Culture at the Crossroads
Imagining a Nation without Abortion
Imagine a nation that loved all its children so passionately that it built an entire social and economic structure around protecting them, nurturing them, fostering their growth, and supporting their every stage of life. The logic of this care for children would, of course, extend to the conditions by which those children entered the world. The nation would first care about young adults and their sexual choices.
Young men and women would enter adulthood with a profound sense of how important the roles of mother and father are, and would shape their desires for relationships in large part around their roles as caretakers of children. They would receive powerful cultural messages that parents are the primary creators of community, and they would therefore be reluctant to engage in a serious relationship that did not have a basic commitment to the well-being of children. Young women would develop a strong sensibility that motherhood is a profound and beautiful vocation, and the culture would reinforce that sensibility. They would not perceive motherhood to be a second-best option for those who lacked talent for other more Important Jobs. Young men would rise to the challenges that young women set for them, especially that of fathering children through their whole lives.
When a woman had an unexpected pregnancy, families, faith communities, and civic organizations would be ready to help. If today's United States is any indicator, there would be more families ready to adopt than children who were adoptable.* Women in stressful pregnancies would receive the consistent message: We are ready to help. We will commit ourselves to fostering your health, your safety, your emotional well-being, your financial security, and your future happiness in relationships. And we will do the same for your child. We will help you keep and raise your child if you choose, but we will also help you choose to place your child for adoption so that you may be a gift to both a child and a new family.
These strong women would understand that in other nations where women have recourse to abortion, they do it because of social pressures that drive a wedge between sex and reproduction. They would learn the history of men's manipulation of women's bodies, from footbinding and circumcision to breast enlargement, plastic surgery, and hormonal contraception. They would see that societies that make random sex easy make the most vulnerable women beholden to the violent libidos of bad men, and they would lament the social pressures that make women want to be sexy to be noticed, and that make men want to be promiscuous to be relevant. They would make the connection that meaningless sex, because it is so unsatisfying to the human soul, ramps up the two-headed monster of libido and violence, and produces a vicious cycle of sex and abortion. They would marvel at how their sisters in other nations are victims of this cycle without knowing it. They would celebrate the hard-won progress of women's liberation that allowed them to fully embrace their bodies, their desires for relationships with good men, and their desires to be mothers, among other goods.
The young men would be repulsed by the kinds of attitudes they perceived in nations that didn't care for all their children. They would see many young men with nothing to strive for, no standards that women held them to. They would shake their heads at the pervasive addiction to pornography and the desperate clinging to adolescence. They would wonder how in the world their age peers found random sex more satisfying than the careful work of building a life, a relationship, a family, and a community. They would imagine it was because no one asked their young men to be heroes.
Tim Muldoon holds a Ph.D. in Catholic systematic theology and is an award-winning author and Catholic theologian of the new evangelization.