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These pronatalist parents want to have as many children as possible: Here’s why people are concerned

This family's story has divided the internet.

This family's story has divided the internet. Photo: Instagram/@simonehcollins

From climate change to the rising cost of living, there are many factors discouraging people from having multiple children, or any children at all.

Yet pronatalists advocate for high birth rates, with some believing the biggest problem facing the world is population collapse – so they’re having as many babies as possible to prevent that from happening.

Alongside the likes of Tesla boss Elon Musk, who has fathered 11 children, American pronatalist couple Malcolm and Simone Collins are working hard for the cause.

But their profile by The Guardian has been labelled ‘disturbing’ and ‘terrifying’ by social media users.

The Guardian journalist Jenny Kleeman revealed on X, formerly Twitter, that she had never had a reporting experience “quite as unsettling as my day with the Collins family”.

A day with pronatalist family

With guns hung up on the walls of their Pennsylvania home for self-defence due to death threats over the couple’s beliefs, Malcolm and Simone already have three children under the age of five.

At the time of the interview, Simone was heavily pregnant with their fourth child; she plans to run as a Republican for the Pennsylvania state government two weeks after the baby is born.

Despite Simone only being able to fall pregnant through IVF, the couple aims to have at least seven children, preferably all with 18-month age gaps.

“Eventually, I’m going to go in for surgery and I’m going to start haemorrhaging, and they’re going to take it [my womb] out,” Simone said.

Unlike Malcolm, who said he always wanted a large family, Simone originally didn’t want to ever get married or have children – she had initially planned to get “sterilised”.

She agreed to have children if she never had to give her career up.

Now Simone says she is the primary caregiver of the children until they’re 18 months old, at which point many of the responsibilities are handed to Malcolm while she takes care of the latest addition.

Despite claiming not to celebrate Christmas, the Collins’ 2023 festive celebrations appeared traditional. Photo: Instagram/@simonehcollins

The international trend of countries experiencing lower birth rates as they become more prosperous is a big fear for pronatalists.

Malcolm told The Guardian “there are going to be countries of old people starving to death”.

He said the issue was most critical in countries that are “technophilic, pluralistic, educated, where women have rights”.

Without more babies, Malcolm believes the only way for countries like the US to survive will be through immigration from poor countries, where birth rates continue to be high.

“You’re outsourcing the labour of child rearing to a separate group,” said Malcolm, who allows tenants to live in a neighbouring property rent free in exchange for taking care of his children.

“And importing people from Africa to support a mostly non-working white population – because you didn’t put in labour to support non-working white people – has really horrible optics.”

The couple don’t expect to afford private school or university education; they plan to homeschool their children instead.

“We also don’t raise them like they’re retired millionaires, which is what many Americans do: driving them like private chauffeurs to soccer, to juggling and robotics class,” Simone said.

Malcolm said, “When people say, ‘I can’t afford kids,’ what they mean is, ‘I cannot afford to have kids at the standards that I find to be culturally normative’.”

Online debate

Social media users took issue with several of the Collins’ beliefs and actions.

“I bristle at the notion of bringing children into the world for purposes beyond simply wanting and loving them in their own right,” one X user wrote.

“The pronatalist Where’s Waldo people have only 3 kids, a totally normal number, and already aren’t taking care of them properly,” another X user wrote.

“This giant brood of self-sufficient super children that excuses the neglect is TOTALLY IMAGINARY.”

As the article spread through social media, the Collins were quick to hit back at criticism through their shared X account.

“It’s remarkable how much society has lost its mind around this issue—that they would conflate a light slap meant to shock and reorient attention with ritualized punishment designed to hurt (something that should be taken very seriously),” the couple posted.

Despite the backlash, supporters of the Collins’ cause counted the attention as a positive.

“The way that piece is written is sure to draw a lot of haters (and thus engagement which makes more people aware of pronatalist arguments). Congrats on yet another media win!” an X user wrote.

Pronatalist government policies

Pronatalism isn’t just practised at an individual level; several countries have instituted pronatalist policies in attempts to get birth rates up.

For example, the birth rate in South Korea fell to a record-low 0.72 last year despite spending $420 billion since 2006 to address the issue.

Recent measures from the South Korean government include vouchers worth thousands of dollars given to parents for every child produced, along with additional family financial assistance.

In Australia, the birth rate sits at 1.63, well below the widely-accepted replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman.

Although Baby Bonus payments ceased in 2014, the government still offers incentives to have children; these include the tax-free Newborn Upfront Payment worth $641 per child, as well as the Newborn Supplement, which can be worth thousands of tax-free dollars over 13 weeks.

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