Kristen Hatten

TIME Magazine asks: who needs kids, anyway?

Kristen Hatten
By Kristen Hatten
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August 7, 2013 (LiveActionNews) - I miscarried my first child less than a month ago, so I see babies or lack of babies everywhere. When the latest issue of TIME arrived at my home (it was free, okay, shut up) with the words “THE CHILDFREE LIFE” emblazoned across the cover, I just sort of rolled my eyes. “When having it all means not having children,” read the sub-head. I looked at the cover photo of a young, relaxed couple lounging on the beach. The woman wore giant sunglasses and a little Mona Lisa smile that I guess is supposed to communicate her disdain for her uterus and her utter satisfaction with her size-4, cellulite-free, vacation-filled life.

Cover Photo Lady has lots of company: the American birth rate has literally never been lower in our recorded history. That includes the Great Depression, when people were too busy being Greatly Depressed to have babies. TIME tells us that the birth rate declined 9% between 2007 and 2011, which apparently is like whoa.

In other words, more and more American women are looking at the motherhood and saying, “You know what? No.” And after exploring the many reasons why women might decide not to procreate (and it’s usually looked at as a woman’s decision, not so much a man’s), TIME‘s Lauren Sandler decides that this is a pretty cool decision.

So what are the reasons? Unfortunately, they are painfully obvious and, in my openly biased opinion, tiresome. “Our lives are so great already.” “My mom had 16 kids and she was always tired and her life sucked.” “I wanna do what I wanna do.” “I’m afraid I would be such a devoted and awesome parent that everything else would suffer.” Et cetera.

But in some of the women interviewed for the article, there are – surprise, surprise! – hints of regret. Take Leah Clouse, a 27-year-old Knoxille, Tenn. woman who keeps a “baby box” in the closet “with a pink tutu she once bought for an imaginary infant girl.” Her explanation is that the box is “indulgent of a life I have to grieve. If we decided to have children, we’d have to grieve the life we currently have.”

And what life do they currently have? Leah “commits her time to working on her own creative projects and starting up a bakery.” Her husband writes a blog and works in customer service at a credit card-processing company. Ahem. Ahem hem.

Does anyone else feel like one day Leah and Paul might find the grief for the family they never had far outweighs their grief over blogging and baking?

Hey, it may sound nuts to me to give up the most creative project of all – baby-making – to write blogs and bake, but then that’s me. Who am I to judge? I am one of those rare pro-lifers who doesn’t believe in forcibly impregnating women with the seed of country music singers and Republican senators and replacing all their highfalutin’ books with Bibles and recipes. I know most of you are totally into that, but hey, not me.

Look: if you don’t want to have a kid, no one is forcing you to. But even when I try extremely hard to be objective, I can’t help but think some of the reasons couples give for avoiding parenthood are deeply, deeply lame.

And guess what! This means I’m dumb. At least that’s what Satoshi Kanazawa at the London School of Economics says. He has “begun to present scholarship asserting that the more intelligent women are, the less likely they are to become mothers.” But don’t hang your heads yet, Mom: many of his peers have found fault with those findings. (And may I add, again: surprise, surprise.)

Lest you start thinking the childfree life is all fun and games, it’s not. It gets lonely, especially in your 30s and 40s. I can attest to that, although I am not childfree by choice but because I was kind of a late bloomer when it comes to settling down and having kids. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a wife and mother ’til I was in my late 20s. I spent most of that decade in creative pursuits and having both a lot of fun and a lot of decidedly not-fun. I’m sure my conversion, at age 28, to Catholicism from Semi-Pagan Agnostic Pantheist Hotmess-ism was instrumental in my recognition of my own desire for children.

In any case, at nearly 34 and no children yet, I can tell you it is lonely. It’s hard to find friends who can hang out, and when they can hang out, it’s usually at their place with their kids. Even if you love kids, maybe especially if you love kids, that can be hard after a while.

But the childfree-by-choice have chosen their fate. They don’t want kids. So it’s hard for me to shed a tear for their loneliness. After all, that annoying idea that children are a blessing is as old as time. It’s biblical, in fact. So, when you deny something that’s pretty natural, you may have to – and I say this with gentleness and love - get an app that blocks your friends’ babies from showing up on your Facebook and replaces them with fast cars or kittens or whatever you like. Because apparently that is a thing. And that thing kind of says it all.

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See, some women claim they don’t have a maternal instinct. And maybe some truly don’t. But is that always an inborn characteristic – or lack thereof – or is it a result of living in a culture that is increasingly self-obsessed? This is a selfie society. Young people are being taught to share the highlight reel of their lives via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and kind of marvel at their own brand. In another time, all that oohing and aaahing would be directed at our children, not at ourselves.

Although Sandler’s article is dismissive of branding childfree-by-choice women “selfish,” I think she may be lacking objectivity. Whether it’s bad or wrong or what, it is most definitely selfish. ”It takes all of you, and I don’t know that I want to give it all,” said Leah Clouse of motherhood. Simple as that.

Furthermore, in my experience, there is far more of an anti-religion, anti-family, counter-cultural attitude to many of these women’s choices than TIME feels the need to explore. “Babies scare me more than anything,” says radical fauxminist Margaret Cho, in a delicious display of the pot calling the kettle scary.

I have known many young women who are self-described feminists, radicals, or liberals who delighted in disdaining babies and children and the desire to have them. In fact, in my 20s, I was one of those. Very deep down, I wanted children even back then. But in the circles I ran with, of actors and artists and filmmakers and punk rockers, wanting a baby was a weakness. It was for mainstreamers and sell-outs and church people. If you did have a baby, it was after getting pregnant by accident and considering abortion.

The article does not touch on how many of the couples interviewed use hormonal birth control to maintain their childfree existence, but I’d guess it’s a lot. I’d imagine there have been tubal ligations and vasectomies, too, and to be honest, the thought of human beings sterilizing themselves like animals irks me, and I don’t care if that makes me a lame church person. And of course, many people who insist on remaining childless have “oopsy-daisy” moments that lead to abortion. In other words, they’re not willing to sacrifice their comfort or convenience for a child, but they have no problem sacrificing a child for their comfort and convenience.

Still, if all these people were remaining childfree using a technique such as Natural Family Planning that didn’t end even the teensiest-weensiest human life, I’d probably still be bothered by it. (And, yes, it is okay to feel bothered by something other people do, even while accepting their right to do it.)

I’m all about people finding their own way and choosing their own happiness, but I find it difficult to believe that none of these people are going to wish they’d made a different decision. And that bothers me for them. I read between the lines of Leah Clouse’s interview, I picture her hiding her “baby box” in her closet, and I anticipate pain, regret, and loss. She already describes her feelings as “grief.”

It boils down to this: I’ve met lots of people who regretted not having children, but I have never met a single one who regretted her child.

Kristen is Vice President of New Wave Feminists. She tweets as @walkertxkristen and can be found on Facebook if you know where to look.

Reprinted with permssion from LiveActionNews

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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