Breeding for Social Change

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Jim Pinkerton seems to be conceding the argument to pro-lifers that pro-choice people have a self-destructive view. His article is entitled "The Future Belongs to the Fecund". Most of the discussions I've seen on this have been pretty lame (asserting that Democrats would have more voters if they hadn't aborted so many children, which just ignores too many other factors to be even a halfway decent argument), but Pinkerton has a point. Pro-life people tend to produce more children than pro-choice people, though it isn't because of being pro-life. It's because more people who seek large families are pro-life and because more people opposed to birth control are pro-life. Being pro-life doesn't guarantee either a desire for large families or opposition to birth control. It doesn't even guarantee being married, having children at all, or even having sex. Still, a large percentage of those who are opposed to birth control or seek large families (or both) are pro-life.

I don't think he's right that this is the main explanation for why more people in the younger generation (i.e. early college and high school) are pro-life than in previous generations (including mine, which is overwhelmingly pro-choice). You'd have to show a correlation between the pro-life youth and pro-life parents and pro-choice youth and pro-choice parents. I haven't seen such data, but the stuff I've read about the change in views in the younger generation doesn't match up like that. In fact, according to what I've read, these are the children of pro-choice people who are disappointing their parents by adopting more conservative views, not just on this issue but also on things like supporting President Bush on the war in Iraq. The complicating factor is that this upcoming generation is much more inclined to have no problem with gay or especially lesbian relationships than their parents' generation (or their parents themselves) are. So it's much more complicated than Pinkerton allows.

He says if people who are pro-choice "want to win their long struggle" they'll have to persuade by argument. I think he's right that argument should come in here, but I hope he doesn't mean to suggest that pro-choice people should try to persuade by the ways of arguing that commonly take place, since most of that is ignorant misrepresentation and name-calling or using loaded terms and euphemisms to mask the facts. If someone wants to look at the real arguments, they'd better be prepared to respond to arguments like this one. Finally, I find Pinkerton's description of winning a long struggle a little odd. The pro-choice view won out in this country in 1972. The struggle here is the pro-life one against an orthodoxy that misrepresents, euphemizes, and belittles real argument as religious dogma. The pro-choice orthodoxy might be struggling to maintain orthodoxy, but he makes it sound like an uphill civil rights battle against a dominant majority. I believe every Supreme Court decision on abortion since 1972 has favored the pro-choice position. They've allowed restriction of abortion by states after viability, which has kept moving earlier due to technology, and it's still open whether they'll allow the law against delivering babies and killing them halfway through the process. Mostly, though, they've affirmed a woman's right to have an abortion in many circumstances that a majority of Americans would consider morally repugnant. I don't see how it's an uphill battle for the pro-choice orthodoxy, even with the increasing numbers of pro-life youth. For more, see GetReligion.


I personally believe that the reason the balance of opinion is, and will keep on, moving towards pro-life is due to the increase of knowledge about the prenatal and neonate state. Especially as the information from research pictures the cognitive and sensate abilities of the unborn.

People are usually adverse to killing a baby, if they see it as a baby that can feel and know things. It is this picture from scientific research that will weight the balance against abortion, as it is practiced now.

I think the proliferation of info via the internet increases the coming generations abilities to weigh the arguments. ie The WHO obfuscation of statistics on abortion risk.

The only way that pro-choice can hold its dominance socially or politically is to suppress information and skew education.

It is the access to and interpretation of prenatal/neonate research that is the critical point of the balance.

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