Mothers: An Endangered Species?

Ancestor (2022) by Bharti Kher, New York City Central Park

Every day is Mother’s Day. All of us owe thanks to mothers for bringing us through 9 months of magical transformation, labor and delivery. All of us are children of mothers and fathers, whether we know our biological parents or not. Some give birth while still kids. Some want to give birth and for one reason or another are thwarted. Others decide, for many possible reasons, that they cannot continue a pregnancy.

According to 2022 United Nations Population Fund research, nearly 50% of all pregnancies are unintended; between 2015 and 2019 there were about 121 million unintended pregnancies each year world-wide. Over 60% of unintended pregnancies and nearly 30% of all pregnancies result in abortion. However, 45% of all abortions globally are considered medically unsafe. These staggering findings include references to the war in Ukraine and other sexual violence crisis situations where birth control is not a viable option. For example, the prevalence of refugee women and girls who are victims of sexual violence is estimated to be 20% of them.

Additionally, the unwanted pandemic threw people into confusion about family planning. In 2020-2021 research involving 5000 women, 51% of the women either wanted to delay pregnancy or expressed less interest in having a child. In the first year of the pandemic, it is estimated that a disruption in the contraceptive supply chain resulted in many unintended pregnancies. When motherhood is at-risk, childhood also is at-risk.

I feel enormously grateful that I planned to be a mother. With the exception of an excruciating miscarriage, I experience motherhood as a tremendous honor to have given birth and be Mom to my children. I wonder how other mammal moms feel. Many appear truly dedicated. I watched a pride of female lions interacting with playful cubs in India; the mothers seemed watchful and “contented.” I imagined contentment, as the regal female lions lounged alongside a swimming pool of water. They lived in a game reserve where antelope picnics were plentiful. However, if one lives in poverty and/or war conditions, it is challenging to find food to feed oneself and any kids.

Australian scientists have a plan to grow plants on the Moon by 2025. The goal of Lunaria One is to grow plants for food, medicine and oxygen on the lunar surface to sustain human life on the Moon. Will this be like a lion’s game reserve?  

According to Lunaria One director Linda Fell, “We have to find species that will be able to tolerate a wide range of temperatures that can go from freezing to maybe up to 40 or 50 degrees centigrade…there’s radiation…we still have a lot to learn about how that will affect plants…we will need to grow plants for eating but also for wellbeing.”

This sounds like a grand adventure, but what about unintended pregnancy? Will contraception be readily available on the Moon?

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz

185. What thoughts entered your mind this Mother’s Day?

186. Do animals make better parents than some humans?              

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

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