Having children a selfish act?

Boy at beach

Saturday, when my blog was down, my husband and I read this incredibly
sad and disturbing article, and I’ve been mulling over a post about it
ever since. Here are some of the “highlights”:

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she
would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to
have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love,
to feel a little hand slipping into hers – and a voice calling her

But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.

Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet…

While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of
nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an
almost religious zeal.

“Having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet,” says Toni, 35.


“Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land,
more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more
pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of

To read the whole article, click here.

I read this article with my mouth hanging open, unable to believe
the deception that these women and their partners have bought into. To
believe that saving the world at any cost is an honorable and worthy
pursuit, even at the cost of killing your own child, is deception

If we are not re-evaluating our current lifestyles and seeking to be
more ecologically friendly for the hope of a future generation, then
why do it at all? What good are clean and pure ocean waters without
someone to swim, fish or sail in them? Of what value is it to renew the
soil we have stripped through poor farming practices and begin to once
again grow nutrient-dense and pesticide free produce, if there is no
one to eat it?

I saw a dark vein running through the article, perhaps somewhat
subtle, but it stood out to me so obviously. These women claim that
having children and “over-populating” the earth is the ultimate selfish
act (please, don’t go there with me about the myth of over population).
And yet, as I read about their decisions and their lifestyles
(particularly Toni), I detect a selfishness far greater.

Our culture has bought the lie that we ought to have comfortable,
even luxurious lives, full of the pleasures we believe we deserve. It
has also taught us that children are an affront to this indulgent
lifestyle that we are owed. It begins with choosing to have only one or
two, or even no children, because they come at too great of a cost (but
how will we buy a 4000 sq ft home, and travel the world, and eat out 3
nights a week, and own a plasma tv?). And now this selfishness is being
cloaked in self-righteousness. It’s not because I am selfish– it’s because I am so altruistic that I couldn’t possibly burden this planet with another child.

In defense of our children, I see a much longer lasting legacy than
preventing the use of more water, land and oil. I see the legacy of
children being raised to care for and take dominion over the earth in a
responsible, God-honoring way. Children who will learn from their
parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents mistakes, and be the
leaders who will make the necessary transformation to a society that
treads too heavily upon the earth. Children who will value the creation
that has been given to us, value clean air, pure water, and healthy
bodies, and lead revolutionary lives.

I look into my sweet baby’s eyes, and I do not see cost, burden or
destruction- I see the future, and I believe that if we are diligent in
raising the next generation, that future is bright.

Originally published November 2007

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  1. that was beautifully written, very moving, your passionate resistant to these thoughts come out very clearly, elegantly, and persuasively. i was very much moved, not just by the part you were commenting on, but on your words. too. keep it up! (O:

  2. You are so right. There is a deep underlying current of evil in what she is saying. I actually feel so sorry for this woman, she has been so deceived.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more! Children give us a hope for the future and a reason for taking care of the planet. We definately need to pray for people who are decieved in this way.

  4. I also feel sorry for this woman. She just doesn’t get it. And sadly, her words are going to deceive others and they’re just not going to get it either. I’m looking over at my boys playing on the floor and I’m thinking about the life growing inside of me and I know without an ounce of doubt that NOTHING about having them was selfish. Your response to the article was beautiful and well written. Thanks for sharing.

  5. oh my. i have seen this vein of thinking alot since i have 5 kids of my own. i notice it is especially prevalent in stores such as trader joe’s and whole foods. places where the elite environmentalists go to get their food. they look at my children with disdain like they will catch some sort of disease by just looking at them–as if my children are disposable. i have had such comments as “wow, you poor thing!” and “haven’t you thought of overpopulation?”. this reprehensible line of thinking has come from the abortion and “mother earth” generation. they think they are doing such a noble thing by being completely self centered. i agree with you–what is the point in “saving the earth” if we are not filling it up?

    as much as this subject really gets me riled up, i do really feel sorry for women like these. their lives are so empty. that’s what comes from worshipping the creation rather than the creator.

  6. WOW, I am just sitting here thinking WOW, what a crazy lady…. what if everyone felt that way and then BOOM… the human race is erased…. I am not sure that is what GOD has in mind!

