My regular readers will know how I just love the occurrence of unintended consequences in social sciences. A while back, two professors in bio-medical ethics wrote an opinion piece in a Dutch newspaper, based on such an unintended consequence. And: it is also related to my future thesis!
With women giving birth at increasingly higher ages, an increased number of women (and often their partners) are confronted with reproductive challenges. Of course, this can be related to women increasingly choosing to postpone childbirth in order to be able to invest in their careers. Perfectly legitimate (again: of course) and a good development in many respects, but an unintended consequence of these career developments, is the increased demand for assisted reproduction.
Wybo Dondorp and Guide de Wert argue for a (partial) solution to this problem: allow women to salvage ova at early age, and freeze these for use later in the life-course. This will not solve all problems, but it would at least increase these women’s opportunities to have a ‘genetically own’ child.
But of course, it did not start with women starting to have careers, it started with women wanting to have careers. In the Netherlands, we had a group called ‘Dolle Minas’, who sought after the right for women to have more control over their fertility. Using the statement ‘Baas in Eigen Buik’ (Boss over my Belly, see photo), they argued for the availability of and right for the use of contraceptives, condoms, and abortion.
The Dolle Minas by and large succeeded in reaching their goals: society opened up for women, and more control over women’s fertility was obtained. I wonder, though, if current developments regarding the increased demand for assisted reproduction were foreseen by then.