The vast recognition of the astounding accomplishments of Apple’s Steve Jobs seems not much to have focused on the fact that — according to the moral views that have prevailed in the United States for most of his adult life — he, as the unintended issue of a young, unmarried couple of limited means, was a prime candidate for abortion, which the Supreme Court has determined to be a matter of a woman’s privacy and sole authority over her own body.
My purpose is not to reopen the vexed abortion debate, only the questionable reasoning behind the current state of the law, and the unrigorous philosophical selectivity of some leading jurists. The abortion issue depends on the point at which the unborn are deemed to have obtained the rights of a person, when their right to life supersedes their mothers’ right to control all that occurs within their own bodies. Perfectly good arguments can be, and have endlessly been, made for every option, from conception to birth at the end of term. Majority opinion in most Western countries is that it’s the point at which a baby is reasonably likely, with sophisticated medical attention, to survive: about five months.
The intensive activities of the pro-life faction, especially the Roman Catholic Church, have debunked the theory with which the pro-abortionists began, that it was exclusively a female-privacy issue of no more moral significance than disposing of a dishcloth. If Steve Jobs, who has been rightly claimed to have been one of the great commercial and marketing geniuses of world history, had been conceived ten years later, in 1965, or after, his parents would have been aggressively counseled to abort him. And that advice — and, if it were followed, the procedure itself — would probably have been government-assisted, even if only indirectly, by tax-favored treatment of the counseling agency.
The issue of disposing of large numbers of conceived but unborn people involves practical as well as moral considerations. At the time Steve Jobs was born, in 1955, concern was already rising about the world population explosion, and the need to seek Zero Population Growth. In this area, almost all advanced countries have been overachievers and have fallen into chronically low levels of demographic regeneration.
Instead of addressing abortion, as they should have done, Congress and state legislators waffled, abstained, and failed to do what legislators are needed, elected, and paid to do, and left it to the courts, a shameful abdication. It was a dereliction on all fours with Congress’s refusal to deal with immigration as millions of unauthorized and unskilled people poured into the country, and scores of millions of low-paying jobs were outsourced out of it.
There has been no serious public discussion of trying to promote — by incentivization, not coercion (as first India and now China have tried) — an optimal demographic policy, even as the population ages and the richest nation in history stares myopically at the impending bankruptcy of its public sector. America is being led into the slaughterhouse of insolvency by the Judas goat of unbalanceable social programs, as a shrinking proportion of earners creaks under the burden of an ever-larger number and proportion of medically expensive, elderly recipients of benefits.