News and Noteworthy


Sterile fantasies

Young people are clueless about how quickly their fertility ebbs away

by Nicole M. King for Mercatornet.com on February 8, 2017

Melinda Gates: “Like most women I know, I have used contraceptives for many years.”

The News Story: Want to Empower Women Worldwide? Give Them Access to Contraceptives

“Like most women I know, I have used contraceptives for many years,” Melinda Gates wrote for National Geographic last week. She and her husband’s decisions about if and when to get pregnant were “made based on what was right for me and what was right for our family.”


But not all women are so “lucky,” Gates continues to say. “There are still over 225 million women around the world who don’t have access to the modern contraceptives they need to make these decisions for themselves.” To remedy this problem, Gates co-chaired a global summit in 2012 that brought together leaders from around the world to commit to a goal of getting 120 million more women access to modern contraceptives by the year 2020. So far, that initiative is failing—at the halfway point in 2016, only 24 million additional women had received the life-changing miracle drugs that Gates so praises.

One thing that Gates leaves out of the discussion of the wonders of modern family planning is what happens when biology doesn’t cooperate with family plans. And in a recent study of yet another dying Western nation with exactly the type of access that Gates wants, researchers found that the contraceptive mentality can so infiltrate our mindsets that we ignore reality. Perhaps we should pause before we eagerly hand out the pills around the globe.

(Sources: Melinda Gates, “Opinion: Want to Empower Women Worldwide? Give Them Access to Contraceptives,” National Geographic, February 3, 2017.)

The New Research: Sterile Fantasies

Affiliated with Denmark’s Copenhagen University, Metropolitan University, and Zealand University, the authors of a new study probe young Danes’ understanding of reproductive biology in large part because of their concern about the number of young people in Western countries, including their own, who are delaying parenthood—often until well into their 30s.

Inevitably, fertility delayed often translates into fertility denied. The authors of the new study understandably highlight delayed parenthood as a reason for the “decline in total fertility rate (TFR) [that] has been seen in OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries, where the average TFR dropped from 2.7 to 1.7” between 1970 and 2009. With a Total Fertility Rate now at 1.69, Denmark appears quite typical of affluent Western nations with fertility well below the Zero Population Growth level of 2.1 lifetime births per woman.

Beyond the social and economic issues inherent in the sub-replacement fertility it fosters, postponed parenthood brings a number of other troubling problems. The authors of the new study point out that “higher maternal age is . . . associated with an increase in pregnancy-related complications and adverse outcome in the offspring such as prematurity and foetal death” and that higher paternal age predicts an increased risk of “pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage.” Twenty-first-century medicine does give couples who have delayed parenthood the option of medically assisted reproduction (MAR), but the Danish researchers stress that “the biological decline in fertility by advanced parental age cannot fully be compensated for by MAR, and consequently society as a whole is affected.” What is more, the researchers worry about “the psychological strain of undergoing fertility treatment,” giving as a reason for particular concern a Finish study finding an alarmingly high rate of psychiatric hospitalization among women whose MAR treatment had not resulted in childbirth.

Given the negative consequences of delayed parenthood for fertility and pregnancy, the authors of the new study regard it as desirable to determine whether “general lack of fertility knowledge, including the age-related decline in fertility, may also be a central and contributing factor.” To determine the level of fertility knowledge among young Danes, the researchers surveyed 517 male and female students enrolled at the Metropolitan University College in Copenhagen. The data collected from these students intensified rather than allayed concerns about whether young Danes delaying parenthood really understand the consequences.

Overall, the researchers find that the young Danes they surveyed “generally lacked knowledge on fertility issues,” with “no substantial differences between the two genders.” This lack of knowledge about fertility surfaces on a number of matters. For instance, most of the young Danes surveyed did not realize how soon and how markedly a woman’s fertility declines. The Danish researchers report that “half of both genders thought a slight age-related decline in female fertility has its onset beyond the age of 30 years (correct answer: 25–29 years).” Even more fundamental misunderstanding appears among the “more than 35% [of students surveyed who] believed that a marked decrease [in female fertility] does not occur until 40 years of age (correct answer: 35–39 years).” Astonishingly, more than 10% of the Danish students surveyed believed that a marked decline in fertility does not occur until age 45!

