REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE AND GENDER REVOLUTION, Dr Julie Von

 

Choice is a powerful gift. We make small choices everyday and in every moment. Most of our choices are based off our connection to what we desire, and for the most part, these choices only affect our own personal lives. 

But, what about the big choices, like parenthood? What if you choose to undertake this tremendously large choice all on your own and without a partner? 

The biological connection between a mother and child, by default, places choice into the hands of the mother. We (in general) recognize the right to choose within issues of contraception, termination and fertility medicine, but do we recognize the more controversial right to choose to have a child completely free of partnership, marriage or a broken relationship? What would it mean if the choice to become a parent became free of having to first establish a valid partnership?

I’ve been helping people get pregnant for over a decade. The general narrative is that two people– whether they be gay, straight, queer, etc.– love each other and want to create a family from this love. 

Reproductive medicine, for the most part, is impartial as to your given sexual orientation when it comes to your treatment. Essentially, if you can pay for it, you can use IVF, IUI, donor sperm and/or eggs. That’s not to say that it treats everyone equally. There are still remarkably biased remnants of patriarchal culture within the communication and care of patients. The typical patient that reproductive medicine clinics treat, after all, is a white woman in a heterosexual relationship. 

Lately though, I’ve been helping a growing number of people, who do not have partners or spouses, become pregnant. Typically these woman are in their mid 30’s to early 40’s, are financially stable and have decided to make the choice to not wait for their life partner to appear before becoming mothers. For some, the choice is related to age and fertility but for the vast majority, it is a powerful and conscious choice to leave society’s narrative about what is required to become a mother.  

The choice to become a mother without a partner is not a new phenomena, but it is one that is becoming increasingly popular. 

One of my first patients in NYC had a child via a sperm donor, in the early 1980’s. She was heterosexual and in her late 20’s at the time. She strongly believed that becoming a mother without a partner or an additional parent for her child, was a feminist act. She was a fiercely independent social justice attorney and lived in a communal type setting with several friends who, for the most part, worked within the counterculture. I recall asking her about the difficulty of raising a child on her own without a partner’s help, to which she replied, “I wanted more than anything else to be a mother, so I made a choice.”

The stigma around not knowing your biological father or being born via surrogacy is decreasing mainly due to increased dialogue within society. People who made radical choices in the decades before us navigated territory so that we could be truly liberated in our reproductive choice. Part of the opportunity within sovereign choice is to break open society’s structures and create new possible realities that reflect many different individual paths. Diversity creates strength and choice creates freedom.