  7. Wow. You are right. That poor, deceived woman. Gracious, it makes one shudder to think that this is the direction in which we as a culture are headed. Praise the Lord for protecting us thus far, and may He continue to make our wombs fruitful with little ones who will glorify God.

  8. Wow, that was sad. I wonder if she really feels guilty for terminating her pregnancy and has decided that this would be her story – somehow it makes her feel like what she did was okay. I only have one child but would have loved to have more. When I see a family with ‘lots’ (4,5,6) of kids. I always think how blessed they are to have been able to have more kids and how the kids are lucky to have each other.
    Thanks for a great post!

  9. I had read that somewhere before. Its very disturbing. I can’t help but also think of that poor child whose life was ended in such a horrible way. How horrible.

  10. I will say that person may be the most misguided confused person I have ever met.

    Even if you take religion out of the picture, what are you saving the earth FOR if there is going to be no one here to enjoy it.

  11. I ugly truth that this woman seems to ignore, is that even though she knew she didn’t want children, she chose to indulged her own physical desires and do the very thing she knew could result in pregnancy! If she were truely selfless, and genuine in her stance that not having children would save the planet, she would either be celibate or surgicaly barren. Instead she chooses selfish s*xual indulgence and murder, over self control and no children.


  12. When our pastor and wife asked us during pre-marriage counseling how many kids we wanted we both said a resounding 3-5. and then I added, “Even though you’re only supposed to have two to replace yourselves.” My pastor replied, “THAT’S A LIE FROM THE DEVIL!” And thankfully that has stayed with me. There are more than enough reserves on this great earth for our children – 1 or 17! The Lord will provide. And if we use it up, we get to go to Heaven. Bless you and this post!

  13. You are SO right- I cannot imagine putting the inanimate ‘planet’s good’ above HUMAN LIFE!

    There’s a line in a Casting Crowns song that says something along the lines of…America’s general philosophy is “to save the trees and kill the children” and I guess that is true for some Americans today. So sad.

  14. I actually have an IRL friend who believes this way and it breaks my heart. We haven’t dialogued about it in many years, and I wonder if she’s changed her mind. These people should read the articles that Australia and China are putting out about limiting family sizes and the negative long-term results they are now seeing. Deception always leads to sin which leads to death.
    So very very sad.

  15. WOW! When the “planet” becomes more important than the God-created people that in habit it – something is seriously wrong! Of course I suppose somehow she has to justify the heinous decision she made all those years ago. It just blows me away that people can REALLY think like that.

  16. You ought to try hearing that line of thought from your little sister who divorced her husband of 6 years so she could be with her girlfriend, and has basically turned her back on everything, including her religion, that she and I grew up with. It’s sort of like hearing that your own children were a mistake, and is a HUGE slap in your face.


  17. What a sad article! Instead of getting mad, you almost feel sorry for them b/c they will never enjoy the sweetness of the smell of child, a hug for no reason at all and joys of each milestone!

    -Sandy toes

  18. Obviously this woman never spent much time taking care of a child. If she did, she would know that having and caring for children is one of the least selfish things you can do.

  19. These are the people that we can give hard facts to, facts like how we are barely at replacement rate and they will still refuse to listen.

    The Devil is speaking through those women and their partners, wouldn’t he be thrilled if we all quit reproducing and therefore brought about our own demise?

  20. I, too, find this type of thinking very sad. My husband and I have 4 children and the comments we heard over and over when pregnant with our 4th were very disheartening.

    I always wanted to say, “One of my children may be the one taking care of you when you’re old and cannot take care of yourself, and you have no children to help you. My children will be contributing members of our country, paying taxes, and helping to keep your pension plan afloat.”

    I live in Canada, where we as a country are not having enough children to even replace ourselves. How are we as a society going to support all of the current adult population if there are not enough children to take over as the current adults retire and become elderly??

  21. Just came over from Rocks in my Dryer, and have to say that this moved me to tears! Thank you for speaking the truth and for sharing what I believe to be God’s heart for our children and our world. I’ll definitely be back to read more!

