Pro-Life Government Initiative? Time Off Work to Make Babies

Pro-Life Government Initiative? Time Off Work to Make Babies February 9, 2011

I gotta say, this appeals to me.  In an effort to fight demographic collapse, South Korea is encouraging people to go home and make babies.  (Slightly reminiscent of a Catholic diocese that bought ads on public transit for Valentine’s Day that encouraged spouses to take advantage of their, ahem, marital rights.)

Add to that the South Korean Catholic Church’s new initiative that will give free delivery services to unwed mothers at Catholic hospitals, along with housing and financial support and it looks like you’ve got a nation, and especially a local Church, getting serious about its abortion problem.

Brett Salkeld is a doctoral student in theology at Regis College in Toronto.  He is a father of two (so far) and husband of one.

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  • Kyle R. Cupp

    Appealing, indeed. I’d like the U.S. to have some kind of universal public funding of maternity care (prenatal, delivery, pediatrician), or at least a better system for supplementing those costs for expectant mothers and families. The extremely high costs have having babies, even for people with maternity coverage, works as a disincentive to be fruitful and multiply. Our current system isn’t pro-life, regardless of whether or not it leads to increased abortion rates.

  • But not much thought to a global resources problem.

    • brettsalkeld
      • I wasn’t referencing damages, although that is very shaky ground as well. I was referencing resources. Take a look at global fish stocks alone, and that is before one recalls all of the food shortages we have witnessed in the last two years.

        We have had our water shortages as well, but nowhere near what they are projected to be in the short-term future. Then there is the minerals (and energy) issue. Many are aware of what is happening with oil, but few are aware of what is happening with magnesium.

        The Earth did a real fine job of supporting us at 1 billion humans. We passed that mark a long time ago.

        [As much as this is certainly a question worthy of debate, I’m gonna let this through with the warning that I won’t let the thread be further high-jacked by the population control issue. BS]

    • Thales

      Heh. Whenever I see or hear a comment like that of gisher’s, I think to myself, “then please lead by example.”

      I know, it’s mean of me. But seriously — although proper stewardship and care for the earth’s resources is undoubtedly important, population control is not the answer.

      • I am trying really hard to not view your comment as an ad hominem attack Thales. I do actually lead and have for years on this issue so perhaps you can explain to me what you meant by “then please lead by example.”

        Then perhaps we can discuss the mathematics of this issue as it appears, and I want to emphasize the word “appears” you are ignoring the math.

        [I think Thales intended an ironic joke, not an ad hominem attack. In any case, each reader can decide for her or himself if it was funny or not. But if you two want to talk about the joke or the math, you’ll have to find another forum. BS]

        • You can casually dismiss a thought, but when you casually dismiss reality it is still there.

      • [I’m sorry if it came across that I was only censoring you. Thales was included in my warning as well. I’m not letting this turn into a fight between you two about the appropriateness of a joke. BS]

        • At this point I could care less about the joke. I am focused on the meat of the matter good sir and that is the statement

          “population control is not the answer.”

          It is not only relevant to your post but the math is relevant to Thales comment. In fact it is the elephant in the room we all ignore.

          Simple math does not support Thales comment, nor does it support exploding the population.

      • I should also add that I have no malice toward Thales and despite occasional differences of opinion I enjoy his comments very much. Probably more than I should.

  • Kurt

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll310.xml

    Paid Maternity leave limited only to federal employees — i.e. following the philosophy of moderate Republicans (from back when we had such things) to not impose mandates on the private sector but just encourage such in the private sector by the federal government acting as a model employer.

  • Julian Barkin

    Hmmm, you know, this might be the start to reversing both the sad trends in the RCC as well as what is being coined as the “demographic winter.” BTW, there is a great documentary in 2 parts with pt. 1 of the same name. If you can purchase a copy of both, get it!

  • jacob torbeck

    I like it. Thanks, Brett.

