Photo credit: Supreme Court Pediment by Flickr.com user Kevin Harber

Less Mentioned in "More"

Keeping a book short is no easy task, especially on a set of topics as complex and controversial as population and the reproductive intentions of women. Now that I’m discussing my latest book, More, widely, and the publication is gaining some reviews (such as this one in The Washington Post), I’m developing a list of topics I hope to develop further if I ever write the sequel. The title could be More More, or maybe even More, Longer More. Many points that some readers feel I’ve missed are actually in the book, though perhaps not highlighted or explored in depth as much as people would like. That’s the case with the topic of individual consumption of natural resources, which I discussed in an earlier blog (“All Consuming Question,” June 6). And I do make the point clearly (as have some reviewers and questioners) that many women aren’t able to use contraception at all because of social pressure from their partners and others in their lives. By contrast, some topics could use more attention in a future treatment of this linkage. Among those I’m making notes on are:
  • The desire of many women to have large families, and the need some have felt throughout history to enhance their fertility, not suppress it. I acknowledge in More the diversity of childbearing intentions among women, and point out that what matters to overall population outcomes is average fertility, not that of any particular woman or group. But the persistence of reported high desired fertility among many women is worth exploring in more detail. I’d like to try to tease out what is personal and what is social (and possibly socially pressured) in women’s frequently expressed hopes for having many children in some societies.
  • The related issue of infecundity—the inability to bear or father a child that is (commonly called infertility, though technically this term means simply having no children.) Should couples or individual women who would like to conceive and bear a child, but who have had difficulty in doing so get help from societies and governments (a measure that I support for women who want to postpone and prevent pregnancy?).
  • The ways that men often support rather than undermine women’s reproductive intentions and strategies. An earlier draft of More had a longer section on contemporary male involvement in reproduction and its importance, and I’d like to dig further into that topic.
  • The importance of sexuality education. This is a critical component of healthy and intentional reproduction that deserves much more attention. The recent news story about a spate of teen pregnancies in Gloucester, Mass., serves as a sad reminder of the high cost of blindness to young people’s need for sound information about sex and reproduction as well as access to safe and effective contraceptive options.
I may deal with some of these points in future blog posts. It’s hard to say, after all, whether or when More More will ever see the light of day.