  22. The world has more than enough resources to care for all the people on it–IF we would use them wisely. The problems arise when we are selfish and refuse to share and give back, or when we do not take care of what we have. I firmly believe in being a good steward of the earth–being ‘green’ and all that…I also hope to have 5 or 6 kids. I will teach them all to care for the earth and for their fellow men…my having a lot of kids is not hurting the world, it’s helping it.

  23. I trust God but is hard to understand why people like her can have babies when my husband and I can not. Oh, if she only realized that children are a blessing from God. Thank you for speaking out and setting the record straight.

  24. If these women and their partners TRULY want to be unselfish then they should end their own lives in order to reduce the ‘strain’ on our planet and its resources! This argument is just a thinly veiled attempt to provide them with a self-righteous reason for indulging their completely selfish lifestyle. If you don’t want to have children because you want to be able to do what you want to do when you want to do it, then at least be mature enough to admit it.

  25. Wow… that is really sad that some people believe those lies. I’m all for doing what we can to help earth be a healthy place to live. But, if we do that at the expense of the future generation like they are suggesting, then it’s of no use at all.

    Thank you for speaking truth to this deception. Blessings!

  26. So sad! Think of the love and joy that woman is missing! I used to think (pre-children) that having kids was just an expensive hobby that some people chose to take up. Really! I was as ignorant as she. Thank goodness I got pregnant accidentally and that my husband was against abortion, or I might still be living in the dark.

  27. I don’t think I can stand to read another article about “that” perspective. It’s so incredibly crazy!
    I guess maybe in the long run it’s a good thing they aren’t “burdening” the earth with more children so we can make up for it with our children and teach them the truth! 😉

  28. I’m afraid that I have missed the point of this post. The women featured in the article have made principled decisions in their lives based on their beliefs. I have to applaud that.

    Too often we (humans) make decisions in our lives without looking to the larger ramifications. When I read about someone who has made decisions about her life based on carefully reasoned beliefs, I applaud her.

    I’m not sure that I agree with the decisions made by these women, but to be honest, I don’t think it matters. They are living their lives in the best way they know how, and I am trying to do the same. Aren’t we all?

  29. I have to applaud them, too Krista. Whether I agree with them or not is irrelevant. I admire the ability to find their moral truths and live by them.

  30. I think it is wrong on your part to presume that people who would rather have a big house, or go out all the time, instead of having children, is selfish.

    Why is it selfish to pursue what you want out of life, as long as you aren’t harming anyone? It comes down to a personal choice, and i think it is neither wrong, nor selfish, to decide to not have children.

    What would be selfish is if the people who wanted to pursue that type of lifestyle had children, but neglect them at the expense of pursuing those dreams.

  31. I read this article when it first came out and was frankly appalled at their beliefs, but then thought that it was probably a good thing they didn’t plan to have kids. I just wish that people who hold these beliefs would undergo surgery to prevent becoming pregnant in the first place.

    I don’t think every woman (or man, for that matter) needs to have children to be happy and fulfilled, but the tone that I remember from that piece was that they thought their lifestyle was the only “right” one. (And it did come across as “selfish” to me, too.)

  32. I can’t belief this. I was shocked and appalled when I read this. It made me sick to think that people actually think like this. I have not heard it before. I was absolutely shocked. Thank you for writing this article.

  33. well, if she really wants to save the planet then why doesn’t she kill herself… or become a mass murderer…
    If she wants to be consistent in “doing good” she would think that 911 was good for the planet b/c it eliminated about 3,000 planet users.

    I am somewhat curious to find out whether or not she is an animal rights activist? burn the babies, save the animals…b/c they don’t use water or food … right?

  34. I am so glad you posted this….although I feel sick to my stomach that this is an article based on real people and not fiction.

    I am quite shocked at a few of the comments above that “applaud” these women and their choices!

    Everyone is important in God’s eyes. You may choose to have a big house, or go out all the time because that doesn’t hurt anyone else.

    But to say someone is living their own *Moral beliefs* or *convictions* when it included choosing the DEATH OF AN INNOCENT LIFE……well, that is beyond sick.

    And yes, that is the very embodiment of all that is SELFISH and EVIL.

  35. I understand being upset about the abortion issue. Having struggled to have the one baby I have, it’s hard for me to read that.

