Friday, 8 February 2013

Rights and responsibilities

1.     An element of a culture or behavior that may be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation.
2.     An image, video, etc. that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.

Some memes I see on the internet are great, they raise a smile and pass on. The one I saw today on Facebook might on the surface seem quite nice:

"I am a mother, my children were a gift and not a right"

And yet it hurt. As someone who spent many years thinking I might never have children you could say I have a chip on my shoulder, but bear with me while I pick this apart....

Merriam-Webster on line dictionary defines 'gift' with the 3 following meanings  (

1: a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
2: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation
3: the act, right, or power of giving 

A gift once given is owned by you. I do not own my children. Furthermore it is not a 'talent' for a child to be born, they have absolutely no say in the matter

Gifts are free; therefore something you have to pay for is not a gift. So if my children were a gift then the fertility treatment would have been free. It wasn’t. And it certainly isn't free on the NHS because a) the NHS is paid for by National Insurance contributions and b) you are VERY lucky if you qualify for fertility treatment on the NHS. 

If children are a gift to be given then I feel the inference is that there is a higher power that decides whether or not to give children to us. I have yet to find any evidence of a higher power (that's why I'm an atheist) and so I also reject this idea of children as gifts but if there is a god why allow children to be born into famine or war zones?  If we agree instead that with or with out a higher power to direct us man and woman have free will then why are people even in the most dire of circumstance still deciding to become parents? Is it really a choice or is it because there is a huge biological imperative that drives us to procreate?

The World Health Organization does recognise infertility as a disease of the reproductive system. In the UK NICE recommends that the NHS should fund treatment for infertility because children are not just good for a successful nation, they are essential to it. The economic benefit that one child brings to the country is not outweighed by the huge costs of even 3 rounds of IVF.     

So it could be considered that someone in the UK eligible for NHS treatment might have a right to IVF, yet that in of itself is not a right to have children.

If children were a ‘right’ we would allow them to stay with continually abusive parents. A responsible society doesn’t do that, they support the family to help improve the parenting and if that doesn’t work ultimately they remove the children from that situation and hopefully find them a new family who will respect, love and care for them.

Children are neither gift nor a right; they are a huge, awesome responsibility.

I would prefer a meme that said:

Anybody could become a parent but it takes time, responsibility and determination to earn the title Mummy or Daddy.

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