The family has been planning to take advantage of our little patch of suburbia to plant a small flower and vegetable garden, something we never dreamed of doing during the 10+ years we lived in New York City. But the nice weather caught us unprepared. The man at the hardware store told my wife that the unseasonably high temperatures meant that all recommended planting schedules should be advanced by one month. We thought we had a little more time to get our acts together. Such is life.
One recent evening, with a wooden picnic bench serving as an impromptu potting table, my eight-year old and I set to work troweling scoops of organic starter-soil mix into our seedling trays, made of course from the finest recycled, organic, and decomposable material. Into each individual cell—designed to “prevent entangled roots” and “reduce transplant shock”—went a single, open-pollinated, heirloom red bell pepper seed, deposited to a depth of ¼ inch by the index finger of my wide-eyed and determined daughter.
I shared her enthusiasm. It felt good to touch the soil. It felt natural to plant the seeds. It was an organic way to do some quality bonding with my daughter. Unfortunately, I’m the kind of person who can’t ever just sit back and enjoy a nice night. I’m the type to see symbols everywhere. When I dig my bare hands into soft, loamy soil, I wonder, “How come so many environmentalists are pro-choice? Why such urgency to purge our food supply of genetically modified corn chips and pink slime? Why so little regard for the pharmaceutical-ization of human reproduction?”
After all, abortion is not organic. That may sound glib, and I should maybe be better at just living in the moment and enjoying quality time with my kids, but I think it’s a useful way of looking at an issue that is almost always viewed through a political lens. Abortion is unnatural. Interrupting a pregnancy is literally an act against nature. Usually, if left alone, the little seed that is planted in a woman’s womb when she becomes pregnant will grow, thrive, and blossom into a beautiful, organic human child.
That is nature’s way. As sure as the sun rises in the east, babies are what nature wants. Is there another species in all of creation that goes to the lengths we go to subvert nature’s plan? I’m not talking about miscarriage, or other physiological reasons why a pregnancy in the animal kingdom might come to a natural end. I’m talking about a medical abortion induced by intentionally ingested or prescribed chemicals. I’m talking about suction-aspiration procedures which literally vacuum out the contents of a pregnant woman’s uterus.
It is a lot of things. Natural, it is not.
Yet, somehow the politics of this have gotten all turned around. The greenies are in league with the pro-abortion people. The same ones who promote all-natural living—organic fruits, locally-grown vegetables, hormone-free milk, free-range chickens, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.—are usually the same ones who want to make sure that women everywhere have unlimited access to synthetic compounds—gemeprost, methotrexate, mifepristone, misoprostol, etc.—that cause abortions.
It is, of course, everyone’s favorite political game to point out when the other side is being inconsistent or hypocritical. It doesn’t necessarily prove anything, but I think it’s worth pointing out. There are a great many environmentalists who see population control as the logical—nay, necessary—implication of their radical ideas about the damage being done to the earth by human beings. Some of the bolder voices in this group have been open about the crucial role they see for abortion in building a “sustainable society.”
Funnily enough, there is a way of controlling the population that is entirely organic. When I was a kid in public school, our teachers told us that abstinence was the only form of birth control that was 100-percent effective. Do they still tout that line? I doubt it. These days abstinence education is associated with religious prudery or, worse, undue pressure on girls to act as the gatekeepers of their own sexuality against the ferocious and uncontrollable appetites of boys. And, you know, nature be damned, that’s not fair to the girls now is it?
In most quarters it is fashionable to say that promoting abstinence is a fool’s game. It doesn’t work. Teenagers are naturally sexual and naturally curious. They are naturally aching to do what comes naturally. So let them do it, they say, but let them do it “safely.”
Do I need to point out that there’s nothing organic about the Pill, either? It rarely gets mentioned in a media that sees these issues only in terms of “women’s reproductive rights,” but the urine of women who take oral contraceptives or use the contraceptive patch has been shown to contain certain synthetic estrogens that are not broken down in sewage treatment plants and so find their way into streams and rivers. Studies have suggested that these chemicals have dire impacts on fish and other aquatic life.
I wonder how much more effective it would be if the public education system promoted the idea that abstinence is organic. It could dovetail nicely with the natural inclinations of kids who are hard-wired to worry about the environment. American teenagers, such as my eight-year old will shortly be, are especially burning with a passion for all things green.
If, as everyone assumes, theological arguments against abortion and birth control are a turnoff to these kids, why not try a different tack? Plant the seed in their heads: Abstinence is organic. Abortion is not.
Matthew Hennessey is a writer and editor who lives in New Canaan, CT. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHennessey.
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