Choosing to be childless

Aug 14, 2013

 This story is voiced here by Mette Jensen, and was produced along with Gabe Pannell and Anthony Piscitella for the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Department of San Francisco State University.

"Be fruitful and multiply the earth," God said in the old Testament. This was his very first command to human kind.

And humankind followed his demand. Around seven billion people later, times have changed -- especially in America, where 20 percent of women today end their childbearing years without giving birth to a child. That is one in five, compared with one in ten in the 1970s.


One of them is Rachel Hall, a 48-year old computer developer from Berkeley. As a young girl she had a feeling about children that she couldn't put a finger on, she says.


“Some kids like my sister for example loved children. My mother, when she was a kid, loved to babysit, always knew she wanted kids and ended up having three of them. That was not me," says Hall. "It was like some innate nature in me that I wasn’t drawn to them.”


Compared to before the 1970s, having a child today is a choice, Amy Blackstone, a professor in Sociology from Maine explains. This is due to a number of cultural changes such as women entering the job market, education system and having access to birth control.


As Rachel Hall got older it became more and more clear what her choice was going to be. While her friends and family were having children, she pursued her career and nurtured her life by volunteering at animal shelters. Going on long runs also became a big passion of hers. In her late twenties Rachel Hall still couldn't see herself having children. But something started happening after the sun went down.


“I started having these dreams. I would desperately want to go for a run,” Rachel Hall explains. “You know, I'd had my running gear on. I would get to the point where I would head to the door. And then realize, that I can't leave because there's this infant here, that I am responsible for.

I remember just panicking and being in a state of disbelief. What am I going to do? And then I would wake up and I would just have this huge sense of relief – that it was just a dream,” she says with a small laugh.


Today Rachel Hall gets to interact with kids when she spends time with her nieces and nephews, whom she'll often take to the park. She is happy with her decision, she says.


“I think honestly that I'm kind of proud of it. That I made the decision not to have kids and I'm totally okay with it. And there are people out there. And I'm one of them. And we're not odd and there's nothing wrong with us. Some people just don't want to have them. And that's okay.”