Sunday, September 24, 2006

Chastened Dr Clam

Nato presents me with a fine discourse on humility, which I ignore. I proceed to get stuck into Jim Wallis for recognising that poverty is bad but not giving any serious thought to what courses of action are best suited to get rid of it. Then Marco kindly and gently points out that this is exactly what I tend to do about abortion. Curses!
It seems that the lowest rates of abortion in the world are in Western European countries characterised by extremely high rates of contraceptive use encouraged by universal public health care. (Note to self: find out if anyone in the United States has been game enough to suggest this lately). Prohibition per se does not seem to be very helpful. This seems to suggest: (1) as with so many other things, economic growth is what humanity needs, and abortion rates can be expected to fall as more folks have more stuff; (2) ideologists such as Dr Clam should remain ever aware that forwarding the aims of their meme-bundle in society at large may require entirely different courses of action than those mandated for those who share his meme-bundle. I am a humbler and a wiser Dr Clam this afternoon- thank you, gentlebeings!

7 comments:

winstoninabox said...

It would be interesting to know abortion rates of affluent civilizations of the past.
But I doubt the Romans kept those kinds of stats.

Dave said...

A Doctor Clam whose humility constrains his righteous outrage is not the Clam we all know and love.

Dave said...

I want to say something about the apparent correlation between certain bodies seeking the elimination of abortion (a laudable goal) while restricting the availability of and access to other family planning resources and information (which is profoundly stupid and somewhat evil, in my arrogant estimation).

But I am not in an altogether analytical mood right now.

Dr. Clam said...

I guess I was saying something about that profound stupidity thing, without actually saying it, when I said that folks like me should bear in mind that it may be sensible to encourage one course of action for 'us' while advocating something different for 'not us', if we have prioritised our aims properly.
The Romans didn't keep statistics, and didn't have the medical nous for widespread abortion, but were fairly big on infanticide. I remember reading in the National Geographic some years ago about the excavation of a Roman-era brothel in Ascalon that had hundreds of tiny skeletons in the basement.

winstoninabox said...

A quick google about abortion stats for the ancients came up negative. But in proving that there is nothing new under the sun, I did find out that the decline of family values was a concern for the Romans. Only the family values have changed.

In the correction of one's profligate son, beatings shouldn't be used - because a beatings not fit for the freeborn, but for slaves.

Marco said...

Plugging a few values in my model, and adjusting for the various means of contraception, abortion and policing, in my estimation, relatively affluent roman society would have had much less cases of neglect and abandonment of children than poorer societies of the era. However there may well have been very high rates of infanticide done rather closer to birth. I suspect also that there would have been plenty of dangerous experiments with poisons etc. which would have tended to induce miscarriage without (hopefully) killing the mother. Where there was widespread education about the various natural contraceptive techniques of the time (which I believe some parts of society had informally), the economic necessity of family planning would have required less infant deaths. In short, I believe affluent Roman society would have more "babies" killed, but at a far younger age than less affluent roman era societies.

Andrew Shellshear said...

I must admit, I'm much more sympathetic towards opinions stated with humility. Hooray for humility!