  • I took the liberty of copying this from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:

    III. THE SOCIAL SUBJECTIVITY OF THE FAMILY

    PART TWO

    CHAPTER FIVE
    THE FAMILY, THE VITAL CELL OF SOCIETY

    234. The judgment concerning the interval of time between births, and that regarding the number of children, belongs to the spouses alone. This is one of their inalienable rights, to be exercised before God with due consideration of their obligations towards themselves, their children already born, the family and society[528]. The intervention of public authorities within the limits of their competence to provide information and enact suitable measures in the area of demographics must be made in a way that fully respects the persons and the freedom of the couple. Such intervention may never become a substitute for their decisions[529]. All the more must various organizations active in this area refrain from doing the same.

    [It is obvious from this section that we are allowed to control the number of births within each family.I was never proposing population control. Only voluntary participation when times of severe stresses upon available resources are known to exist or forecast to exist, and this is allowed.]

  • Thales

    gisher,

    Truce! Truce!!! 🙂 I’ve got no intention of starting a war. And as I said in my original comment, I knew it was mean of me. I’m sorry to offend. Your comment just reminded me of the many anecdotes I’ve heard about the stranger in the supermarket who acts horribly towards the mother with a baby in tow: “It’s your third? Ever hear of a condom?” or “That’s the last one, right? We can’t afford more carbon-footprints!” or “Another baby? You’re killing this earth! You are so irresponsible and a terrible person!”

    The “please lead by example”, said very cheerfully, is my come-back for when I meet that nasty stranger in the supermarket.

    Now, gisher, I’m not calling you one of those mean people in the supermarket. You’re not one of them. And I know that the question of global population is an important one. For your information, on this topic, I have two basic thoughts: 1) I don’t think that we are at a point yet where the earth’s resources can’t sustain the population; 2) in my mind, the creation of a human being who will live forever in Heaven outweighs the carbon-footprint or whatever other risk comes from his existence. It appears that you disagree on point #1. That’s okay. I acknowledge that you have good reasons to disagree with my point #1. It’s a point on which reasonable minds can differ. I think we could have a thoughtful discussion about it, but perhaps it’s best left for another time and another comment thread, per Brett’s instructions.

    • Much to do about a very minor punchline, and as I stated above, no malice taken. I will more than agree to move along with my plastic shopping cart and my 15 kids on topic #1 for another day.

      Point #2

      “2) in my mind, the creation of a human being who will live forever in Heaven outweighs the carbon-footprint or whatever other risk comes from his existence.”

      So you are okay with the concept of humans either starving to death or dieing of thirst, or mineral deficiencies? You could watch children die like that?

      I might also remind you that it is also likely that nations may make mad plays for remaining resources which will bring warfare and all it’s ugly possibilities into the mix. You sir are okay with all of that?

      • Thales

        (Brett, if you don’t want my discussion with gisher to continue because you think it goes off-track, that’s up to you.)

        gisher,

        I will assume (1) there is a population problem, and (2) this population problem is, or will be, a direct cause of wide-spread starvation/health problems/wars, and (3) there is no alternative to avoid these problems; ie, population is the only cause, and reduction in population is the only solution. (All of these premises I dispute, but I’ll assume them for the moment.)

        … yes, I’m still okay with the concept of “humans starving to death” and wars and everything else ugly, as you put it. I think the existence of a human being, even if it is one full of suffering and pain, is better than this human being’s non-existence. The alternative is the path to euthanasia and eugenics, in my opinion, where we begin to judge the value of someone’s existence vs. non-existence.

        This brings up a point that underlies my facetious response to the nasty supermarket stranger: Assume that population is a problem and the truth of premises (1), (2), and (3). Considering the problem abstractedly, it’s easy for the stranger to say “the world is over-populated; you shouldn’t have another baby.” But consider the problem in the particular – which is what the supermarket stranger is really saying: “the world is over-populated; I, the supermarket stranger, should continue living but you shouldn’t have another baby because there is room on this earth for me but not for the baby” Why? Isn’t the supermarket stranger acting in selfishness here and is not truly concerned about the earth? If the only concern is about the earth’s resources and population level, wouldn’t it be better for my baby to exist in place of the supermarket stranger, since the baby will use up less resources over the next several years AND has more productive years ahead of it than the stranger?

