Daily Mail UK | Nov. 21, 2007
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 Mummy. 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.
Incredibly, so determined was she that the terrible “mistake” of pregnancy should never happen again, that she begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time.
He refused, but Toni – who works for an environmental charity – “relentlessly hunted down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery.
Finally, eight years ago, Toni got her way. At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years was sterilised to “protect the planet”.
Incredibly, instead of mourning the loss of a family that never was, her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card.
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 over-population.”
While most parents view their children as the ultimate miracle of nature, Toni seems to see them as a sinister threat to the future.
It’s an extreme stance which one might imagine is born from an unhappy childhood or an upbringing among parents who share similar, strong beliefs.
But nothing in Toni’s safe, middle- class upbringing gave any clues as to the views which would shape her adult life. The eldest of three daughters, she enjoyed a loving, close-knit family life.
Most young girls dream of marriage and babies. But Sarah dreamed of helping the environment – and as she agonised over the perils of climate change, the loss of animal species and destruction of wilderness, she came to the extraordinary decision never to have a child.
“I realised then that a baby would pollute the planet – and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do.”
Ironically, the couple who have decided to deny themselves children for the sake of the planet, actively enjoy the company of young children. Sarah says: “We both have nieces who we love dearly and I consider myself a caring, nurturing person.
Mark adds: “Sarah and I live as green a life a possible. We don’t have a car, cycle everywhere instead, and we never fly. “We recycle, use low-energy light bulbs and eat only organic, locally produced food. “In short, we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child.
“That’s why I had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong for me to add to climate change and the destruction of Earth. “Sarah and I don’t need children to feel complete. What makes us happy is knowing that we are doing our bit to save our precious planet.”
. . . more