Another obligation

The WHO has a new plan.

Single men and women without medical issues will be classed as “infertile” if they do not have children but want to become a parent, the World Health Organisation is to announce.

In a move which dramatically changes the definition of infertility, the WHO will declare that it should no longer be regarded as simply a medical condition.

Why not just call them unwillingly childless or similar, instead of hijacking a perfectly good word that means something different?

Because hijacking the existing word will create a new right.

The authors of the new global standards said the revised definition gave every individual “the right to reproduce”.

Oh yes? Sounds like a rapists’ charter, to me.

Until now, the WHO’s definition of infertility – which it classes as a disability – has been the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex.

But the new standard suggests that the inability to find a suitable sexual partner – or the lack of sexual relationships which could achieve conception – could be considered an equal disability.

If men have a right to reproduce, that implies that women have an obligation to do the actual reproducing for them, whether they want to or not.

Dr David Adamson, one of the authors of the new standards, said: “The definition of infertility is now written in such a way that it includes the rights of all individuals to have a family, and that includes single men, single women, gay men, gay women.

“It puts a stake in the ground and says an individual’s got a right to reproduce whether or not they have a partner. It’s a big change.

“It fundamentally alters who should be included in this group and who should  have access to healthcare. It sets an international legal standard.  Countries are bound by it.”

This is a very bad idea. It ignores the drastic asymmetry – that reproduction requires the very physically demanding work of gestation and birth from a woman’s body. If men have a “right” to that then they have the right to force women to do that work. That’s not a good idea. The fact that women get pregnant is one of the roots of, or pretexts for, their subordination. If men now have a “right” to reproduce, that just subordinates women further.

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