Randy Alcorn

The recent gridlock in Congress over approving the federal budget threatened a partial shutdown of the U.S. government. And, because that government has become so pervasively huge, a shutdown to some extent would have affected almost everyone in America. Losing the services of air traffic controllers and the Coast Guard would not have been good, but curbing the Drug Enforcement Administration and suspending the insane war on drugs would have been, as would have ending the military misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wonder just how many federal programs most of us would really miss.

The culprits in prolonging the budget impasse were the right-to-lifers who oppose any federal funding that even remotely supports not only abortion, but also any family planning, domestic or foreign. These folks claim that they believe in the sanctity of life — many of them seeing it as a divine mission to defend that belief. What they are doing, however, is aiding and abetting the destruction of life by ensuring that the earth is smothered in the effluvia of human population.

The excessive growth of human population is the single greatest cause of human misery and the greatest threat to nearly all life on this planet. It also jeopardizes law and order, and governments of any kind, including democratic republics.

The social upheaval in the Middle East results not only from misallocated resources, but also from inadequate resources. Population growth has surpassed carrying capacity there and in many parts of the world. Two hundred years ago there were 3 million Egyptians. Today there are more than 83 million, 61 percent of whom are under 30 years old. This explosion of population has occurred throughout much of the Middle East, and as demand for food has increased, so have the prices for it. This supply and demand dynamic contributes to the anger and fear that has ignited the revolts there.

These parts of the Muslim world present a prime example of the unhappy consequences suffered when reason is suppressed by dogma that results in ecologically and economically unsustainable levels of human population. The sub-human status of women and the religious restrictions in much of the Muslim world have undermined efforts to stabilize population growth there.

Meanwhile, the righteous moralists here in America apparently believe that the only purpose of human copulation is procreation, and that, therefore, safe, effective contraception should be denied even to those people living in areas of the world most adversely affected by excessive human population. They have succeeded in getting the House of Representatives to end all support for family-planning programs, and to reimpose President George W. Bush’s administration’s Global Gag Rule that prohibits federal funds from going to the world’s most effective family-planning programs. These saints consider the mere mention of abortion to be complicit in homicide. Their misguided zealotry nearly succeeded in throwing a crowbar into the gears of the federal government’s budgeting process.

Abortion is distasteful, but children’s starving to death is abhorrent. Abortion is a last resort that burdens the soul of society, but unwanted children are too often a burden that society suffers through increased crime, welfare costs, and perpetual perverse socialization as unwanted children create another generation of unwanted children. Not healthy for any society.

Abortion is regrettable, even more so when it is the result of irresponsible and selfish behavior. But such behavior is not necessarily or entirely that of the couple creating the unwanted pregnancy. Those who insist that sex be restricted to procreation, and who believe that abstinence, especially among the young, is always a viable alternative to contraception and forthright sex education are irresponsibly unrealistic and share in perpetuating abortion. Those who held the federal budget hostage in their efforts to hinder or prevent family planning efforts are not preserving the sanctity of life; they are demonstrating the sanctity of stupidity.

The sanctity of life is better served by understanding that all life is dependent on our fragile environment, which cannot sustain a continued onslaught of unlimited human population growth.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at randyalcorn@cox.net.