        • You know Thales, I am very old and will most likely not be around when the worst of the problems hit. What I am thinking of is those that follow me, not myself.

          That said for you to assume ( and that is what you are doing ) that anyone who speaks of reducing population levels is someone only concerned with themselves, that is not only misinformed but abjectly cynical.

          I know many who are concerned about this issue and predominantly because they are concerned about the survival of humanity.

          I do not know what sort of monsters you have encountered but I must inform you that it has created a bias in you that is not only unhealthy for humanity, it is unhealthy for you Thales.

          Convert you anger over into love and ask you priest for guidance. I too have been harassed because of my faith, but found my way to forgiveness and love.

          This all said, I have posted the official doctrine regarding the production of children on this thread. It is entirely each family’s choice as to how many children they create.

          I believe Catholics are largely very caring, very giving people. And I believe if each of them takes the time to do source based research on the topics I listed above, they will come to the conclusion that they need to lower the number of children they have, in order to assure that an ample supply of everything we need to survive will be available for future generations, and even for someone like you Thales.

          God Bless you and keep you Thales. And I mean this sincerely.

          • Thales

            gisher,

            I appreciate your concern. I acknowledge that the question about keeping the earth healthy and sustainable for future generations is VERY important. And I’m no believer in the philosophy “you must have as many babies as possible” – I agree with the Church teaching you’ve quoted (though I suspect that we disagree on the applicable factors that each couple should think about).

            What population policies nations and communities should establish, with either the force of law or the force of persuasion and tradition, is an important question. I’m sure that we could have a thoughtful discussion about it. But I’m going to keep my come-back for the nasty supermarket stranger in my back pocket. Because when someone tells me that he or she should live and use the earth’s resources, and my baby shouldn’t, that position deserves no respect.

        • When someone is pervasively contradictory with themselves I have learned that I am to forgive them and pray for them, but to stand firm on doctrine. That is because their heart has hardened to any words that I as a human may give them, and only God can touch their heart.

          I can see from all of your comments to me below that your heart is not hardened and therefor I look forward to discussing the matter further on another day with you.

          Phrased another way, you are someone I can work with, and I earnestly look forward to doing so, as this matter is truly one of critical importance to all.

  • smf

    Catholic solution that is pro-life without creating geometric population growth:

    Have all the kids you feel called to have, but then encourage almost all of them to follow a vocation as priests, monks, nuns, sisters, brothers, virgins, or hermits.

  • Matt Bowman

    In the next few decades world population will begin to decrease, with no end to that decrease in sight. Having fewer children now will make things worse. Having fewer children in this country and other western countries is the worst idea, since we are the countries with below-replacement-level fertility. The countries where fertility rates are higher are all poorer and darker skinned. It is very troubling for people here to assert that we need to reduce those populations, especially since our government has been engaged in fertility imperialism of poorer darker people for the past 40 years, including by facilitating coercive population control efforts. There is no way at all, none, to suggest trying to get the world population down to 1 billion(!) except by coercive methods and contraceptive, birth control, and abortive imperialism of poor dark skinned nations. Catholics who claim to believe in the preferential option for the poor worldwide should, in theory at least, be leading the effort against population controllers. Commenters on this blog, however, tend to be apologists for population controllers, and I am waiting for someone besides Thales and myself to actually call them out on it. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova/2010/10/06/from-the-department-of-not-helping/ It’s not something that should go by without comment.

