'Anti-natalist' plans to sue parents for having him without his consent

Meet the anti-natalist suing his parents.
Meet the anti-natalist suing his parents. Photo: Shutterstock

Raphael Samuel wants to sue his parents. Why? The 27-year-old Indian man says he didn't consent to being born. He wasn't give a choice about existing - and so he plans to take his mum and dad to court.

Mr Samuel is an anti-natalist, someone who believes that procreation is morally wrong. Over on Facebook, he runs a page called Nihilanand where he shares this branch of philosophy, with a small but cult-like following.

Interestingly, Mr Samuel quite likes his mum and dad - he's just not fond of their decision to reproduce.

"I love my parents, and we have a great relationship, but they had me for their joy and their pleasure," he told The Print of his decision to sue. "My life has been amazing, but I don't see why I should put another life through the rigamarole of school and finding a career, especially when they didn't ask to exist."

As you might well imagine, the backlash has been swift and fierce - but Mr Samuel is undeterred.

In a YouTube video posted to address some of the criticisms, a fake beard wearing Mr Samuel explains his argument in more detail: "I want everyone in India and also the world to realise one thing: they are born without their consent. None of us have consented to be here."

Right. But how, exactly, do you ask a child to be born?

Mr Samuel has an answer for that, too.

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"We came by our parents' discretion. They got a certain joy or happiness by having us. We were not asked. It's not even possible to ask a child. So what I mean is that you are here and you don't owe your parents anything. Something that was not your decision, you do not have to be responsible for."

And how do his parents feel about being dragged into a courtroom?

"My mother reacted very well," Mr Samuel said. "My father is still getting over the idea." In fact, according to Mr Samuel, his dad is now "warming up" to the fact that he's being sued by his antinatalist spawn.

"My mother wishes she had met me before I was born and she wouldn't have had me," Mr Samuel continued. "It was unconscious. She didn't know she had the option to not have kids."

But while he's had some positive reactions, Mr Samuel notes that he's had "many more negative reactions,", which he's taken as a good sign. "[It] tells me that I am somewhat right and on the right track," he said. "I'm going against the very fundamentals of human existence and human reproduction"

While it's tempting to dismiss Mr Samuel's comments as the rantings of a slightly confused man who simply wants others to know they don't have to have kids, he's actually not alone.

Over on Reddit, a growing community of antinatalists, continually debate brain-twisting issues of birth and consent with comments such as: "Breeding is inherently unethical because unborn children can never give consent to being born."

Unsurprisingly, they're loving Mr Samuel's legal action and the attention it's brought to their cause.

"I really hope he wins and sets a precedent," said one supporter. "Obviously, there's no way that the guy is going to achieve a legal victory. But getting greater media exposure for the philosophy antinatalism is an important smaller victory," agreed another.

I suppose that's one way to look at it, especially as the antinatalist philosopher, David Benatar, author of the 2006 book Better Never to Have Been, says it's unlikely to ever really go mainstream. In an article for Aeon, penned in 2017, Benatar admits that, "Anti-natalism will only ever be a minority view because it runs counter to a deep biological drive to have children. However, it is precisely because it is up against such odds that thoughtful people should pause and reflect rather than hastily dismiss it as mad or wicked."

Mad, wicked or otherwise, Benatar's view is that having babies is wrong. "Even if life isn't pure suffering, coming into existence can still be sufficiently harmful to render procreation wrong."

Why? Because life is simply much worse than most people think, he says, adding, "there are powerful drives to affirm life even when life is terrible. People might be living lives that were actually not worth starting without recognising that this is the case."

And Benatar's conclusion is clear - our time is numbered. "The question is not whether humans will become extinct, but rather when they will. If the antinatalist arguments are correct, it would be better, all things being equal, if this happened sooner rather than later for, the sooner it happens, the more suffering and misfortune will be avoided."

Cheery stuff, eh.