    But I’m NOT sure I understand why some are upset over their choice to not have children. Would you WANT them to have children when they clearly don’t want them? I do think it sad that they don’t seem to believe they are capable of educating their children to be good stewards of their resources. It seems they’re selling their own abilities pretty short. But then, who am I to judge their parenting abilities?

    Ultimately, I’d rather read this story, than the countless child abuse stories with the folks that HAVE babies, keep them and beat the tar out of them because they don’t want them. THOSE are much harder to read.

  36. So very ignorant!

    I can’t help but think of the verse……
    “every knee shall bow…..every tongue confess”

    So many people are going to be blown away surprised at how wrong they’ve been during their lives. It causes me such grief!

    God help them to see….remove the scales from their eyes.

  37. I am a longtime lurker on your blog-I love it.

    Just wanted to say that the Daily Mail is not generally considered a source of reputable journalism, it’s more of a tabloid, so I wouldn’t take their articles too seriously. Certainly people exist with the attitudes featured in the article but I believe them to be very few indeed.

  38. What a sad life that must be.

    I feel like my life really began the day that my son was born….and that his life didn’t begin at conception but really began the day I married his father.

    I can’t imagine a better life than the one I am living right now!

  39. so, presumably out of the earths vanity, we are here to admire it and without us there might aswell be no earth? if you are going to start questioning what the point of reality is without human beings existing, you might aswell go all the way and ask what the point of us existing is at all. i doubt any of you are the type though, since you only look so far as GOD to explain how you got here, not even being bold enough to ask who created god. if the creator doesnt need to be created, why should everything else? the human condition is a cycle of loss and despair, especially if the afterlife youre all banking on doesnt come through. as for selfish acts, youre not having children for anybody but yourself, your spawn will not likely do the majority of the worlds population any favours – children come to be as a product of their parents desires to live on. pretty selfish, but understandable. giving birth also means condemning to death, i wonder how many parents actually thought about life before conceiving and if far less children wouldnt be born if sex wasnt so enjoyable? people sometimes seem to get sadder and bitter about life as they get older and i always wonder if some of these people would of had children, looking in hindsight. with that said, try not to get too depressed, somebody had to play devils advocate, especially with so many people letting ‘GOD’ (read: organized religion) do all of their thinking for them.

  40. I do not think having children is selfish.
    I understand about the population problem but let’s face it the real problem is the way we treat the planet these are the issues we should be more concerned with.
    If we treated the planet better then additional humans on the planet wouldn’t cause so much of a problem. Were our Parents selfish for having us? If they decided to not have us then we wouldn’t have the opportunity to even debate about this subject. We as humans have a choice we can decide not to have children or we can decide to have them. We cannot play god, the world is not and never will be perfect it is organic we cannot design the perfect world there are good and bad people not everyone contributes in the way we want them to, not everyone has an education. If we were all the same and all had the same opportunities life would just be plain boring with no challenges isn’t life supposed to be diverse? I’m not saying that we should not even consider the population problem I just don’t think that saying people are selfish for having children will help the issues it just puts a divide between those who have kids and those who choose not to. We all make choices in life and they are not always the right ones. If you decide not to have kids but you are a really horrible person who upsets everyone then what is your contribution to the world? People pass away every day there are natural disasters and the population decreases. There are many people who can’t have children and so they adopt, the world knows what it is doing. Some say you should only have kids if they are going to be doctors or scientist or whatever, well doctors keep us in good health and make us live longer so where’s the sense in that. The best thing we can do is to look after our planet be kind to each other embrace our differences and respect peoples choices whether we agree with them or not. I don’t have any children and I don’t know if I will but if I decide to then that will be my choice and if I don’t it won’t make me a better person for it so everyone should stop being so bloody self righteous take a look at the real problems in the world and get real.

