SCOT BELLAVIA: Response to ‘To Breed or Not to Breed’

A New York Times article reported testimonies that put faces on a statistic worth noting. Apparently, the birthrate in these United States has been dropping for six years in a row – not by some disease but by the woman’s choice.

Motivations for choosing to be childless include: political strife, vaccination (in)considerations, and the high cost of daycare and college. The author focused on other rationale. He referenced two polls in which one-quarter and one-third of respondents listed “climate change” as their reason for not having children and another 27% in the second poll said “population growth” is their concern.

I can’t get in a tizzy over children who will not be conceived – not in the way the Christian Right obligates me to do so over preborn children who are killed. Other denominations do have beef with the former, but not mine and not me. The preconceived is a distraction from other differences of opinion.

One woman tried to spin her decision as virtuous. “Harnessing the love I have for my unborn hypothetical kid comforts me in sparing them an inhospitable future…In this way, my choice feels like an act of love.” But she can’t love that which doesn’t exist. In her own words, this is simply a “comfort” to herself when she encounters anticipated criticism.

Elsewhere in the article there’s a predictable (to the critic) worldview in which AOC and Bernie Sanders are name dropped and a career is more noble than motherhood. Between the lines of a few passages, I read a desire to reject gender expectations. These arguments are par for the course and cry for discussion on a personal level to properly address them.

Climate concerns largely flow from the information one collects, which itself varies by source. One woman said, “I literally can’t go to a dinner party without the collapse of a civilization being at least mentioned, if not being the main topic of conversation.” We don’t run in the same circles, but I can imagine that that constant presence of such an existential crisis will lead one to make decisions that people who don’t attend so many dinner parties don’t consider.

An expert quoted toward the beginning of the article confirmed that “more people will consume more resources and cause more greenhouse gas emissions.” Yet, she continued, “that’s not really the relevant time frame for actually stabilizing the climate, given that we have this decade to cut emissions in half.” Again, the implications of child rearing on a planet ostensibly in decay is a side issue.

I hold Ben Shapiro’s confidence in the next generation, that they’ll do what needs to be done to survive, just as all of humanity has since the beginning. If that sounds like I’m putting our planet on the back burner, I hold that confidence as I adopt for myself the plans a would-have-been father from the article had, to raise and love his children well so they “can be leaders in our future for what is to come.”

Scot Bellavia

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