Should we outlaw abortion? While the embattled "prolife" and "freedom-of-choice" forces slug it out in an emotionally supercharged confrontation, somewhere in the dust of battle the real issues have become obscured and need to be brought forth for a just airing.
There are an alarming 1.4 million abortions performed annually in this country -- about one-fifth of them for women on welfare -- and pathetically the number of abortions (including repeated abortions among teenagers) continues to climb!
So what we have here is not a legislative or a judicial problem but a social one -- a moral problem. Which leads me to ask two questions: (1) Why do we naively assume that Congress can legislate morality or that the courts can mandate it? (2) Why is there a need for so many abortions and what can you and I do to alleviate that need?
Outlawing abortion isn't the answer for that would surely drive the practice underground and make it subject to terrible malpractice. Abortion, under the best conditions, is bound to cause emotional and physical distress to the woman involved.
And the problem can't be solved just by finding funds (public or private) to pay for those abortions. Or by finding money to pay for raising the unwanted children the "pro-lifers" would urge unwilling mothers to bear.
It's obviously going to take a massive reinaissance of American thinking and ideology to turn the situation around to a healthy one where the individual is held responsible for his or her own actions and the outcome of them.
I'll be happy to pass out assignments.
Religious leaders with all humanitarian individuals right behind you -- you can vigorously and visibly start living and lauding the old-fashioned-family way of life in which responsible parenting is an intrinsic element. Show by example that this is indeed the "good life," bringing with it new-fashioned American dignity and pride.
Let those passionately pleading for the right of the unborn embryo to life, consider the quality of life that an unwelcome baby is likely to experience under the care of an unwilling mother. Let them join forces with those fighting for a woman's right to choose abortion in reminding her that she had a choice not to get pregnant in the first place.
And I call upon spokesmen for welfare to adopt the motto of a Talmudical philosopher: "The noblest charity is to prevent a man from accepting charity; and the best alms are to show and enable a man to dispense with alms." Their great influence in their several capacities as social movers can be best used to inculcate the ideals of responsible parenting (having no more children than one can afford and properly nurture by one's own efforts). They must reveal irresponsible parenting as a moral crime against the children as well as against the fellow citizens who must pay for moral carelessness.
Taxpayers, let your elected officials know that you are through underwriting a welfare cycle in which dependency upon government aid is passed along from generation to generation as an inevitable, costly, and degrading way of life. Insist that those who seek funds for abortions or to help raise unplanned-for or illegitimate children take a course which would include family planning and birth control. It would also teach the concept that responsible family planning and self-support result in dignity and high self-esteem. Withholding payments from those who do not successfully complete the course would probably bolster its effectiveness.
Advertisers, merchandisers -- you carry the biggest clout of all. Quit using sex to sell everything from cars to chrysanthemums.
I leave you with this profound old saying that I just invented: "Good morals, like bad morals, are highly contagious."
Let' s start a good-moral epidemic.