In which Ms. Gordon is entirely wrong

Children aren’t commodities, and families should not be seen as toy sets, uncompleted until you have all the different figurines. When someone spends £30,000 flying to New York to select the sex of their next child, they aren’t choosing life. They are choosing a lifestyle. And that is very different.

Actually, ever since we said as a society that whether to have a child or not, whether to take a pregnancy to term or to coathanger it, was entirely and absolutely only the potential mother\’s decision, ever since then children have indeed been a commodity.

Once the pass has been sold then it is sold you see. Once the life or not decision depends upon what some other wants then there\’s no reason at all why that want should not be determined by the desires over gender, eye colour, height, freckles or any other triviality. Societally we already agree that a club foot or hare lip is a sufficient reason for execution. Why not extend that to being ginger? Or male?

14 comments on “In which Ms. Gordon is entirely wrong

  1. It can be comforting to see things in black and white, but I think most of life is a bit more nuanced than that.

  2. Actually, ever since we said as a society that whether to have a child or not, whether to take a pregnancy to term or to coathanger it, was entirely and absolutely only the potential mother’s decision, ever since then children have indeed been a commodity.

    Actually, Tim, you’re out in your timing by several thousands, if not tens of thousands of years. What is marriage if not an outgrowth of the commodification of children?

  3. Unity, no children I take it ? Marriage, a commodification of children, sounds like a rather sad point of view, facile and easy to roll off the tongue though.

    Perhaps there are other cultures that take a less cynical and blinkered view of the value of offspring.

  4. Unity – like many millions of others, I am married with no children.
    Cannot think of anyone I know who got married due to children. How is marriage, in whatever form, an outgrowth of commodification of children when children and marriage are nothing to do with each other?

  5. Leaving aside the question of whether it’s the mother’s decision only – let’s say we’re talking about a loving couple who would never go through with a termination unless they agreed – Tim is absolutely right, and all you see here is technology catching up with decisions made long ago.

    100 years ago – “there’s a heart beat, the baby is alive.

    Somewhere in between – ultrasound shows your baby has a serious heart defect, do you really want to carry it to term?

    Later – Down’s Syndrome test shows positive, your decision?

    Now – did you want a boy or a girl?

    Future – Would you like dimples with that?

    Welcome to the slippery slope everyone. This falls into the category of “we’ve established what you are, now we’re just haggling over price”.

  6. What you can do at the start of life can be done at the end of life.
    Taking up wanted space but not rich – exeunt.
    Youf would approve.

  7. Having read some of her stuff, I hesitate to dissent from the suggestion that Ms Gordon is entirely wrong. But these slippery-slope arguments are unsound. Just because a slope is slippery doesn’t mean you can’t anchor yourself at the top of it. Just because you’re willing to do something in some extreme circumstances doesn’t mean you have to do it always.

    And, incidentally, pre-implantation screening of embryos is not the same as abortion.

    And we have never “said as a society that whether to have a child or not, whether to take a pregnancy to term or to coathanger it, was entirely and absolutely only the potential mother’s decision”. You can read the text of the Abortion Act here

  8. There’s nothing new about viewing children as commodities. If anything its the modern world that allows us to to do differently.

    In the past children have always been an economic trade-off, spend resources to raise them now and be able to include them as net producers in the household’s industry later and as a source of support for your old age.

    Its only now that people in wealthy countries can afford to have children simply for the joy of raising them. And you know what? A lot of people choose to forgo those pleasures (as evidenced by declining populations growth rates even as the chance of survival for children has skyrocketed).

  9. Ed/Martin,

    At least Agamammon got what I was driving at –

    In the past children have always been an economic trade-off, spend resources to raise them now and be able to include them as net producers in the household’s industry later and as a source of support for your old age.

    And children have also been traded by way of marriage in order to cement familial alliances, consolidate property rights, etc.

    Having kids for their own sake – or choosing not to – really is a very modern innovation when viewed in terms of the full sweep of our species’ history.

  10. Its only now that people in wealthy countries can afford to have children simply for the joy of raising them. And you know what? A lot of people choose to forgo those pleasures…

    Pleasures?!!!

  11. Unity – there are a considerable number who cannot have kids for whatever reason. You are still linking marriage and kids when kids and marriage are not the same.
    In some places marriage has been about alliance, property, wealth – and indeed has usually waited until the children are not children any more. By the local definition of ‘child’. Thats adults choosing based on family advantage rather than the chaos of love or hormones, in relation to other adults (again by local definition).
    Here now we have ‘adult’ defined as a certain age. Different ages in different countries, in the past it has been about actions or ceremonies too.

    I find it rather amusing that someone can equate marriage and children together. Like every child has been conceived by a married couple….

  12. Unity, really, then I disagree. One may, under duress, treat children in purely economic terms, but I believe that you malign our ancestors if you think that is all they were capable of.

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