Re: More thoughts on abortion
Sep 25, 1995 11:14 AM
by John R Crocker
On Mon, 25 Sep 1995 Richtay@aol.com wrote:
> JRC wrote:
> > As I mentioned in a couple of posts (including the one you
> > respond to) HPB wrote when population was but a quarter of what it is
> > now, when the environmental effects of population on the animal and plant
> > kingdoms was scientifically unknown, when (as someone else pointed out)
> > the mother often lost her life in the procedure - in short, in a very,
> > very different time. HPB's argument was that it was "against" nature -
> > but when animal and plant populations begin to exceed carrying capacity,
> > it becomes their "nature" to begin limiting themselves - fo their own
> > self-preservation. Did you miss that part?
> Nope, I didn't. What is most noticeable in your post, however, is the
> reduction of HPB and her Masters to the scientific knowledge available at
> that time. I assume you are saying that they couldn't see the trends into
> the next century, and that was once a crime against nature would not be a
> hundred years hence?
Well, HPB couldn't even see those who in the immediate present
were holding thoughts of betrayal (i.e., the Coulomb controversy & etc.)
- and the Masters continually imply in the Mahatma letters that *much* of
the specifics of the "future" are up in the air - in fact they
continually wonder whether the TS is going to make it or not. None of
them, not HPB or the Masters themselves, claim the omniscience you are
giving them credit for. The Masters did seem to claim that they could see
general trends operating at a large scale ... but even in that they
indicated that there was leeway, that there were (as they would have said
if they had *current* scientific vocabulary to use) "bifurcation points"
where a given situation could go in one direction or another.
> HPB claims to be speaking not from popular science or from the thought of the
> day, but from the occult philosophy. She says that even if the mother
> survives, her life will be shortened and her stay in Kamaloka will be
> lengthened. This does not sound like a reliance or a concern with 19th
> century science or demographics, and I am surprised you would limit HPB and
> her Teachers in that way.
It sounds *exactly* that way, and it is not a limitation of her
or her teachers to say that she applied a philosophy to the time in which
she lived. When she wrote, the mother's life, because of the state of
medicene, *was* usually shortened, often considerably - hence a longer
stay in "Kamaloka" - but in modern times there is no statistical link
between an medically supervised abortion in sterile conditions and
shortened lifespan ... principly *because* women no longer are forced to
use coat-hangers in dirty back rooms. And women are now living on average
half again as long as they did in HPB's time. That is, a modern woman who
has an abortion will live 26-27 years longer than a woman of HPB's time
that didn't have one.
> I also strongly doubt that any populations can exceed carrying capacity.
> When capacity is full, no more can come.
Unfortunately, modern science has vast amounts of empirical proof
that populations can, and most assuredly do exceed carrying capacity. The
idea that "nature" has a sort of natural equilibrium state that species
tend towards (which was the dominant 19th century opinion) is increasingly
being replaced by far more complex
understandings in population biology in which non-linear, nonequilibrium
dynamics have been understood to govern the population blooms and
die-offs in species. Even further, a population that exceeds capacity in
a given ecosystem (due to, for instance, the sudden absence of a main
predator or the introduction of a new food source into the system) not
only sometimes becomes subject to group effects that wipe it out almost
completely, but can also take out other, linked species with them (as the
entire food-web is affected).
>It's a big planet, however, and who among us knows its limits?
Desertification is increasing at an extrordinary rate. The yearly
ozone hole over the pole is growing larger yearly. Large amounts of
farmland are being lost to overgrazing and overfarming every year.
Indicator species (i.e., species whose health or illness tend to indicate
larger systemic trends) are disappearing at an alarming rate. Etc., etc.
Modern science certainly cannot say as an absolute truth that "x" is the
total carrying capacity of the planet for humans, but it can and does
calculate food requirements and many other variables, and it can measure
current trends - and right now an awful lot of scientists are deeply
disturbed at the twin trends of increasing population and declining
resources that will be needed to support it.
>The real problem right now, it seems to me, is unequal distribution of
>resources and brutalization of the environment, not simply "too many
Oh, *please* look at some of the science before coming to this
conclusion. Unequal distribution is a problem, but affects only the
quality of human life. And in many areas, brutalization of the
environment is an effect of overpopulation plain and simple. That is, if
you envisioned the entire human population living in an environmentally
friendly way, there would *still* be a considerable amount of damage done
simply through sheer numbers. As much as we conserve, as efficiently as
we use fuel, we will need still warmth in he winter. We will still clothe
ourselves. We will still eat. There are scientists working in many fields
that have been looking intensely for the means by which to at least slow
the train we are now on, and a surprising number are reaching, through
different roads, a similar conclusion: That in many areas, there *is* no
solution (which is *not* a thing a scientist easily admits) given current
population growth. We will either limit our own population, or "nature",
but a short time down the road, will begin "limiting" it for us, and the
limiting mechanisms observed in other species are ugly and painful to
> I don't see how overpopulation is an argument for abortion of fetuses or
> murder of any class of beings in general. Rather, overpopulation seems to
> suggest more and better birth control and abstinence from sexual activity.
Again, in your opinion (and in that of the Christian Right) it is
"murder". Abstinance might be a nice theoretical solution, but is hardly
a practical one. Sexual desire is an immensely powerful drive ... one of
the most basic in our (and for that matter, all other) organism(s). More
and better birth control certainly is a good idea, but I think the issue
is not one that has any single, simple solution.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application