In this continuing health controversy series I am going to look at two lifestyle related controversies. The first is the question of abortion. My own feeling is that the abortion controversy is essentially irresolvable until our lifestyle is corrected. It remains a controversy and will continue to do so, in my opinion, until either our lifestyle is corrected or until our society becomes an economically driven, as opposed to a politically driven society. Let us look at various aspects of the controversy.
There is almost no point in arguing about abortion from a religious standpoint, although, it is precisely that standpoint that is the chief objection that the most ardent opponents have. The problem, of course, is that our religions are all very different. Our religion can best be described as our feeling about our relationship with God. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who pointed out that most people's relationship with God is very tenuous, which, in turn, makes the relationship we have with our fellowman very undependable, if it is built exclusively on the nominal committment we have toward God. Furthermore, we have long since learned that our nominal religious committments are not indictative of our real religious convictions. Even devout Catholics do not always bring their convictions into harmony with those of the Pope, even on so important an issue as abortion. Therefore, the argument simply degenerates into which is better, your religion or mine. This may be a fun argument but never very productive. It reminds me of an experience my roommate had on his mission. Some boys were taunting him and throwing rocks at him because he was a Mormon missionary, and therefore, they claimed, no Christian. "I grabbed those kids and whipped them until they pleaded for mercy, thus proving that I was the better Christian."
The most common grounds on which we conduct the debate is moral. This is also, in my opinion, pointless. Since murder is for most Americans a represhensible crime, opponents attempt to prove that an unborn child is, in fact, a little child. Those who favor abortion, on the other hand, simply point to the fact that small fetises look like, and, they claim, are very much like little fish or other animals.
The political debate boils down to the question of jurisdiction. There is no question that if the Federal government let the question alone, that there would be some places where abortion would be allowed, more where it would not be. But the question of jurisdiction is one that affects dozens, probably hundreds of issues, debating it with something so controversial as abortion, about which people feel so deeply on other fronts, makes the debate almost certainly irresolvable.
The only hope for resolution of the debate, if there is any hope at all, is on the question of lifestyle. Currently, of course, that is a way unsatisfactory to both sides, because many on both sides of the debate cling tenaciously to what I call the "abortion lifestyle". Our current lifestyle is the cause of much abortion simply because it pushes the age of maturity down to the point where sexual immorality is almost certain to occur at a very young age, especially among young girls growing up in disfunctional families, but it is a constant temptation even among those who are raised under the best of circumstances. I remember the sorrow I would contemplate when I used to do substitute teaching in 7th grade math classes as I looked at the number of girls at that age who were fully formed and obviously--all too obviously--fully sexually mature. For such a girl the idea that she must wait until she has graduated from college before she can marry and enter into "legitimate" sexual relations means waiting for a period of time longer than she can remember--in other words, more than a lifetime, as she perceives it. We tend to forget that before the Roosevelt food plan and other government programs so drastically altered our lifestyle, that the average age of sexual maturity for girls was 17. Now it is not unusual for girls in grade school to be fully mature sexually. There is obviously an enormous difference between a girl being told to "wait until marriage" if the time of expectation is just a small fraction of her experience and one being so told when she cannot reasonably expect to marry for a time longer than she can remember.
Even among the older women who choose abortion, the real reason for most is not what we normally think. We think of those as the feminist woman who carries placards stating that "her body is her own" and appears on television talk shows loudly proclaiming that she should be able to abort a baby if it is of the wrong sex, or if it will interfer with her career, or even her planned vacation. The more common reason is that there is a problem with the pregnancy, again, more often than not a result of various health factors tied to our lifestyle.
Again we come back to the fact that so many of our controversies have been the result of politicians and political leaders misleading us in various ways, but mostly by telling us directly and indirectly that we are, because we live in a rich country, entitled to live as irresponsibly as the rich have traditionally lived.