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In its attempts agains depopulation, the government issues new rules to encourage people to have more child. But childbearing is not —————— .

I want to say that childbearing is not a matter of order, that is, people cannot be forced by rules to have more children: to impose such laws would be to breach basic human rights.

Is there any word, idiom or phrase to say that something is not a matter of order?

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  • Not an idiom, but simply "desire for children cannot be governed by force" or "cannot be decreed".
    – Graffito
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 12:26
  • What do you mean: a matter of order?? Do you mean: cannot be decreed?
    – Lambie
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 14:46
  • But childbearing is not _____.But childbearing_____ .But childbearing cannot be mandated. Commented May 4, 2023 at 17:57
  • Please could you say what you mean by 'a matter of order'? It might mean that (1) childbearing is not a matter of orderly behaviour; (2) Childbearing is not in practice possible to manage by passing laws about it; or (3) Childbearing is not a morally proper thing to be managed by means of legal orders. Which do you mean?
    – Tuffy
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 0:09

4 Answers 4

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Not a matter for order - my first thought was not a matter for regulation, or not subject to regulation, or perhaps cannot be regulated. But of course China famously regulated the number of children per family for some years by limiting how many children couples could have.

Cannot be forced and cannot be compelled both sound as if they are closer to what you want to say in this context.

Another possibility would be children cannot be produced to order. Here produced to order has the commercial meaning that goods are ordered by a customer from a supplier who makes them as they are ordered (instead of filling the order from a stock of standard items).

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  • Is it ‘produced to order’ or ‘by order’, ‘on order’ or ‘to be ordered’? And could you please mention some examples from credible sources for the suggestion?
    – Sasan
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 7:40
  • 1
    As Peter said, it's to order. Commented May 4, 2023 at 8:01
  • 1
    "By order" is used when an authority has issued a legal instruction (a different meaning of "order"). For example "No dogs permitted in this park. By order F. Smith, town clerk" states the instruction and the authority by which it is issued. "The goods are on order" means that they have been ordered (in the commercial sense) but not yet supplied. "They are to be ordered" means that somebody needs to do the ordering but has not yet done so.
    – Peter
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 1:54
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Childbearing is not a statutory matter.

Cambridge
statutory adjective:
decided or controlled by law

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  • In its attempts to curb depopulation, the government issues new rules to encourage people to have more children. But childbearing is not a matter for government policy.

More precise but longer

  • In its attempts to curb depopulation, the government issues new rules to encourage people to have more children. But childbearing is not a matter in which government could impose quotas per family.

Note: "Order" cannot be used in the context of directives issued from a government. Although governments laws asking a people to do various things are of the nature of order, as in the military, for example (obey orders), in the context of goverment and the people that depend on it the term "order" is not idiomatic. However, a government might give orders to its armed forces. If you mean "order" as in "to maintain order", then this is not right either for the context of your paragraph.

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Without using negation, a word that works is voluntary.

... childbearing is voluntary.

Google dictionary (Google search for "define voluntary"):

voluntary adjective

  1. done, given, or acting of one's own free will.
    "we are funded by voluntary contributions"

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