As a society, we must accept that motherhood is not for everyone

By Nina Steele 

I came across this Daily Mail article the other day and it sadly corroborated the truth of how much bias there still is out there against women who choose not to have children. The story is about a young woman who has tried unsuccessfully since she was 26 (she is now 29) to be sterilised on the NHS. For readers outside the UK, NHS stands for National Health Service and the care it provides is free of charge.

According to the article, her doctor believes that she is too young to make such a drastic decision and is hoping that she will change her mind. This argument may be valid if everyone of that age was treated the same way. However, it turns out that men are treated differently. The article mentions men in their 20s and early 30s having their wish to be sterilised granted at their first request, including those without children.

According to ONS figures released in 2014, the UK still has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe. As we all know, the implications of teenagers having children are quite serious for society as a whole. From the pressure on public services to the impact on the children born to such young people. We as a society end up paying a price when these children are not given the best start in life. Yet with all this, when a woman in her late 20s with a career, makes the decision not to have children and ask to be sterilised, she is deemed not mature enough. Why?

Until recently, our welfare system was so generous to single mothers, that teenage girls were getting pregnant, so they could get a house of their own. There is something inherently wrong when society seems to ignore the wishes of a mature woman, yet will do anything to accommodate the needs of a young girl, in many cases still a child herself, has never worked in her life, and takes out of the system more than she will ever put in.

Naturally, the article has received many comments, and a recurring one is that she should pay for the procedure to be carried out privately if she is so keen on having it done. And although this argument is valid, it will only make sense if everyone who asked for the procedure was treated the same. Unfortunately there seem to be one rule for women and another for men.

It is disheartening for women to still have to justify their choices in a society that sees itself as enlightened. When will people understand that times have changed and that becoming a mother is not something that all women aspire to?

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