Ignorance about natural fertility among the Danish students was matched by their ignorance about possibilities of Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR): the researchers report that the success rate of MAR was “grossly overestimated” by both male and female students: “the majority [of the students surveyed in this study] . . . overestimated the probability of achieving a child from IVF treatment,” with 55% of males and 69% of students pegging the probability too high, many of them quite markedly too high. (The actual success rate for MAR runs less than 30%.)

The Danish researchers see this unfortunate situation manifest in “other studies [that] have time and again found similar limited knowledge [about fertility] among university students” in Europe and the United States. The researchers find this widespread ignorance of fundamental fertility issues to be “of particular concern, as a sizable percentage of [young people] intend to have their last child at the age of 35 years or older, whe[n] a marked decline in female fertility is a reality.”

With good reasons, the Danish scholars fear that “both men and women are making the decision to postpone parenthood without being aware of possible consequences.” The authors of this new study call for measures “to increase knowledge and awareness of reproductive health” among young people. Unfortunately, among young people for whom parenthood has become a secondary or even tertiary priority—whether in Copenhagen, Cairo, Cape Town, or Calgary—desire for such knowledge may yield to stronger desire for illusions.

(Source: Bryce Christensen and Nicole M. King, forthcoming in “New Research,” The Natural Family 31.1 [2017]. Study: Nina Olsén Sørensen et al., “Fertility Awareness and Attitudes towards Parenthood among Danish University College Students,” Reproductive Health 13 [2016]: 146, Web.)

Nicole M. King is the Managing Editor of The Family in America. Republished from The Family in America, a MercatorNet partner site, with permission.



Long and Winding Road out of the gay lifestyle: a story of forgiveness

The headline over at LifeSiteNews says this is a story out of the gay lifestyle. And so it it. But it is first and foremost an inspiring story of forgiveness and repentance. Any Survivor of the Sexual Revolution, any person seeking peace, can benefit from this article. 

A sample: 

 

I embarked upon an incredible journey of forgiveness, having many people from my past, and especially men, that I needed to forgive. The therapy and prayer sessions I now regularly engaged in never focused solely on my being sexually attracted to men, but I was encouraged to look every aspect of my present and past in the eye. This included the painful process of accepting that I had been consistently sexually abused by a number of men as a child over a three-year period.

Much of my spiritual journey became concerned with recognizing where, during my infancy and childhood, my little soul had chosen to build walls within myself against significant others in my life, especially against my parents, siblings and other prominent people from my past.

He faced the wrong that was done to him (child sexual abuse) and at the same time took responsibility for the ways he had built walls around himself. Eventually, he became able to forgive those who had wronged him. 

Survivors of all sorts: please study this! 


 


Single Mothers by Choice

Are any of you single mothers, raised by a single mother, or have friends or family members who are single mothers?

Are any of you Donor Conceived?

Many Danish women have given up on finding the right man and are opting to raise children on their own through donor conception.

What do you think of that? Good idea or bad idea?

Can you relate to their difficulties in finding the right man?

Do you think they should be patient and just keep looking, or not fight the biological clock?

This article appeared in Mercatornet.com on September 18, 2015.

Image from The Huffington Post

I just read an article in The Guardian about how more Danish women are opting to become single mothers via sperm donation, and now I feel a little sad. Because while I think the author wanted to make it sound like an upbeat, promising and independent-women trend, too many lines give away the fact that it is actually not a good time, so to speak.


But first some background: since 2007 in Denmark, from when single women have been offered free fertility treatment, there has been a huge increase in single mothers by choice (known as “solomor”). Now, one in 10 babies conceived with donor sperm is born to a single mother, which says a lot in a country which has the highest number of births by assisted fertility treatment in the world. And it seems that the trend is so present that the stigma is supposedly starting to shift.

