"If you are saying that a child is more important than a cat in the abstract, I get that. But it's profoundly insulting to suggest that others' emotional lives or priorities should be treated with disrespect unless they have children."
No such suggestion has been made, at least not by me (Kathleen up above). Of course I respect artists' devotion to their art, catlovers' devotion to their cats, and hey, if you derive deep satisfaction from collecting toenail clippings: good for you. Whatever floats your boat.
But I am, indeed, saying that a child is more important than a cat or any such other object of devotion as one might pursue - in the abstract AND in the specific. Like another poster above said, having children is no excuse not to get your work done. But when it come to scheduling regular meetings time that are convenient for those with family life, for example, this is much more important than accommodating your toenail clippers' support group meeting or picking up your dog at the groomer's. Or making it out of town for your weekend getaway.
Also when it comes to judging someone's professional record. Decreased productivity due to bearing and raising small children deserves much more respect from the profession than it does now, and certainly more respect than would be offered to someone with decreased productivity due to a hobby, however passionately it is pursued. This is because having children is a nearly universal human phenomenon and the profession should make room for women and men - and especially women - who want family life in addition to a career in research and teaching