By Lisa Cannon Green
First comes love, then comes carriage. Wait. Isn’t something missing here?
Today’s American women don’t seem to think so. Increasingly, they choose the baby carriage without the marriage, new research shows.
Fully 55 percent of women who reach their early 40s without ever tying the knot have nevertheless given birth to at least one child, according to Pew Research.
The rate has grown dramatically since 1994, when fewer than a third (31 percent) of never-married women in their early 40s had become mothers, Pew says.
And the upward trend appears among never-married women of all ages, races, and education levels.
“In fact, rates of motherhood have more than doubled for never-married women with some college experience as well as those with a bachelor’s degree or more education,” Pew wrote.
The change comes at a time when Americans are becoming more tolerant of extramarital births.
Acceptance hit a record high in 2017, according to Gallup, with 62 percent of Americans saying it’s morally acceptable to have a baby outside marriage. When Gallup first asked the question in 2002, only 45 percent agreed.
By 2016, unmarried women accounted for almost 4 in 10 births, double the rate from 1980, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet many women fear condemnation from the church if they opt to have a baby outside marriage, a study by LifeWay Research shows.
In 2015, the Nashville-based research organization surveyed 1,038 American women who’d had abortions.
Among those women, two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.
Churches need to remember that pregnancy is not a sin—regardless of how the pregnancy began, said Vince DiCaro, chief outreach officer for Care Net, which commissioned the study.
“The perspective needs to change in churches,” DiCaro said.
- Church’s response to an unplanned pregnancy could mean life or death
- 5 practical ways to be a pro-life champion in your church
- 4 surprising groups not showing up on Sunday
LISA CANNON GREEN (@lisaccgreen) is senior editor of Facts & Trends.