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Not 'selfish': Women open up about choosing to be child-free

Aug. 21, 2014 at 10:44 AM ET

Some women simply don't want to have kids. Hard to believe that's still a controversial decision in this day and age, but women who are child-free by choice say it is. Meanwhile, men who make the same choice don’t face the same scrutiny.

Video: Fashion designer Bri Seeley recently wrote about what it feels like to choose not to have children. She had surgery to prevent pregnancy. NBC’s Hallie Jackson reports.

Bri Seeley, a fashion designer and author, has known since high school that she never wanted to become a mom so she had surgery two years ago to permanently prevent pregnancy.

“I don’t want that responsibility in my life,” Seeley told TODAY, adding that she often faces backlash from people who find out about her stance.   

“I’ve gotten everything from, ‘You’re selfish for not wanting children,’ ‘Your childhood must have been terrible if you don’t want to have children.’”

But Seeley is far from alone. Almost 20 percent of American women end their childbearing years without giving birth and the “childless by choice” movement includes actress Cameron Diaz and comedian Chelsea Handler, who both recently opened up about their decisions.

Read more: Child-free by choice: How Cameron Diaz represents women like me

“I was never drawn to being a mother,” Diaz told Esquire magazine. “It’s so much more work to have children,"

“I don’t ever want to have kids and I don’t like when people tell you that you’re going to change your mind about it,” Handler said.

Seely struggled for years to find a doctor who would perform the procedure that would leave her sterile, she wrote in a column for the Huffington Post, describing herself as “livid” after having her wishes ignored by physicians.

Doctors say it’s never an easy talk.  

“If they haven’t known their patient long enough or if they don’t know them well enough, they will be hesitant to recommend a permanent procedure,” said Dr. David Ahdoot, an OB/GYN in Los Angeles. A tubal ligation (getting your "tubes tied") is more complicated than a man’s vasectomy and not as easily reversible, he added.

Mental health experts say women should have the final say.

“I think we have to allow, as a society, a woman to have power over her body and trust a woman to make those choices for herself,” said Dr. Sheri Meyers, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Seeley knows she made the right decision for herself and hopes more women are accepted for whatever choice they make.

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