Procreative Procrastination: The Ethics of Postponed Parenthood

  • Daniela Cutas
  • Anna Smajdor
  • Kristien Hens


In recent years, there has been growing concern over the perceived tendency of women to postpone childbearing. In this chapter, we show that some of the responses to the phenomenon of postponed reproduction are deeply problematic. The question of whether it is accurate to construe later motherhood as postponement at all is far from clear. Moreover, public health messages tend to recommend earlier motherhood as a way of avoiding risks, but this is a crude oversimplification: reproduction involves risks whenever it is undertaken. The focus on risk calls into question some of the strategies intended to remedy postponement of parenthood. There is also the question of where men feature in these decisions: they are all but absent in the public health material and media debates. We consider whether technology could offer a solution to postponement of parenthood, whether there are any benefits to postponement, and finally, whether postponed parenthood could itself be seen as part of a broader trend towards neoteny (the delaying of maturity) in human evolution.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious StudiesUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of ScienceUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  3. 3.Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and IdeasUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

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