On the Root Cause of Abortion

You know, I don’t usually talk about abortion. Not that I don’t think it’s a vital issue, but, well, it isn’t ‘my’ issue. That is, there are so many other voices speaking more forcefully on it that it seems to me that my rhetorical talents (such as they are) are better applied in other topics that seem to me under represented.

But I’m going to say something about abortion today. I’m not going to argue about how and why it’s wrong because, again, other people have done that better and, really, what does it say about the world we live in that “killing babies is wrong” is a major point of contention?

Rather, I’m going to talk about what certain people in the ‘pro-life’ movement call the “root causes.” But, the root causes aren’t what we’re told they are. They aren’t poverty and they aren’t welfare, and they certainly have nothing to do with capital punishment or any of that ‘culture of death’ stuff.

If you want to destroy the root causes of abortion, you have to destroy the sexual revolution, because there is no other. Our insane ideas about sex are at the root of abortion. Oh, yes; poverty can and does pressure individual women into seeking abortion out of fear or desperation. That has always been so. But we’re not talking about individuals; we’re talking about society, and obviously the establishment of infanticide as a sacred social institution which a large part of the country will fight tooth and nail to preserve and expand has nothing to do with poverty. Political parties, rich celebrities, and intellectual elites do not march in the streets to cheering crowds in order to defend an impoverished mother’s act of desperation Abortion as we know it is not the result of poverty; it is the logical outcome of our ideas of sex.

We have established a culture – a civilization, really – in which one of the key unalienable rights of mankind (indeed, perhaps the most important) is the right to use sexuality as one sees fit. That is, if you want to have children, you can, but if you don’t want to have children, there is no reason you should just because you want to enjoy the reproductive act. What it means and what it does is entirely up to you; it can be simple recreation, a part of a committed relationship, an expression of love between individuals of the same sex, or what have you. You decide what sex means to you; this is held to be the sacred and inviolable right of ‘sexual expression.’

Problem is, all this is completely insane.

When the First Amendment gave the right to free speech, all it had to do was restrain the authority of the government; if a man wants to say something unpopular, then all that is required is that no one stop him. The Bill of Rights declares that the government, at least, will not do so. That is pretty much the definition of a ‘right:’ something that you have the power to do, but may be prevented from doing by law. To have the right to bear arms, for instance, means that, if you choose to buy a gun, the law will not stop you; there being such things as guns, which are often sold and which a man of ordinary capabilities can possess and carry.

But our ‘right’ to sexual expression is not like that. Here we’re declaring that a biological system ought to be whatever the individual declares it to be. We’re trying to impose human law on nature, to force her by fiat to obey our wishes. It’s rather like if we made hurricanes illegal and then, like Xerxes, attempted to chastise the sea when they came anyway, or if we granted people the ‘right’ to fly and then sued the Empire State Building when they failed to fly off the observation deck.

Because no matter what the law says, sex does not change to suit our wishes. It’s a part of nature, and nature’s law trumps ours. So, you can say “Oh, it’s just a little fun between grown-ups and I’m not trying to have a child,” but, guess what? You just made another human life, because that’s what sex does and has done for about half-a-billion years, and your personal desires don’t change that.

At that point our two choices are either to recognize that sex is what it is no matter what we say (requiring us to tear down the whole structure of the sexual revolution and impose social and legal norms to recognize this fact), or we can work out some kind of loophole that allows us to keep up the pretense of a right to sexual expression. Since this right is very convenient for a lot of people, individuals usually and society always goes with the latter. Hence, abortion, contraception, and the rest of that sordid architecture.

A right to sexual expression can only exist it is if there is a way to get rid of children once conceived. If we can pretend that unborn life ‘doesn’t count,’ then we can continue to prop up the flimsy premise we’ve built our current culture upon.

As long as society as a whole accepts the premise of that ‘right,’ abortion will remain legal (and there are also a lot of other Very Bad consequences, but that’s too much to get into right now). The only way that we can destroy abortion as an institution is by destroying the sexual revolution and all its attendant ideas. That is what the pro-life movement should be directed towards.


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