Author: Michigan State University
Author Contact: msu.edu
Published: 26th Jul 2022 - Updated: 5th Jan 2023
Peer-Reviewed Publication: Yes
Additional References: LGBT Adolescents Publications
Summary: Overturning Roe v. Wade may have far-reaching implications for many people as a research team found over one in five adults do not want children.
Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States conferred the right to have an abortion. The decision struck down many federal and state abortion laws, and fueled an ongoing abortion debate in the United States about whether, or to what extent, abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, and what the role of moral and religious views in the political sphere should be. On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overruled Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on the grounds that the substantive right to abortion was not "deeply rooted in this Nation's history or tradition", nor considered a right when the Due Process Clause was ratified in 1868, and was unknown in U.S. law until Roe. The decision was supported and opposed by the anti-abortion and abortion-rights movements in the United States, respectively, and was generally condemned by international observers and foreign leaders.
The U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade paved the way for limits on abortion but also created uncertainty around the future of birth control. This could have far-reaching implications for many people, as a research team from Michigan State University found over one in five Michigan adults do not want children.
Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 165 years. One of the world's leading research universities, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery to make a better, safer, healthier world for all while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.
"We found that 21.6% of adults, or about 1.7 million people, in Michigan do not want children and therefore are 'childfree.' That's more than the population of Michigan's nine largest cities," said Zachary Neal, associate professor in MSU's psychology department and co-author of the study.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, used a set of three questions to identify childfree individuals separately from parents and other types of nonparents. The researchers used data from a sample of 1,500 adults who completed MSU's State of the State Survey, conducted by the university's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. Because different types of nonparents are impossible to distinguish in official statistics, Neal explained that this study is one of the first to count childfree adults specifically.
"People, especially women, who say they don't want children are often told they'll change their mind, but the study found otherwise," said Jennifer Watling Neal, associate professor in the psychology department at MSU and co-author of the study. "People are deciding to be childfree early in life, most often in their teens and twenties. And, it's not just young people claiming they don't want children. Women who decided in their teens to be childfree are now, on average, nearly 40 and still do not have children."
The study was conducted in Michigan, but according to the 2021 census, Michigan is demographically similar to the United States. Because of this, Neal said, if the pattern holds up nationally, 50 to 60 million Americans are childfree.
"Following the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, many Americans are now at risk of being forced to have children despite not wanting them," said Watling Neal. If further precedents are overturned, and birth control becomes harder to access, many young women who have decided to be childfree may also have difficulty avoiding pregnancy.
Because so many people are childfree, the researchers said this group warrants more attention. They hope future work will expand beyond Michigan and will help the public understand both why people decide to be childfree and the consequences they experience from that decision.
One in Five Adults Deciding Early in Life They Don’t Want Children | Michigan State University (msu.edu). SexualDiversity.org makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.
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• (APA): Michigan State University. (2022, July 26). One in Five Adults Deciding Early in Life They Don’t Want Children. SexualDiversity.org. Retrieved September 23, 2023 from www.sexualdiversity.org/sexuality/adolescent/996.php
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