  • Matt Bowman

    We have been hearing for 40 years that the “Population Bomb” would cause disasterous consequences right around the corner, and that drastic population cuts are needed (there is no way to do that except coercively). None of that doom and gloom has come to pass–none at all. Why would the same warnings be credible now? In fact, in the next few decades world population will begin to decrease, with no end to that decrease in sight. Having fewer children now will make things worse. Having fewer children in this country and other western countries is the worst idea, since we are the countries with below-replacement-level fertility. The countries where fertility rates are higher are all poorer and darker skinned. It is very troubling for people here to assert that we need to reduce those populations, especially since our government has been engaged in fertility imperialism of poorer darker people for the past 40 years, including by facilitating coercive population control efforts. There is no way at all, none, to suggest trying to get the world population down to 1 billion(!) except by coercive methods and contraceptive, birth control, and abortive imperialism of poor dark skinned nations. Catholics who claim to believe in the preferential option for the poor worldwide should, in theory at least, be leading the effort against population controllers. Commenters on this blog, however, tend to be apologists for population controllers. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova/2010/10/06/from-the-department-of-not-helping/ I am glad that Brett posted his initial views above, and I don’t expect him to respond to all commenters. But it is somewhat disturbing to see the “liberal” *commenters* on the wrong side of these issues.

  • Matt Bowman

    [I posted comments but I think they were blocked because they had weblinks in them. Here is a repost.] We have been hearing for 40 years that the “Population Bomb” would cause disasterous consequences right around the corner, and that drastic population cuts are needed (there is no way to do that except coercively and targeting of the third world). None of that doom and gloom has come to pass–none at all. Why would the same warnings be credible now? In fact, in the next few decades world population will begin to decrease, with no end to that decrease in sight once it begins. Having fewer children now will make things worse later in the century. Having fewer children in this country and other western countries is even a more bad idea, since we are the countries with below-replacement-level fertility at the moment. The countries where fertility rates are higher are all poorer and darker skinned. It is very troubling for people (commenters) here to assert that we need to reduce those populations, especially since our government has been engaged in fertility imperialism of poorer darker people for the past 40 years, including by facilitating coercive population control efforts. There is no way at all, none, to suggest trying to get the world population down to 1 billion(!) or anything like that except by coercive methods and contraceptive, birth control, and abortive imperialism of poor dark skinned nations. Catholics who claim to believe in the preferential option for the poor worldwide should, in theory at least, be leading the effort against such population control ideas. As it happens, however, only the evil “pro-life movement” leads on this issue. Please show me evidence of the contrary. So I am happy for Brett’s post. Actually, I do know of true liberal pro-lifers who have done excellent anti-eugenics work, so this is an area of potential common ground. See “The Roots of Racism and Abortion: An Exploration of Eugenics” by John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe. But we have a long way to go. *Commenters* on this blog tend to be apologists for population controllers. See 10-6-10, “from-the-department-of-not-helping”, claiming that coercion has not been used to reduce population. I am glad that Brett posted his initial views above, and I don’t expect him to respond to all commenters. I think contraceptive imperialism is an issue Catholic liberals should be most offended at. This blog, accepting Humanae Vitae as some have said you do, would distinguish you from Commonweal and NC Reporter and such sites and enable you to do some excellent work in this area.

    • I have seen statistics that indicate that the “bomb” will indeed not go off. That said nobody has backed of from a prediction of 15 billion humans existing at one time within this century.

      I urge you to look into the resources I addressed above and do the research and the math for yourself. I believe if you approach the matter with an open mind, basic math will take care of the rest.

  • brettsalkeld

    Sorry Matt. If you want me to delete 1 or 2 of those, let me know.
    I did not feel qualified to choose for you.

    In other news, I have no qualms about having a lot of children, in part because I am in a country with an abominable birth rate and I expect that such a birth rate will become more and more common in other countries. The other reason is because I am hopeful that my kids will make the world a better place. Maybe one of them will put the final nail in the coffin of the oil industry, or discover a healthy way to restock the oceans, or, wonder of wonders, find a habitable planet to colonize? People are not just consumers, they’re producers too.

    Of course, I will instill in them the importance of living sustainably. I will not insist that others have fewer children because my own lifestyle is not sustainable (like the British women I read about who feel entitled to one round-trip flight to a tropical location per year because their decision to abort their children drastically reduced their carbon footprint).

