Once considered a ‘given’ of adulthood, giving birth is now something many women of childbearing age are opting out of.
A November 2021 report by the Pew Research Center found that 44% of non-parents aged 18 to 49 said it was “not at all likely that they will have children someday,” and the majority of them (56%) claimed that it was just because they didn’t want to. While the lack of financial security and instability brought on by the pandemic are often cited as the most common reasons, one seemingly increasing trend is the desire to remain childfree in order to save the planet.
Kate Chapman, 51, is a life coach and Broadway performer who moved from rural Ohio to Boston in 1988 and was “absolutely gobsmacked” by the amount of people around her. To supplement her income, she would often work as a teacher or nanny. She also helped babysit the 13 children her three siblings had, and decided early on she wanted nothing to do with it:
“I calculated the amount of ‘disposable’ diapers, tiny baby food jars, discarded toys and books, ‘adorable’ outfits, strollers, and ridiculous footwear that would soon clog the landfills popping up in small towns across the ‘heartland’ I’d just left. I witnessed – firsthand – how Capitalism had blanketed itself over child rearing, and I wanted no part of it.”
“As a very young woman I vowed not to contribute to the mess being created by producing another child. I saw it as a very selfish act in our society. If I really needed to be a parent, there were thousands of foster children who needed homes. Having a child ‘of my own’ seemed more about narcissism and less about parenting.”