Making Modern Mothers: Ethics and Family Planning in Urban Greece

By Heather Paxson | Go to book overview

3
Rationalizing Sex
Family Planning and
an Ethic of Well-Being

Family planning is a need broached by family reality in our era, an essential need and one, in reality, with no return. We cannot return to an era when the coming of a child was little more than a fortuitous affair. Today, if you like, the general economic and social demands of raising a child—just as with the position of women and the changes which have supported this position—in order to train it properly so it has the necessary education … and everything else that it needs—all this creates a need for family planning. And it is a need we must face. And, contrary to what some here are trying to present, this does not diminish the significance of the coming of a child. Precisely this need to raise the consciousness of parental choice… underlines so importantly the event of the birth of a child in contemporary society. This need for family planning traumatically emphasizes precisely how great is the responsibility of today's parents to bring a child into the world.

MARIA DAMANAKI, member of Parliament for the Greek Communist
Party, speaking on the floor of Parliament in support of
legalizing abortion, June 1986

Family planning, as an institution and philosophy, first came to Greece in 1976 by way of a private center established by a British-trained gynecologist and a group of concerned housewives. Family planning—here signifying the calculated use of contraceptives—is forwarded in Greece as an emergent and liberating practice, a clear alternative to traditional strategies for birth control reliant on restrictions governing sexual activity and backed by abortion. Consistent with the ethic of choice, the first principle of family planning considers it a human right that people be able to choose the number of children they want and when they want them—without women having to resort to abortion. Toward this end, family planners want men, but especially women, to reconsider the ideal point at which human will enters into reproductive processes and to assume a more proactive

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