Raising children is quantifiably the most persistently unselfish act known to mankind, as millions of veterans of sleepless nights will attest. Parenthood is when "I" takes a backseat to "thou" -- when the infant-self submits to adulthood so that the real infant gets a necessary turn at the well of self-importance.
Although I doubt there are many willing to sterilize themselves in order to reduce the size of their carbon footprint, such extreme materialism is the evolutionary product of our gradual commodification of human life.
Suddenly, the unborn is of no greater importance than the contents of our recycling bin. Like Weight Watchers dieters substituting carbs for sugars, we trade off future members of the human race to neutralize insults to Earth's balance in the present.
Here's how the mental calculation goes: Let's see, if I abort my child, maybe I can travel first-class to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.
Is this the slippery slope that pro-lifers prophesied? Once such utilitarian concerns edge out our humanity -- and once human life is deemed to have no greater value than any other life form -- how long before we begin tidying up other inconveniences?
Wouldn't it be helpful to eliminate some of the less productive members of society who, like the cows they no doubt eat, are emitting hazardous methane, one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming?
That seems an absurd projection, but then not long ago, so did the aborting of babies to thwart global warming. The deeply caring, meanwhile, are always the ones to watch. Tenderness, it has been said, leads to the gas chambers.
On a lighter note, we might have avoided all such concerns if only the mothers of Toni, Ed, Sarah and Mark had been as "virtuous" as they are.