Andrea Leadsom’s suggestion that being a mother made her a better candidate for being a leader than Theresa May, because it gave her a stake in the future that May lacked, seems to have sunk her leadership bid. The horrified responses to her remarks were motivated in important part by the observation that Leadsom was trading on the common sexist belief that it is somehow unnatural or perverse for women (but not men) to be childless. But might Leadsom have had a point? What do we actually know about how having children affects parents’ political engagement and orientation?
Parents are today bombarded with the message that the world in which their children grow up is likely to be a more dangerous place; one in which lifespans may fall for the first time in more than a hundred years. This message could affect their political views, as parents, in a number of ways. Consider two recent reports that have implications for parents that might differ from the implications for non-parents.
The first was the report that levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have now passed 400 parts per million; a clear sign that we are failing to address what is perhaps the biggest threat to humanity today. Coupled with evidence that the world is warming faster than expected, and the record run of warm temperatures (due, admittedly, in part to natural variability), the evidence is mounting that the threat is not just to future generations, but to children already born.
The second report was the news that a strain of E Coli had been identified in a human patient that was resistant to Colistin, an antibiotic of last resort.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.