As the mother of two kids, I never thought that I was making what some view as an ethically and morally wrong choice. However, a few years ago, Raphael Samuels was in the news for suing his parents – for giving birth to him without his consent. It made a weird kind of sense to me and this is when I first came across the concept of antinatalism. Now research suggests that antinatalism could have a genetic component.
Antinatalists believe that it environmentally, ethically and morally wrong to procreate and bring new people into the world. Plus there is the problem of consent – there is no way to obtain consent of a person that is to be brought into existence.
The antinatalist believes that to prevent death one has to prevent birth. They believe that the world would simply be better off without new humans being added to it. They also believe that it is wrong to thrust someone into a life of suffering that can only end with death.
Where pressure on resources is so high, why should people we producing more babies and increasing that already high pressure? You could see this as a very extreme form of family planning; one that believes the world is awful and that human life is grim.
It is wrong to cause people harm, but by giving birth to them, harm is in fact being caused… because in life, pain is inevitable. Since you cannot prevent the pain, prevent the pain – if that makes sense.
I actually agree that deciding to become a parent is a form of narcissism – the joy of having a child, creating someone in my own image is… I did all this for me, not for my children. It is a sort of selfishness: the feeling of satisfaction that after I'm gone there is some part of me that survive in the form of my children.
If one wants to lavish love and care, and wants to protect vulnerable children, adoption is a far more moral choice, believes the antinatalist. Rather than birthing children, adopt already existing children – already suffering humans, they say.
Antinatalists believe that procreation is not selfless, nor is it some beautiful act of creating life, but an act of extreme selfishness. Many liken having kids to having pets for one's own entertainment.
Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Islam forbid birth control and view procreation as natural and desirable (go forth and multiply the prophets are quoted as saying). However, Buddhism envisages a form of antinatalism that advocates one to “desist from the procreation of children; and so stop the operation of old age and death” After all death and old age were the principal triggers for Siddharth leaving his palace and renouncing the world.
Many natalists (people other than antinatalists) are of the view that we are naturally geared to procreate; that the desire to have babies is instinctive, inborn and genetically coded into us all. Antinatalists disagree; they believe it is a rational, humane and compassionate choice not to bring kids into the world.
Life is uncertain and precarious – any parent would hate for their child to be unhappy or to suffer in any way. However, there is no way to guarantee that our children will experience no pain, discomfort, suffering, disease, heartache etc. This should make us think about whether procreating is a moral choice or not. And there are over 7 billion humans on earth – do we really need more?
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