Mark Steyn, who somehow I missed all this time but who's swiftly jumped to the very top of my reading list, has this to say about babies, or lack thereof:
In practice, a culture that thinks Terri Schiavo's life in Florida or the cleft-lipped baby's in Herefordshire has no value winds up ascribing no value to life in general. Hence, the shrivelled fertility rates in Europe and in blue-state America: John Kerry won the 16 states with the lowest birth rates; George W Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest.
The 19th-century Shaker communities were forbidden from breeding and could increase their number only by conversion. The Euro-Canadian-Democratic Party welfare secularists seem to have chosen the same predicament voluntarily, and are likely to meet the same fate. The martyrdom culture of radical Islam is a literal dead end. But so is the slyer death culture of post-Christian radical narcissism. This is the political issue that will determine all the others: it's the demography, stupid.
The Herefordshire (UK) baby he mentions was aborted because of a treatable cleft palate. The doctors responsible for the decision(?) and the abortion were not prosecuted for their action because authorities were convinced that they were acting "in good faith." What prosecution they might have faced if they hadn't been successful in convincing authorities of their good faith, I don't know; unlike the Supreme Court, I'm not terribly interested in the laws of other countries, at least as they relate (or don't) to our own system of laws and jurisprudence.
All over the board today, aren't I?
Steyn's op-ed piece is titled "The strange death of the liberal West" and deserves a read in toto. The upshot: our need for particular resources and our ability to produce them change over time - e.g., the oil that we were supposed to have run out of by now - but the changes rely on one thing: human ingenuity. Human ingenuity, it is patently obvious, is only available when there are humans. Falling birthrates denote a loss of the one resource we absolutely can't do without, he says.
When we're having a kid-intensive moment, my husband and I joke that we only ever wanted two children - sometimes these two, sometimes those two... In light of Steyn's comments, tonight at least I'm altogether happy to have had three.