By Nancy Churchill
As I write this, a battle is raging in Washington over whether to defund Planned Parenthood or shut down the government. As you read this, it may already be over. Or not.
If the government has been shut down, history tells us we’ll pay to the tune of billions of dollars because too many lawmakers preferred caving to temper tantrums over sending a few bad-tempered lawmakers to their rooms. If it happens that this crisis has been averted this time, and the government remains open for now, know that this fight is far from over. Because this struggle goes way beyond the latest fear-mongering and lies propagated about the actual life-sustaining care that Planned Parenthood provides. It goes to the very heart of our evolutionary bottom line.
“The evolutionary bottom line is that, for both female and male primates, social success — which reflects relationship skills — leads to more offspring….” wrote Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
Yes, procreation is the evolutionary drive of all living creatures, the purpose of life itself. In many species, once reproduction is done, the individual dies, its purpose complete. But for humans, not so much, as we long ago discovered there is far more to life than reproduction. At the same time we cannot help but succumb to the powerful need to breed which remains so successful in humans that it’s now straining the future of the very planet that gives us life.
Among many social species, reproduction is controlled by a dominant male. Usually this entails hoarding a harem of females to himself while fighting off his young male rivals. But it also includes a long tradition of dominating the female to make her amenable to mating.
I see these most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood as just the latest iteration of a 10,000 or so year struggle among human primates for this kind of male dominance over female reproduction, enabled by those uniquely human inventions, religion and law. Anthropologists have unearthed evidence that abortion is one of the earliest of medical procedures, thus illustrating that even in ancient times, women took charge of their own reproduction.
Throwing off those ancient chains of male dominance is a long process, evolutionarily speaking. Abortion was legalized in the U.S. over 40 years ago, but many are repelled by what they see as an immoral law. They want to end abortion. So now the fight to eliminate it has become one of back door sneak attacks to close down clinics that assist in procreative care.
Pro-choice people wish to end abortion, too, but we realize that, as we have seen, women everywhere insist on reproductive freedom regardless of the law, often with fatal results. Clearly, defunding Planned Parenthood is not the answer.
The answer is to make abortion obsolete. To that end, Planned Parenthood is the premier source of contraceptive care and education across the country. We should not only be fully funding it, we should reopen those clinics that have been forced to close, where now millions of women are denied services in many states.
It’s appalling that some lawmakers are willing to shut down the entire government to force the defunding of Planned Parenthood, when it is the primary source for preventing abortion. It’s time we realize that in the 21st century, humans have evolved way beyond forcing women to procreate against their will.