Supply and Demand

As already mentioned, I have refrained from airing my political opinions on this or any other online platform. I don’t believe for one minute that anything I say could change your opinion, if you happen to disagree with me. I have friends on both the left and the right, and would like to keep it that way. All I’m going to say is please vote!

However, there is one election-related issue that has gotten a lot of airplay lately, and that is the issue of abortion. I have written about it before, briefly, but I feel compelled to revisit this topic because I don’t see anyone saying what I wish they would say.

First, let’s be clear: I am a deeply committed pro-lifer. I believe life begins at conception and that every baby deserves to live, whether or not his or her life is convenient for the adults who conceived it. I am staggered by the statistic that some 60 million young lives have been snuffed out in the years since abortion was legalized. I am horrified to think that I live in a nation where this kind of ongoing slaughter is considered okay. It breaks my heart.

However, what concerns me is the decades of single-minded emphasis on reversing Roe v. Wade. After forty years of readily available abortions, does anyone think that making it illegal will somehow put an end to it? Did Prohibition put an end to alcoholic beverages? No, instead it created a vast underground black market economy and gave far-reaching power to organized crime. Of course the same thing will happen if abortions once again become illegal. There are always people who are more than willing to be paid to provide a service that is in high demand—whether or not it is legal.

Does that mean I am in favor of keeping abortion easy, cheap, and legal? Heaven forbid. But it does seem to me that we have been desperately grabbing the wrong end of the stick. The only thing that will ever have a real impact on the number of abortions is a decrease in demand. As long as people want to kill their unborn babies, they will find a way, whether it is legal or not. So what I can’t help wondering is this: why aren’t we, as a pro-life movement, doing more to reduce the demand by promoting the value and sanctity of human life, by playing up the positives of parenthood, by facilitating adoption more, and by applauding women who choose life in difficult circumstances?

Why have we accepted the notion that babies are burdens which we must bear as some kind of onerous duty? If even we, as pro-lifers, see babies as burdens to be prevented (via contraception) whenever possible, how are we going to convince others that they should keep the babies which they conceived but then didn’t want? In my mind, there is a disconnect here. Abortion advocates don’t realize how truthful they are when they say, “We want to live in a world where every baby is wanted.” They think the answer is to kill all the unwanted babies. I think the answer is for people to want their babies!

This is something that has changed dramatically in the last hundred years. If you read novels written in the 1800s to early 1900s, you will be struck by how desperately every married woman wants children, and how they mourn if it seems they will be denied this ultimate blessing. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book written during that era where a wife is glad to be barren, or where she is dismayed by motherhood—and when a character finds out she is expecting, she goes into overdrive to knit and sew precious little clothes for her longed-for baby.

All that changed with the advent of easily-obtained contraception and the massive entry of women into the workforce that occurred during and after the second world war. I have no argument with women who choose career over family. I don’t understand their priorities, but that is their choice. I can’t help thinking if their career is their priority, it might not be much fun for their children anyway. However, the truth that so many seem to ignore in this debate is that almost every woman now has the choice whether or not to conceive a child. We all know what activity leads to conception, and that’s the time when a woman needs to exercise control over her body, assuming she hasn’t had the forethought to avail herself of contraceptive measures.

I’m not sure what the answer is, how we can convince people that all human life is a divine and precious gift. How do you convince a teenaged girl that the child inside her is a gift from God, a gift that would be eagerly welcomed by someone else if she herself does not want it? How do you convince a career woman who “accidentally” gets pregnant that maybe it’s time to reassess her priorities and channel her formidable energy into raising a human being who will be an asset not only to her personally, but to her community? I don’t know, but I think these are the sorts of questions we should be asking ourselves at least as often as we search for ways to chip away at the legality of abortion.

To me, it is kind of like taking ibuprofen for a headache that is caused by a brain tumor. The pain might lessen for a while, but it will be back because you’ve only treated the symptom, not the cause. In my opinion, abortion is a symptom of an underlying illness, and the illness is a callous devaluation of human life—not only in the womb, but in old age, in terminal illness, etc. We can’t hope to cure the illness by only trying to ameliorate the symptoms. The only “cure” is to bring back a reverence and respect for human life generally, and I fear that reversing the current trend toward assisted suicide and euthanasia, in addition to abortion, will be very difficult if not impossible, at least on a national scale. I like to think, though, that those of us who value life may be able to inspire a handful of others to value it too, by showing compassion and setting a life-affirming example. In service of that goal, how about if each of us, you and me, choose to live our lives with such ferocious enthusiasm and joy that others will catch our vision and love of life. Live like you mean it!

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