A World of Trade-offs

Life is a game of tradeoffs: You invest to get a return and you walk away from other choices in order to pursue one. Reproduction follows this game. Some thoughts on contraception, abortion, reproduction and “sanctity of life.”

It’s ridiculous to promote Natural Family Planning/Abstinence and call modern contraception abortion in the same breath –  both are methods of contraception / birth control (prevention of pregnancy) and manifestations of humanity’s reproductive freedom.

Reproductive freedom is the ability to choose the terms of reproduction. The concept is not absolute and will be limited by authority or norms, but it is usually in the government’s best interest to allow or promote this freedom.

There is virtually no difference in intent – to control reproduction – when a woman pops a pill to get pregnant or to avoid pregnancy, when a man counts the days when his wife isn’t fertile or when a girl decides to have children when she is financially independent. All of these people practice reproductive freedom in a variety of ways.

Modern contraception may include ‘objects’ to control pregnancies, but both natural and modern contraception are of the same ilk: they use the gifts of science and the will of humans to control reproduction.

Abortion is also a manifestation of reproductive freedom and it will always be a contentious issue. Humans eventually stumble on contradicting choices such as the further propagation of life versus a better quality of life along with the philosophical baggage associated with each choice. Sometimes, the choice is obvious and simple like not choosing to reproduce simply because you can, or difficult and heartbreaking like this mother of four with a fifth and most likely fatal pregnancy.

Regardless of what your beliefs are when “life” or pregnancy starts, the success of reproduction does not end at birth (pregnancy carried to term) but at the point when the child grows into an adult and passes his or her genes along. It’s a personal opinion that fertilization is not the beginning of such success; preceding choices and events such as mate selection, human investments, unexpected or uncontrollable circumstances of the parents do not even make half of the prelude to this success.

The sanctity of life should be not limited to the fetus or the blastocyst attempting to attach to the mother’s womb. The sanctity of life should extend to the mother, who endures suffering and risks most of herself during pregnancy and to the father, who decides to protect the mother in her time of vulnerability. The concept of the sanctity of life becomes hollow when it purports that life is not made of choices or when choices are always very clear cut.

In the history of mankind, not a single blastocyst, fetus, infant or child survived to adulthood without a mother and/or adult figure making the necessary investment and sacrifices. If the fetus or the infant is precious; the parents especially the mother should be equally and unquestionably considered precious as well.

Life is a game of tradeoffs and each choice has a price and a return; the prices can be small or steep, the returns can be rewarding or damning – but it is the individual who mostly pays the price and reaps the consequences whether he or she followed the dictates of an authority.

The proof of the success of reproductive freedom echoes today – in our genetic variety thanks to our familial and ancient African ancestors who dictated their terms of reproduction and by the prosperity of the first world countries that enacted public policies to ensure that freedom for their constituents.


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