After all, Western finger-waggers seem to have no compunction with traveling around the world to expand their families by any means necessary, pursuing anything from expensive (and no doubt resource-intensive) fertility treatments to surrogacy in the same countries where they urge citizens to contracept more fervently.

When the enlightened advocates among us hand down recommendations, one has the nagging feeling that they’re envisioning less themselves and their compatriots than more easily caricatured others — the poor, the black and the brown, those Third World women whose lives, they imagine, are sad and difficult anyway, who would probably welcome having one or two fewer children. It’s an ugly sort of paternalism, well-meant but fundamentally chilling. At its core, it denies the humanity of others.