  • Matt Bowman

    Well, the last one is the most comprehensive, so the two previous can be cut if you want to, but it’s your call. Regarding G’s last comment, stats generally cap us 10 billion about mid century and then things start dropping. There is no way at all to propose that these numbers drop in the scale of billions (beyond the already expected drop) without targeted, coercive imperialistic efforts aimed at poorer darker skinned countries. So to propose that the numbers must drop in this scale is for all practical purposes inherently oppresive.

    • Even if you go with 10 billion at mid-century that still is too many people for the available resources. Even if we stayed at 7 billion up to that date, we would still have major problems with resources.

      I urge you to do source based research on the areas I mentioned above. I do not wish to clog up this thread any further on the matter, but this is an area which I hope VN will investigate and publish on in greater detail.

      • Matt Bowman

        Your desire for VN and Catholic liberals to address this is precisely the cause for my raising the alarm about fertility imperialism targeted at the third world, which has always been front and center with the suggestion that we need to reduce world population because or resources. Nothing could be more antithetical to global Catholic social concerns. And yet, for other liberal Catholics (who reject Humanae Vitae), they have castrated their own ability to be sensitive to or respond against this kind of oppression, and in fact they have even promoted “family planning” meaning birth control imperialism and greased the skids for western eugenicists to undermine the only obstacle in their path: the Church’s teaching on sexuality–by attacking that teaching from the inside. So perhaps VN will comment on these issues. Since most of their predecessor liberal Catholics have gone off the rails on this issue, and since VN could in fact forge real progress and common ground in this area by fighting eugenics, I raise the concern preemptively now.

        • I might point out that I posted official church doctrine on this thread, as well as clearly stated that I was talking about voluntary initiatives.

          You either misread my comments or must have overlooked them. I urge you to review the the thread and not associate my calls for a sane discussion on the matter with any sort of tyrannical motives.

          That will not serve anyone’s best interest including that of your own as well as any offspring you may create.

        • Kurt

          ZPG and like minded groups haven’t been a hot topic of conversation for decades. I don’t find Catholic liberals at all involved in promoting in birth control imperalism.

          It is also becoming tiresome to have to put up with your claims that those who are not talking about what you want to talk about, oppose you. Consider that we are just bored by you.

          (or maybe I should just say that because you don’t write about the glories of the TLM< you clearly are a supporter of "Clown Masses.")

          • You have made many assumptions about me and many more so about my associations.

            All of your assumptions were wrong, and all I have called for is a civil discussion about resources as well as a civil discussion about VOLUNTARY
            reductions in family size.

            Do not read in between my lines. Read ON my lines brother and I shall show you the respect of doing the same in return.

            Frankly I am a bit concerned about the wild-eyed responses I am getting, but at the same time, I am very glad you are providing excellent contrast to my civility.

          • brettsalkeld

            I think Kurt was talking to Matt.

        • Matt Bowman

          I don’t think it’s possible to discuss population reduction from a liberal perspective without dealing with eugenic imperalism head on. It would ignore history and present activity.

          • While I am fairly certain your were not addressing me I felt compelled to let you know that I will let liberals address your comment themselves, but I can tell you my approach to the issue is motivated out of compassion and concern with an eye only toward assuring there are good Catholics still having intense debates 500 years from now.

            The only dogma I have to respect in my life is Church doctrine, and I think that covers all the Dogma I shall ever need ( and as a humorous aside, ever want ).

  • Thales

    gisher,

    Just to let you know, I think that I’m more sensitive to this topic because my brother has Down’s. On the list of those determining whose existence is valuable and whose existence is an undue strain on Earth’s resources, we all know where my brother falls. And that is terrifying to me.

    • I don’t think I have ever once suggested that anyone’s existence is more valuable than another, nor would I. I have seen Catholics on VN suggesting that one persons death is more meaningful than another and I find both ideas to be morally reprehensible.

      Rest assured Thales that I am not talking about assigning a value to one life over another. I am talking about assigning a value to the whole of human life in general. I am talking about not only responsible stewardship, but about valuing the continued existence of man, as well as minimizing the suffering future generations ( and perhaps event current ones ) have to endure.

