Today, a friend sent me an interview by Cardinal Francis Stafford who addresses in part why our country was ripe, in some ways, for legalized abortion:
Yet those upheavals, the cardinal said, trace their origins to certain "viruses" present in American political culture from the very beginning of U.S. history, particularly the understanding of liberty enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and implicit in other founding documents.
The 18th-century Enlightenment taught that liberty was essentially a matter of "choice between various options ... whatever the individual in his or her autonomy makes a decision for," the cardinal said, drawing a contrast with the traditional Christian teaching that freedom is realized only in pursuit of virtue.
The cardinal suggested that a flawed understanding of liberty helps explain why the U.S. government once denied the freedom and dignity of black people and American Indians, treating them as less than fully human, and now fails to defend the right to life of the unborn.
At the same time, in video portions of the same interview, Cardinal Stafford also addresses why abortion specifically became legal in the 1960s and 1970s:
Finally he discusses what the culture of abortion is doing to our society, both in the text interview...
The cardinal said that decades of abortion and contraception have only encouraged male irresponsibility, with the result that ever-fewer American men are willing to give totally of themselves to their wives and children as marriage requires.
Both men and women in the U.S., he said, increasingly view marriage as a "contractual relationship, almost like it's an economic relationship that expects a quid pro quo, rather than a relationship that is rooted in a covenant, that is, a total giving of freedom in total trust of the freedom of the other."
In America's "consumer-oriented society," the cardinal said, children have accordingly come to be seen as "commercialized items," who may be artificially conceived to parents' genetic specifications.
At the same time, he said, a prevalent "technological mindset" that sees others as a means to one's own pleasure or self-fulfillment increasingly perceives children as "objects of fear because they are preventing us from being what we want to be."
Such an attitude is an example of "instrumentalization," a way of thinking powerfully reinforced by abortion, the cardinal said.
... and in the video:
All of this is not to say that abortion is inevitable in our country. But the issue of abortion in some ways is more radically rooted in our country than we may realize. We need to work to transform the understanding of freedom, of love, of dignity, in order to see our land transformed into one that joyfully embraces a culture of life and a civilization of love.