A Novel About Selective Procreation

We’ve all thought it. I think about it every time I read about an abused or neglected child. I consider the little victim’s parents and wonder why there’s not some kind of screening to insure responsible reproduction. In my head I’m screaming, “How in the hell were these morons allowed to procreate?” But there are no laws to prevent anyone from having a baby. Such a drastic measure would be counter to every value we hold dear but still… drug addicts are having babies. Teenagers are having babies. Abusive, unstable and horrible people are having babies every single day. We find out about it when the child is found dead, hospitalized or eventually imprisoned. We see homeless kids, hungry kids, sick kids in a foster care system that can’t begin to handle the load. Still, our freedoms are sacrosanct. None of us want to live in a world where a government agency dictates who is qualified to raise a child. But we sure do think about it.

It’s darn easy to get pregnant. Half the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Half! So in my head I’m thinking maybe that’s the problem. How many pregnancies would there be if people had to make the decision in the light of day, through an IVF procedure that took all emotion out of conception? Hmmm, you would decrease the population, you’d eliminate teenagers and drug addicts. You would have both mother and father involved in the decision. Wow, every child would be wanted. What would that world look like?

So that’s how The Johnson Project was conceived. (See what I did there?) It’s a novel about a Zika-like plague that renders all women on earth sterile. Just when everyone thinks that the human race is doomed for extinction, a fertility specialist named Ted Johnson finds the cure but makes the tough decision to offer the procedure only to those couples who are prepared to raise a child. The whole world begs to differ but Ted Johnson and his family seem to have the upper hand and will control reproduction the way they see Utopia. They initially open their center to Americans and Canadians because the vetting process is thorough and they need time before branching out to other continents. The Johnsons take a good hard look at how other countries treat their women and children and don’t like what they see. Here’s their chance, now with leverage, the Johnsons have the power to insist on human rights for everyone. Everyone. Or the offending country will die out. Simple as that.

Here’s an excerpt from the book where the Johnsons hold a press conference to announce the criteria for the rest of the world:

“Uh… regarding our expansion. But… we… have decided that we cannot, in good conscience, share our operation with… well, most of the world.”

There was a moment of silence followed by a burst of reaction.

Rafael soldiered on. “Please remember, we want what is best for the children. Therefore we have established a plan to provide reproductive service centers only to those countries that have stable governments with no imminent threat of war, no habitual human rights violations, countries that provide equal rights to women, countries that do not knowingly allow slavery, child labor, torture or a blatant drug trade. I’m sure you can all assess which countries will be approved and which countries will not be approved.”

The buzz got louder. The cameras didn’t move but the hand held devices were in full swing.

“Our center in Brussels will be open soon for all approved countries in Europe. A center in Adelaide is part of our expansion plan for Australia and will be ready next year.”

The reporters seemed to hold a collective breath devouring every word.

“Dr. Khan Patel, who was instrumental in opening this center will be running the Belgian site. Press releases with the application have been sent to major European newspapers in approved countries. The American website will take you to the specifics for your country.” He took a needed breath. “I believe it will be more efficient to announce the European countries that have NOT been approved due to human rights violations or instability.

And there we have an interesting novel with a disturbing plot. The Johnson Project was published in March, 2016 through Amazon. I thought the Sci-fi Thriller crowd might take a peek and they did, leaving very kind reviews. What surprised me were the critics claiming a left-wing agenda. Some called it a Socialist plot. Others really liked the idea and hoped it would happen!

What I found most interesting is that just about everyone has a strong opinion on the subject, especially those with children. I’ve gotten emails and notes sent to my Facebook page both praising and reviling the story. One man told me to get my tubes tied and start the ball rolling. I think it’s because we’ve all been there. We were all once children. We all know the frailty and dependency of a child. Some of us have lived the terror of having absolutely no rights and parents that never should have been. That’s what brings out the opinions and the judgements and the outrage. The book makes you stop and think. It also makes you wonder what you would do if you were Ted Johnson and had the leverage to affect real change in the world. Would you do it?

Author Maggie Spence lives in Libertyville, IL with her husband and three children. The Johnson Project is available as a Kindle ebook or in paperback at Amazon. http://tinyurl.com/jq44fpx