From: Marilyn Burge                                    17 Aug 94  21:41
To  : Michael Hardy
Subj: freedom

On (15 Aug 94) Michael Hardy wrote to Marilyn Burge...

 MH> NOTE: This message was originally in conference "[FN] Holy
 MH> Smoke" and was copied here by Diane Summers.

 -> We can agree on that. But we'd probably disagree regarding
 -> where the line is between rational disagreement (WRT abortion)
 -> and fanatical opposition. I place the line where my beliefs
 -> tread on other people's right to be wrong. If we do not have
 -> the freedom to be wrong in our actions, "free will" is an
 -> empty term. And, the Pat Robertsons and Jimmy Bakkers of this
 -> world would love to see it become just that (along with the
 -> Randall Terrys, et al).

 -> If I don't have the right to be wrong, I have no meaningful
 -> rights at all.

 MH> To a point I agree with you. But with abortion we are, IMO,
 MH> talking about human life. We as a society do generally
 MH> approve of prohibitions on the taking of human life.

No, we aren't talking about a human life; we're talking about MANY
human lives. I have gotten some numbers from the Oregon Vital
Statistics people. Let's break down that 1.6 million that is waved
around constantly into more manageable and understandable

If you are willing to assume that Oregon is something akin to a
microcosm for the U.S. in general, we can work from that
assumption. Although it may not be a perfect microcosm, we have
our Bible Belt, our backwoods areas where there is interbreeding
and the genetic disasters that are the fruits of that activity, a
large metropolitan that comprises about half the population of the
State as a whole, and a wide representation of ethnic groups,
religious groups, and other various subgroups that are, for the
most part, to one proportion or another, also present in the
country as a whole.

The table from which these numbers come are more detailed than
what I am presenting here, but I input numbers all day, and don't
relish coming home to the same activity, so I'll break the numbers
down (or aggregate them, as the case may be) into what I consider
to be in some way representative of what I am trying to say.

Total number of abortions in 1992: 12,685

Out of a population of some 3,000,000, that is truly a small
percentage of the population as a whole that succumbed to the
temptation to have an abortion. Taken from this perspective,
abortions are not considered to be that viable an option by most
of the population in any given year (about 99.6 percent).

Now for a further breakdown of the numbers by age:

<15 -     79
15 - 19 2637
20 - 24 4375
25 - 29 2570
30 - 34 1635
35 - 39  926
40 - 44  259
45 +      11
unknown  193

Now comes the interesting parts:

no previous abortions:          6813
one previous abortion:          3538
two previous abortions:         1351
three previous abortions:        465
four or more previous abortions: 277

So, as you can readily see, the number of abortions decreases
fairly dramatically with each one. This tells me that women who
have had an abortion are, for the most part, truly trying not to
get pregnant again.

Now some of the things that I find truly shocking about these
numbers, once theya re broken down:

There are 151 women who had five or more abortions before they
were 30 yeaars old! Let's do something to better educate women so
they don't have to go through that! Let's teach our little girls
to respect themselves enough so they won't WANT to destroy a piece
of themselves, simply so they can have a good time on a given

More interesting numbers:

Number of living children:  6147
Total women with children:  6420
>15 with children:          none  (I think that is significant, despite
                                   the fact that 4 >15's had had at one
                                   other abortion (none had had more than
one live child:             3106
two live children:          2266
three live children:         721
four live children:          245
five or more live children:   82

I also think that these numbers are significant. Although Oregon
has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Nation at the
moment, the story was quite different in 1992. And, there are
pockets of real poverty, because of a dying wood-products industry
that has particularly hit small milltowns mercilessly.

How does a laid-off millworker with no training for any other job,
and the only other available jobs requiring a high-tech education
support four, five, or more children? In these poverty pockets,
people have precious little in life to look forward to besides the
comfort of each other. Given that, and the fact that they can
afford no other human contact (a drink at the corner bar costs
money, as does a Saturday night dance and the like), it is a
miracle that there aren't MORE abortions among the millworkers.
But, judging from the numbers, there really can't be all that

So what group can we make the most headway with in truly changing
attitudes and behavior? We can assume that a certain percent of
the >15's were impregnated by either their father, their
stepfather, or a mother's boyfriend. There is precious little we
can do to educate the girls so that this doesn't happen,
unfortunately, given the fact that many mothers refuse to believe
their daughters when they tell such a tale, for fear of losing a
boyfriend or husband themselves by believing them. In fact, often
the girls end up getting kicked out of the house because the
mother accuses them of seduction.

Except for the college-educated, it is nearly impossible to
properly raise more than three children, and provide for them an
education that gives them a shot at a decent life. And
realistically speaking, it is most unlikely we are going to make
much headway in talking a married couple to give up a fourth or
fifth child, just because of financial hardship. That is just a
fact of life we'll have to live with, whether abortion is legal or
not. Forcing these women into illegal abortions is much more
likely to make orphans of the children that are already born,
thereby exponentially increasing the hardship on both them and
their father.

Even the college-educated aren't situated enough to start a family
until they have a substantial down payment on a home, adequate
health insurance, a little money in the bank, and a job they can
depend upon. Nowadays, in realistic terms, that means that they
can't start a family and give it any kind of promise for the
future until they are in their late 20's or early 30's -- perhaps
even later. We can talk about the necessity of a woman staying
home and rearing the children once they are born all we want to,
but the reality is that few couples will EVER have the kind of
income from one parent to make this ideal a reality and still
provide for a decent future for their children.

So, reality has changed since the days of Beaver Cleaver, if
indeed that "reality" ever actually existed at all. You can only
rob your current children of just so much in order to put that one
more potato in the pot for the one that's coming, until everybody
in the family is starving.

I agree that abortion isn't a good answer to a difficult problem,
but unless we are prepared to do a heckuva lot more to provide
services for young parents, it is a reality we'll just have to
live with, whether abortion continues to be legal or not.

The one thing we can do is change OUR attitude about whether or
not a family is truly a family, even if it contains no children. I
believe there are a certain number of married couples who would
undergo sterilization, if it weren't for the pressure they get to
multiply from parents, little old ladies in the supermarket, and
many other sources within society as a whole. I remember my
BEAUTICIAN trying to convince me that a pregnancy would make my
marriage more secure, despite me saying nothing that would lead
her to believe my marriage wasn't already glued pretty tightly! It
is THIS mentality that we must rid ourselves of as a society. If a
couple truly does not want children, they should perceive no
pressure from any source to the contrary.