Friday, 24 April 2015

Whose Choice is it?- Vidushi Rastogi

I have a womb and I might not want to fill it,
I could have an emotion but I might not want to feel it.
I might seek a path that has no destination,
I might want to live a life that has no obligation.

I have been writing itsy bitsy articles about the repercussions of resting all the rights (or not)  of bearing a child with the woman. I never found it more compelling to be vocal about this, before I read a paparazzi article about Rick Salomon accusing his partner and popular celebrity Pamela Anderson to have undergone abortions without knowledge of her partners. Truth to this allegation seems to be slim as it comes as a backlash after her restraining order against him. However it has reignited the age-old issue – what is the purview of right of a man to father a child?
This question is becoming more and more overt as women are becoming self aware and career oriented. Even in developing South Asian countries like India, there is rise in women deciding to stay childfree at least in metropolitan demographics. Recently an Indian girl, Indhuja made a website for her matrimonial alliance in which she has bluntly stated her choice of staying child free. The webpage went viral and even garnered positive response. And very recently a video filmed by Homi Adjania for Vogue Empower, featuring Indian actress Deepika Padukone asserts that it is a woman’s choice to bear a child or not. The keyword is ‘choice’. It is not a moral or biological obligation anymore and her partner should let her have a say in this.
Ideally bearing a child should be a couple’s decision but in a situation where woman has conceived and doesn’t want to carry it, while her partner wants to father the child, what should be the stance of the woman or the man? It is a paradoxical situation where religious, societal and ethical values govern individual decisions. The woman may argue that it is her body, which has to nurture the fetus and feed the infant. She has to undergo all the physical and emotional changes. The man may argue that nature waiving off all the physical responsibility of bearing a child from him, should not mean that he is the lesser parent. He also undergoes emotional changes and can equally share the responsibility of raising an infant. Since women have a womb and men don’t, it is relatively easy to be biased towards women though it is not fully just.
Staying child free must not be an individual decision. And abortion certainly should not be one. Since conceiving a child requires both the partners, the choice of opting out bringing forth a progeny should also be their mutual decision. The ideal scenario would be to arrive at an understanding at the very beginning of the relationship, but should conflict arise later, the resolution should be arrived at jointly by both  stakeholders. It is however debatable whether religion and/or society are stakeholders or not.
It could not emphasized more that it is time that the choice of a woman to not bear a child should be respected and childless couples should not be biased against in society. The human society as a whole is becoming more accommodative of alternate choices and this how  civilizations thrive.