Now usually I’d have to voice my opinion in my own words, but this article just gives away all the sad stuff. Here are some excerpts and my thoughts:

It’s a last resort decision

The majority say that becoming a solomor was Plan B,” says Lone Schmidt, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen Department of Public Health: “Two thirds had been in a relationship and wanted to become pregnant but their partners weren’t ready… In other words, women are waiting it out, and when it becomes clear that there isn’t going to be a man in the picture, they’re taking action themselves.

No one dreams of being a solo parent. As one interviewee in the article admitted, after her partner at the time didn’t want children, she thought about adoption (too long and expensive), having a baby with a friend (too complicated) and one-night stands (that would be stealing sperm) before deciding on donor conception. And why is it a last resort? I think it’s because we all intrinsically know that the most ideal, and least complex, situation for a child to come into the world is in the natural way - with a mother and father who love each other.

Who needs men anyway?

Everyone I talked to was really supportive, apart from my dad who found the idea weird at first – as though it was negating the role of ‘fatherhood’.

My dad was funny about me using a donor at first – he’s from an older generation and I think it made him feel a bit redundant, as a man.

I find it interesting that more than one interviewee’s father had a problem with the whole solomor situation. Because to be honest, anything that makes a whole gender redundant seems unnatural, doesn’t it? However, the dads in question make a very valid point. Yes, there are irreversible situations where a father is no longer present, but overall a world without present fathers would not be a good one. There are so many studies that show the importance of a father in their child’s life, and I hope anything else is never in style.

On the flip-side, the solomor trend commodifies men. In a subtle but sure way, it reduces them to their sperm.

The child’s needs come last

“I’d still love to meet someone and give my little girl a dad. For me, a father is so much more than a blob of sperm. A father is someone who makes the lunch boxes, says, ‘Good morning,’ and kisses good night. He’s the one who is always there for the child during its upbringing. I just haven’t met him yet.”

“Of course, the children of solomor may face other issues – like not knowing the identity of their donors. But Golombok’s research suggests that this needn’t be a problem if they’re told about how they were conceived early enough.”

Right, because learning about your conception nice and early will void all need of a father and replace the paternal role. And having a new dad will make you stop wondering about your biological father. Unfortunately, I don’t think so.

Yes, the solomor concept does present a better situation financially than a single mother who is not so by choice, and I think the women feel that they’re doing the right thing. But still, I find it somewhat selfish. A defenseless child’s needs should come first, whereas this sounds like it’s all about what’s convenient for the mothers in question.

Difficulties of assisted fertility

One thing that wasn’t mentioned is the difficulty and trials of fertility treatment. The article makes it sound so easy breezy to get pregnant this way, but from what I know, it’s invasive and can often take multiple attempts. And I’d assume there’d be quite a lot of stress and anxiety throughout the process.

We can see the consequences of other unhealthy trends

My child won’t have a father,” says Christensen, “but lots of people grow up without a dad - my parents divorced when I was five. You never know how life will turn out.

I’d always dreamed of having three or four kids but the man I was in a relationship with in my 30s wasn’t ready. I met other men who mostly seemed to be interested in their careers – or their PlayStations – so I began to lose faith. I wasn’t anti men: I adore men! I just couldn’t find one who wanted kids. I saw lots of friends choose to become pregnant with boyfriends they knew wouldn’t last – purely because the desire to have a child took over. I also saw ‘traditional’ families breaking up all around me, so I thought, ‘Maybe I should just make this happen on my own.’

These quotes, clear as day, show how other unhealthy trends have led to this. The first is divorce: it’s so common that people don’t realise the importance of two present parents; and everyone seems to assume it’ll happen anyway. What a sad way to be living! And the other trend: “man boys,” or men that don’t seem to ever grow up. Because as we now see, women are getting sick of waiting and are taking matters into their own hands, with potentially negative consequences.