  41. I just don’t understand how people can see children as anything other than the greatest blessing in this life and also the greatest commandment God has ever given. The first commandment he ever instructed to Adam was Eve before taking care of the animals and earth and even before anything else was to mulitply and replenish the earth. And if even for those not religious…do they honestly think that choosing to live a life with no children is the unselfish and “greener” thing. To have children is to be unselfish and give and think about others first…which in turn changes how you respect others, animals and the world around you. Having children does not mean you seek to consume the world around you and use it up…in my case it has helped prioritize my life and desires and view a fuller future and the consequences of my choices. And I do not think that having an abortion is an appropriate way to “deal with overpopulation.” How selfish can you be to enjoy the baby making process but then terminate a life because you don’t the outcome of your choice! I don’t care if the baby is a day old or 9 months…we all know that it will one day be a baby and it is disgusting that the world has made the beautiful creation of a child into something akin to growing a mole that you can just have removed because of the inconvenience that it brings to you…disgusting! And when did it become socially acceptable for people to ridicule those who believe in God or a higher power? If I am to respect others rights to their believes am I not supposed to have the same courtesy? Lack of hope, lack of compassion, lack of believe in some sort of moral unselfishness just seems like a sad and unfulfilling life. How grateful I am that in a world of trendiness and turmoil I can have honest convictions of the truthfulness of my life on this earth and it’s purpose.

  42. Wow, you make it sound like the planet belongs to us. I guess that’s basically what they teach in Sunday school.

  43. What good are clean and pure ocean waters without someone to swim, fish or sail in them? Of what value is it to renew the soil we have stripped through poor farming practices and begin to once again grow nutrient-dense and pesticide free produce, if there is no one to eat it?

    What about the creatures that are still here? You care about the lives of your children but you don’t care about the lives of anything else . . . interesting.

  44. It is indeed very unselfish to not have children. Having children, in its very essence, is selfish. It does not make it wrong however. All of our actions are basically selfish. All animals act this way. But we have been gifted with the foresight and past-tense thinking to help other animals and plants survive. Having children is great, but it is an even greater accomplishment to make a choice to not have them so that others can (because we know they will) in order for the planet to (maybe) prosper. We need to halt our take-over of the planet. Because what good are our efforts, our compassion, if there is nothing left?

  45. Man, your words make me cringe. Overpopulation a myth? Seriously? Six billion and counting, most of them without basic amenities, not enough for you or something?

    This blog left me with my mouth open. Why don’t you people who bash the childless ones stop and think for one second?
    They are not suggesting that the entirety of the human race stops reproducing this instant, as anyone can realise this is unreasonable as well as impossible.

    They are simply saying (quite accurately) that reproduction is no longer a necessity for the continuation of the human race. Half the fertile population in the world today could drop dead right now and humanity would go on without a hitch in terms of surviving as a species.

    So they have decided not to further burden the planet or maybe just earn more money, what’s it to you? It’s not as if they are telling YOU to stop having children. In fact, by not having children themselves, they are creating better opportunities for yours…you should probably thank them.

    Lay off couples who decide to not have children, regardless of their reasons. It’s their choice and absolutely none of your business.
    And pardon me if I scoff at the idea that this society is very accepting of these people. Even in this 21st century in first-world, developed countries, women get A LOT of pressure to have babies in their fertile years, especially they are married.

    Since humanity is not in danger of extinction, no one has any obligation to reproduce. So let it go.

  46. “If we are not re-evaluating our current lifestyles and seeking to be
    more ecologically friendly for the hope of a future generation, then
    why do it at all?”

    That ONE sentence pretty much sums up the shallowness of your “rebuttal” to the rationale behind Toni’s choice.

    Gee, if we ain’t doin’ it for the benefit of humans, then who gives a damn what we do to the planet, right?

    What an absolutely marvelous attitude. Justification of selfishness with MORE selfishness.

  47. Me and my wife decided not to have kids mostly because we don’t like them but I believe the only thing wrong with this planet is the people imagine the world with out us in it it would be beautiful, are lives what we say and do mean nothing in the long run, a spec of nothing in the universe

  48. The selfishness of the act of having a child can be exemplified by one of the phrases used to describe a baby, “bundle of joy”. People have children so they can have that little “bundle of joy”, soy they can carry on their family line, and so that they can have someone to take care of. I had a vasectomy at the age of 28 because I know there are those out there that will have 2, 3, or more kids. Every child born over replacement rate is making the world a worse place for every other child. One day, I may choose to take in a child that for some reason or other does not have anyone to raise them which seems like the more responsible thing than to have another child.

  49. Yes having children is the epitome of selfishness. How can you be selfish for not having something that does not exist?

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