Fawning coverage of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become a genre in its own right. The December issue of Vanity Fair, which boasts the New York Democrat on the cover, is a prime example, featuring the usual flattering photo spread of the congresswoman wearing expensive designer clothes.
In the article, she answers tough questions about her penchant for red lipstick and bright nail polish and insists she is still Sandy from the block because despite her generous congressional salary, she is short of money. Tucked inside this 6,000-word puff piece, however, is one mildly interesting insight. The interview turns to whether Ocasio-Cortez has any plans to start a family:
Earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez and Roberts [AOC’s boyfriend] got a French bulldog named Deco (an ode to the architecture style) ‘to force myself to not live and breathe work,’ she says. Dog motherhood is the only kind she can fathom at the moment. ‘I’m sitting here, I’m like, Do I freeze my eggs? Can I afford to do that?’ the congresswoman says, laughing. ‘My orthodontist was telling me about how she was doing IVF, and I’m, like, asking her what her experience is like.’
This statement represents a change of course for AOC, who is also one of America’s most prominent climate change alarmists and a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. Last year, she told her millions of Instagram followers: “There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead young people to have a legitimate question: Is it OK to still have children?”
Apparently, she has answered that question. It is OK to still have children.
Climate change alarmists tend to regard human beings as a blight on the Earth. We are destroying the environment, so the fewer of us who exist, the better. Climate activists express this view in a host of subtle ways, but also overtly, such as through the #Birthstrike movement, which encourages young people to forego childbearing because having kids allegedly increases one’s carbon footprint.
Even for a climate change alarmist like AOC, the desire for a baby runs too deep to deny it. Ocasio-Cortez, however, doesn’t want to pursue motherhood in a way that shows any respect for a woman’s natural fertility. That is likely to create additional heartache if she pursues her current plans and other young women follow suit.
Egg Freezing Isn’t the Answer
AOC is 31 and has a long-term relationship with Riley Roberts, a man she started dating in college. If she truly wants to start a family, the perfect time for her to do it is now (although preferably after getting married.)
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, and egg freezing were originally intended to be last-ditch efforts for couples who could not conceive any other way, but AOC is suggesting they are her first and best option. She is hardly alone in that view. More and more companies are offering egg freezing as a benefit to their employees.
The fertility industry can sometimes help couples who are genuinely infertile, but it also makes billions by promoting the delusion that modern medicine has defeated the biological clock. Smiling celebrities appear on magazine covers showing off the babies they conceived via IVF. Why bother with a baby in your 20s or 30s when one could give birth later in life?
The reality, however, is that failure rates in the fertility industry are extremely high. We hear less about that because couples who spent all their savings on failed IVF often hate to talk about it. In January, scientists in the United Kingdom presented data that suggests the live birth rate using a patient’s own frozen eggs is a mere 18 percent. The success rate is 31 percent when donor eggs are used.
Ocasio-Cortez is never shy about touting her feminist cred, but what is more anti-woman than taking hormonal contraception to suppress one’s natural fertility and then spending a fortune to try to conceive via invasive medical procedures with a high rate of failure? Even then, one might well be forced to use another woman’s eggs. The structure of the modern economy makes it difficult for women to start a family in their 20s and 30s, but that doesn’t mean women should simply give up on that idea and freeze their eggs instead.
Get Your Priorities Straight
In the Vanity Fair interview, AOC cites Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth as a role model. Duckworth gave birth to her second child via IVF at age 50. In 2018, Duckworth told Marie Claire that she consciously prioritized working over having a family. “I made the choice early in my career that I don’t want other women to have to make. When I was in my 20s and trying to rise through the ranks of the military, I knew if I took time off to get pregnant and raise my children, it was going to affect my career.”
While Duckworth might say other women shouldn’t follow her example, the images of her entering the Senate floor for the first time with her newborn while other lawmakers applauded send a very different message. No wonder AOC looks up to her. In 2020, the women we lionize are freezing their eggs until they’re 50 and embracing “dog motherhood” in the meantime.
Many young women in America look up to AOC. It is tragic that she is giving them such incomplete and irresponsible advice, endorsing the fertility industry’s myths and presenting pet parenting as a serious alternative to actual motherhood.
“I don’t want to be a savior, I want to be a mirror,” Ocasio-Cortez told Vanity Fair, and she is getting her wish. She is no savior. Young women who listen to AOC on fertility might well end up facing enormous sadness and lifelong heartache.