March 1987By Michael Pakaluk
Michael Pakaluk, a graduate student in philosophy at Harvard, is married and has three sons.
I had a wild and strange dream last night - or at least I think it was a dream. Believe it or not, I dreamt that President Reagan switched his position on abortion and became a dedicated supporter of choice! The amazing thing is how logical it all seemed.
The way I dreamt it was that the President was making a statement to TV cameras from the Oval Office:
"...And so I have concluded that every argument I can consider points me toward a pro-choice stance. It's the only one consistent for me. For instance, my opponents have criticized me for proposing, in my Strategic Defense Initiative plan, a technological instead of a political solution to the arms race. I have put my faith in science, my critics say, not co-operation, treaties, and goodwill. Well, abortion is likewise an ideal technological solution. It lets us bypass having to deal with or even think about problems like teenage pregnancy, the feminization of poverty, and promiscuity. Instead, can't we just bring in the physicians with their scalpels and suction machines? The physicians of this country can build a protective net between us and any unwanted children that might try to slip by into our society.
"Oh yes, I know I've been criticized too for amassing large stockpiles of nuclear arms. Some have said that it's immoral to hold civilians hostage with the threat of total annihilation. Well, putting morality aside, let's just say that, if we are willing, in the national interest, to annihilate women and children overseas, what can keep us from destroying children here if they oppose our interests? Widespread abortion is totally consistent with my policy on nuclear arms.
"Something else that struck me was how my views on the environment all imply that abortion is fine. After all, if I don't pass any legislation protecting baby seals from being bludgeoned to death, why bother protecting fetuses? And you know that I like our convenient throw-away' society. So I welcome the extension of this philosophy into the womb. If we're a bit careless and don't want the products of conception, why not just throw them away? And it's wonderful, isn't it, how American industries and entrepreneurs have already found so many uses in medicine and cosmetics for tissue from aborted fetuses?
"As most of you know, I envision a society unhindered by government, where private citizens, and not federal welfare bureaus, are engaged in charity and good works. I call this concept "voluntarism." Well, abortion-on-demand has brought about a revival of voluntarism in our society. My aides tell me that already 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers - all staffed by pro-life volunteers - have sprung up around the country. If citizens think that the lives of fetuses should be protected by the government, well, let them do it themselves. Moreover, if abortion were made illegal, government would have to enforce that illegality, and that would make government bigger. In contrast, my philosophy is, as you know, that we should get government off people's backs and maximize the choices of private citizens. Whether citizens should or should not have abortions is a decision that should be made by individual citizens, not by government.
"And to tell the truth, abortion fits well with my views on gun-control. We're a society of free individualists. If another individual is trespassing on our property, we should have the right to take up arms against him. If he happens to be small and inaccessible, then we can hire a doctor to get him. 'Curette for hire' - that's like the Old West I know and love. Let's all arm ourselves and protect ourselves against the encroachment of others on our liberties.
"You know, someone once said that I think life begins at conception and ends at birth. Well, like pro-abortionists, I now just don't know when life begins -- so I'll treat life before birth as if life doesn't begin there. That's logical, isn't it? True, maybe abortion is murder, but, then again, maybe it's not, and I've found that believing that it's not is just much more convenient.
"So, ladies and gentlemen, those are the reasons why I have resolved to be pro-choice, pro-liberty, pro-freedom, pro-..."
It was a startling dream -- don't you agree? But actually, I found it quite coherent, in its own way.
DOSSIER: Pro-Life Issues