fulfill what they believe is their natural path in life, which is to be a mother. Person B has the same feelings about motherhood but happens to work a minimum-wage job and needs food stamps to supplement her income. Person A gets to have a kid. Person B doesn’t.

We don’t deny people the right to an attorney in this country due to their income limitations because our Constitution and our Supreme Court has decided that it would be unjust to send someone into the adversarial judicial system without the assistance of a trained attorney simply because they are indigent. UNJUST. Plainly, it’s unfair. However, we don’t really attach the kind of judgment to a person who cannot afford a lawyer that we do to a poor person looking to conceive.

Being poor or low-income does not mean you cannot be a good parent. Even when it comes to terminating parental rights, the State cannot just declare your home unfit for children or accuse you of neglect if they think you have cheap furniture. If your home isn’t in the best neighborhood or your kids don’t have the nicest clothing, that doesn’t mean that you don’t care for them well or love them. Different isn’t worse.

So, is it fair to deny a low-income person the benefits of medical technology? Maybe if you consider parenthood a luxury. I mean, I certainly consider cosmetic surgery a luxury and I would not advocate for a low income person to have the right to a breast augmentation. But what if you believe that parenthood is NOT a luxury but a right? You have a right to some medical treatment, like being seen in an emergency room. Why not infertility treatments and/or drugs?

I don’t really have a definitive answer here. I just think it’s an interesting topic to discuss. Let me hear your views on the subject, if you don’t mind.


Filed under Routine Ramblings

7 responses to “The Right to Bear…Children?

  1. I’m kinda in the middle on this.

    I have an aunt who gave birth to 7 babies.
    Only 6 survived, but they grew up dirt poor.
    She had a substance abuse problem.
    Kept a filthy house.
    Didn’t ensure that the children got a good education.
    During the past few years, with only the youngest daughter in the house still… she lost the house, and had to live in a shelter for a year.

    Now, she has a house (near mine, actually) and keeps it clean and has chilled on the hard living… but it’s too late.

    All of her sons have criminal records and aren’t doing anything with their lives but making more disadvantaged babies.

    The older daughter is currently with child, and living off of her fiance.

    The younger daughter is a bit developmentally challenged due to her mothers constant coddling as a child.

    She was flagged as an unfit mother since 1979 when her oldest was born.
    But she had the right to keep popping them babies out by different fathers.

    I gotta ask: Is it right to allow someone to bring a child into a life like that? Knowing that the child will not be provided with everything it needs to grow healthily?

    It’s legal… but I don’t think it’s right.
    I think that somehow family should be able to intervene and take the child. (Which was attempted by my mother in the early 80s.)

    …but I respect peoples’ rights.

    I can’t call it.

  2. ndenise

    It’s too much of a slippery slope. Now you think that folks who are low-income should somehow be restricted from having children. Next, they’ll say immigrants shouldn’t have children. Or homosexuals. Or Black people. Wait, they already said all that.

    While it’s important to be able to provide for children, one person’s idea of “provide” differs from another’s. True, there are some basics we can all agree on: food, shelter, etc.

    In terms of kids turning out to be criminals or whatever… well that certainly isn’t limited to those born into poor families.

    Plus keep in mind, I’m talking about some people being denied the CHANCE to conceive. You could always improve your financial situation, right?

  3. Not so much the “low-income household” stuff, cause my household was low-income as well.
    I’m more or less focused on the poor parent(s) aspect…

    Like, how not having money doesn’t mean keeping a filthy home.
    My grandmother kept hers spotless raising 7 daughters on one income and welfare.

    That little bit of money coming in went to clothing and healthy food that they could afford.
    She also made sure the children made it to school on time AND instilled the value of hard work into… well, 6 of the 7. LOL

    I consider all that good parenting on a tight budget.

    But I understand the whole “chance to conceive” thing…
    I was never worried about poor folks churning out babies and becoming a burden on the taxpayer.
    I mean… broke people love each other and they do thangs (BOW CHICKA BOW WOW) and 38 weeks later, here comes baby.

    If they’re gonna love the baby and raise it well? That’s awesome, yo.
    Some of the best people in the world came from humble beginnings. (No promo.)

    My thing is neglectful parents.

    I wish they could be prevented from bringing any more children in the world until they get their acts in order.

    I dunno how the hell that could be accomplished in a humane manner, and it’s prolly impossible… but I hate seeing it and hearing stories about these children going through it daily just to survive.

    I believe in them having reproductive rights like everyone else.
    I just wanna see parents put more care into raising the babies, yo.

    I’ve always thought that parenting skills should be taught in high schools as a requirement, seeing as how you have teenage mothers and fathers and all.

    (My responses be all over the place, yo.
    I need to take a writing course or something, LOL)

  4. ndenise

    Do you think you can identify a “poor parent” before they go half on them chromosomes? Like HOW would you go about it? WHO would be in charge of it? Could a person get off the “do not conceive” list? See how crazy this sounds.

  5. Nah. LOL I mean… you can’t tell beforehand.
    Some of the most irresponsible people I knew growing up are excellent parents today.

    I’m more thinking about the ones who have one child and don’t show that they are good parents. Those are the ones that I’d suggest not make anymore munchkins until they get right.

    I’m aware you can’t form a organization to keep tabs on this, but I think this really needs to take place at the family level. Friends and neighbors, even.

    It’d be decent of people to step up and call someone on it if they aren’t doing right.

    I dunno, yo.
    *sticks to drawing pictures*

  6. djtriptych

    Are clinically depressed people denied their right to the pursuit of happiness? Are mutes denied freedom of speech?

    12% of women naturally can’t reproduce. To me, this fact basically makes infertility a health issue, and in this country we have no right to good health.

    Of course, REMOVING the ability of people to reproduce would fall under the discussion of natural law. I find that natural law generally covers negative rights, with positive rights left to positive law.

    Providing an infertile person the ability to reproduce is clearly a positive right, and it’s rare that those inalienable, natural rights actually obligate the government to DO anything on your behalf. The government may not deprive you of life, but it is not, in most cases, required to save your life.

    The positive rights that Americans DO have, such as education, tend to be those that, without which, one would be unable to function in society. It’s easy to argue that it’s impossible to function in society, let alone be subject to our legal system, if you can’t read, or are having a heart attack. Not so simple to argue that you are less a member of society if you are biologically childless.

  7. Yeah.

    *draws in the margins*

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