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Can History Stymie Evolution?



“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

There are many quotations about history repeating itself, but the one above is probably the best known. The source is philosopher and writer George Santayana, who died in 1952. Clearly, we get the concept, but I have a new take on it. What if being forced to remember the past–as through religious dogma–makes it tough to evolve?

This is up because a tide of anti-abortion sentiment is rising in the hope that a conservative Supreme Court will reverse the Roe V. Wade decision of 1973 legalizing abortion. This will result in a collision between activists protective of women’s rights and conservatives intent on control. In addressing this matter, I would like to go to the Ten Commandments. Three are very pertinent in the moment.


First, let’s look at “Thou shalt not kill.” It could apply to abortion, but it is so broad that it could also prohibit everything from pulling weeds to making war. The latter, however, has enjoyed unbridled popularity throughout history. This commandment sounds good, but it’s clearly not very effective in some regards.

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Now the next one: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” This one was dedicated to protecting husbands’ exclusive right to their wives, who were seen as possessions. However, it gave wives neither exclusive right to their husbands nor access to any other man. Husbands, on the other hand, were free to have sexual intercourse with their slaves or any woman who was not married or betrothed. That was not considered adultery. Tricky, but possessions don’t have rights, do they?

And let’s look at the third commandment: “Thou shalt honor the mother’s right to protect her children from untimely ardor.” Delicately put, don’t you think? However, I made that one up. Why did nothing like it appear in the commandments? Did Moses edit on his way down from Mount Sinai or were pedophilia and sexual abuse unknown back in biblical times? Or if, as in killing in war, it’s not addressed specifically in the Ten Commandments, does that make it OK?

Very confusing. So one has to address this issue of the right to abortion from a new perspective, a practical feminine perspective.


Although I refer to a feminine perspective, I must give a former high school classmate, Les Fenter, credit for inspiring one aspect of my approach. An ardent and very erudite Christian, he recently sent me a paper on his research on abortion. He was trying to find a biblical quotation that would answer the simple question, “Is it wrong?”

Les could not find a definitive answer in the Bible. After all, in those days, unwanted or deformed babies were simply left out in the elements. He did, however, find that “The Bible seems to mark birth as the milestone for the beginning of human life” and that it often refers to “breath” as synonymous with life. That gives the practitioner too much latitude, don’t you think? Maybe we should leave the Bible out of this.

And his perspective was further softened by the fact that he and his wife had fostered 58 infants between birth and adoption. From that experience, they saw and heard, as he wrote, “several stories where abortion would have been a far more loving option than birth toward the possible child and the others involved.” And he made a list of factors by which an individual might decide whether abortion was right or wrong in a specific instance.

Equal Justice under Law

Of course, many adults can afford to handle this matter privately, but attention is focused on those who must access “public” medical support. These are probably primarily the young and/or poor. Gathering information to discover the heart of the problem could be done by facilities that serve them like Planned Parenthood clinics. There are now more than 650 of these, and with the way women are growing in wealth and influence, there could be many, many more to provide reproductive, as well as specifically feminine, healthcare.

Through ensuring absolute confidentiality, these sites could gather information on the cause of unwanted pregnancy, like youth, poverty, incest, rape, disease, a dangerous father, a total lack of financial support from the father, other children to provide for, drug addiction, alcoholism, and on and on. Some of this data we, and especially men, are probably not going to want to know about, but we can’t really get to the root of the problem without learning as much as possible about its cause. And we do want to solve this, right?

In working with the findings, one goal of the problem-solvers would be to make it not only all right but also desirable to seek out help the instant there is evidence that an unwanted pregnancy is possible. That takes me to the next section–about preventing it in the first place.


There have been times and places in history when matriarchy ruled. They were perhaps more peaceful than we are now, but I’m not suggesting that this history repeat itself. I think the ideal would be a perfect balance in influence, what I will call the Pat-Mat Solution, even though the masculine is outnumbered in our population. Here is an example of a critical kind of conversation that could become common with more conscious parenting. It would be initiated by a mother with her son as follows:

Honey, we need to have an important talk, so please put down your digiblister. Thank you.

The time is coming when you will be able to make a baby. No, not right away, but there are some things you need to think about now. Dad is going to have a talk with you later about how to postpone this until you’re much older, which is what we would prefer. We want you to have time to do all the fun things you’ll never be able to do again when you’re a parent. Just kidding.

But here are some things you need to understand. If you become a parent too early, it might interfere with your plans to go to college or that space school that interests you. And as a result, you might never make nearly as much money as you will need to buy that flying Tesla. 

And understand that any child you father is going to be our grandchild. If this comes up before you’re old enough to have a job and be married, we wouldn’t want you to give it up to be raised by strangers or your girlfriend’s parents.

We would want to provide for it, which would be very expensive and delay our retirement. And of course we would want you to help us, so we would expect you and perhaps your girlfriend to live with us until you have enough money to move out. Or her parents might want you both over there.

No, you don’t have to marry your girlfriend. You’ll probably want to have many girlfriends before you marry. Another reason to avoid the whole thing.

Yes, I’ve already talked about this with your sisters. So has your dad. He was really embarrassed, but I insisted. 

Yes, all the mothers and fathers are having this kind of talk. We’re hoping that it will give all of you as much time as possible to have the greatest life ever.

What song? What song do you now understand? “Nidicolous? I Don’t Wanna be Nidicolous?” I guess I’ll have to look it up.

Here comes your dad. I think he wants to take you driving. Yep, it’s time you learned.

Here. Let me give you a hug.

“We will never see a day when women of means are not able to get a safe abortion in this country.” Ruth Bader Ginsberg


You don’t like this idea? Well, let’s talk. I think we need to do a lot more talking. By leaving the Bible out of this discussion we may avoid repeating the past by giving women more authority to address the problem of unwanted pregnancy. After all, we seem to have become more civilized in many ways since the time of Moses. Maybe we could advance much faster if we could free ourselves, especially the ladies, from tablet authority. Just a thought.

And thanks, Les, for your help with my research and your permission to be included in this post. Any supplemental comments you would like to make are very welcome.



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