      We are on the same page Thales. I do look forward to the continuing discussions. Much so.

      • Thales

        gisher,

        You didn’t so suggest, and I didn’t think that you so suggested. I wasn’t trying to make a response to you — I was just sharing a little bit of my background.

        I look forward to future discussions too.

        • I actually got that you were sharing with me an important component of what has formed your views on the matter, and I truly appreciate you sharing it with me.

          If I may say so, I too have encountered identical hostility and disrespect. If you look at some of the recent comments to me in this thread, you will see that I actually get it from both sides in the debate.

          I am interested in talking with anyone who is willing to discuss this issue, and do expect that the radical extremes will scream with the loudest of voices. They always do on every issue.

          That is because they are not interested in a conversation, they are interested only in dictating.

          Thank you so very much for meeting my grasp half way across the aisle. That is an expression of love, which is what we are all supposed to be about in the first place.

          You sir, represent our Church very well.

    • Thales,

      I have a niece who is developmentally disabled. She is about 20 now, and although she went to some of the finest schools in the country, she never learned to read or write. She will never be able to get a job and contribute anything to her own support. When my sister and brother-in-law are no longer to take care of her, she will have to go into some kind of group home or institution.

      It may be rational to worry about what how the “post-born” disabled will be treated if so many of the “pre-born” disabled are aborted, but I would have to say I see no evidence at all that the mentality that finds it acceptable to abort babies with genetic disorders has influenced the way we treat the “post-born” disabled. My niece is much better off to have been born around 1990 that she would have been had she been born 20 or 30 years earlier. I think if there are any people who feel we do too much for the disabled nowadays, they would be on the right, not on the left.

      So one might think that one possible outcome of the freedom to abort babies with genetic disorders would be to value “post-born” people with genetic disorders less. But it just doesn’t seem to have happened or to be happening. In general, I think it is the same people who support abortion (political liberals) who are the most likely to be sensitive to the needs of the disabled.

      • Thales

        David,

        There is no doubt that disabled are better off nowadays than they were 20 or 30 years ago: due to the great goods of the advances in medicine, in scientific understanding of disorders, in mental and physical therapy, in treatment etc., it is much better than the travesty of institutionalization that happened in the “old days”.

        But you don’t think the mentality that finds it acceptable to abort babies with genetic disorders has influenced the way we treat the “post-born” disabled? I guess you’re more optimistic that I am. Maybe you haven’t experienced the expressions of disdain that my family has received over the years with regard to my “post-born” brother (eg, that he was an unfortunate mistake, that my mother should have known better to try to have another child, etc.)

        I acknowledge that societal norms still protect the disabled, thankfully, but I foresee that this will begin to change. Right now, the presumption from doctors and health care professionals is that the life of Downs people is not really worth it, and that abortion is to be desired. IMO, it’s just a matter of time before that presumption extends to living Downs people.

        I think if there are any people who feel we do too much for the disabled nowadays, they would be on the right, not on the left. Maybe. On the other hand, the most famous person with Down’s in America today is Trig Palin, and there is a certain amount of nastiness directed at him from the left (of course, due to his mother.)

        • Kurt

          I’ve never heard a word of nastibes from any figure on the political left towards Trig Palin.

          It has been a heartache for me to hear of notable Catholic conservatives claim anyone who voted for Obama is a baby-killer even if they claim to be pro-life, an accusation that obviously extended to Sarge and Eunice Shriver (of happy memory) and many other leaders of Special Olympics.

          • Thales

            Kurt,

            An internet search for Trig Palin will turn up examples.

            I was thinking more about David’s claim that the “left” is more sensitive to the needs of the disabled, and I realized that this was not my experience. Of those who I’ve encountered who are most sensitive to the needs of the disabled (such as those who work with the disabled, live with the disabled, etc.), they tend to be against abortion rights and on “the right.”

            I don’t deny David’s impression. Instead, I suspect that this difference is due to the differing social circles we run in; for me, those concerned about the disabled tend to be on “the right” and for David, they tend to be on “the left.”