The Thinking 

Procreation in Liberaldom

June 22, 2012


C.S. LEWIS said many of our most hailed scientific advances do not represent a conquest over Nature so much as a conquest of some men by other men. So it is with contraception. “Each generation exercises power over its successors; and each, in so far as it modifies the environment bequeathed to it and rebels against tradition, resists and limits the power of its predecessors,” Lewis wrote in The Abolition of Man.

There are at least four ways in which the mass acceptance of contraception represents a form of subjugation of some by others.

One, it deprives life to those who could be cared for and survive. The unborn are potential inhabitants of this world. In effect, this potential is a form of existence in a community that extends through time. Non-existence is completely involuntary for those who are deemed unfit to exist because they do not fit into the modern selective breeding scheme.

Two, it deprives succeeding generations of human capital. Even the mentally unfit or unexceptional provide labor.

Three, it deprives those who do not fully understand what parenthood is the opportunity to approach the possibility of procreation without the negative prejudices created by contraception and sexual freedom. Christine Overall, the Canadian professor discussed in the previous post, made a passing reference to “enforced pregnancy,” suggesting that because the state does not stand by with contraceptive technology in every bedroom or offer free abortions some women are forced to be pregnant. This was a foreboding phrase, a new term in the leftist lexicon, suggestive of the recent case in which a couple who had a Down Syndrome child won lifetime support for the child because they had not been warned of her abnormality  and thus did not abort her. Overall, however, could as easily have spoken of enforced infertility. The sexual revolution has resulted in a widely reported increase in involuntary childlessness. A significant minority of women use contraception for many years and then when they wish to have children discover they are infertile. This is one of the wages of acceptance of artificial contraception and the economic autonomy of women.

Overall argues that the highest purpose of parenthood is to create “supportive, life-enhancing and close relationships.” But if this is true, then don’t couples have an ethical obligation to provide these relationships to those who are infertile?She contends that we do not owe the unborn existence. But she also apparently believes we don’t owe the living kindness and compassion. Viewed even from within Overall’s narrow and sterile ethical framework, it would be wrong for women not to suffer the minor inconvenience of pregnancy to help potential adoptive parents.

Finally, and most importantly, the mass acceptance of artificial contraception deprives our successors of the chance to live in a world in which human life is viewed as intrinsically beautiful, mysterious and good — no matter what circumstances or hardships are involved. This is in effect a deprivation of vitality, a depletion of hope and confidence. The effects must be profound and extend over the course of many generations.

As Lewis pointed out, each succeeding generation possesses less of this power over others because each succeeding generation is closer to the extinction of the human race.


— Comments —

Mary writes:

Overall wrote: “It’s a tough decision because you can’t know ahead of time what sort of child you will have or what it will be like to be a parent…The decision to have children surely deserves at least as much thought as people devote to leasing a car or buying a house.”

Detaching the procreative act from it’s intended purpose could only lead to this: educated women “philosophers” discussing human reproduction and family life as something on a par with a career choice or a purchase, one among many other “decisions”, to be dealt with using even more of the same approach one uses to make a large purchase; with absolutely no clue of it’s magnificence, with no understanding that it’s something humanity has always until recently given itself over to in awe of it’s mystery and sacredness and inevitability. So embarassing for women in general and mothers in particular for this woman is a mother, unlike many feminists who blast the world with their opinions. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be her child and read about what a difficult decision it was to bring me into the world because she didn’t know what I would be like or if she would be a good mother, and to wonder how many of my siblings were decided against.

Overall is missing it – she’s missing everything – she’s missing all the beautiful depth and nobility of parenthood, which is borne of self-sacrifice, of giving over, of not doing for yourself but for others. This simply can’t be overstated, for only then do youexperience the grace reserved for parents. Then you understand. Parenthood is not just one more decision on a list of many, no matter how important those others may seem – it is simply a privilege. And her message bores me – it makes life sound so business-like, empty as it would be of all the marvelous gifts available only to those who trust. How sad for her and for all those she has had influence over for all these many years.

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