The Herds Interest in the Calf: Looking Beyond Individual Interest Concerning Abortion

Article written by Cheyne T. Willingham

I am here to attempt a different tactic than most who have approached abortion through the Pro-Life lens. I am not going to attempt to appeal to developmental stages of humans in the womb as others have done a better and more expertly job than I could ever do. I am not going to argue for the individual right to life of those humans in the womb as others have done a better and more expertly job than I could ever do. I will, though, attempt to lay out reasons that are historical, economical, and sociological against killing one’s offspring even though there are definitely people who can make this argument with more expertise than I. I will make this argument, with my limited capacities as they are, because there are collective interests in life continuing both selfish and unselfish, and the damages done to the individual through abortion can and do reverberate through the communities.

Elephants are known to have long memories. These memories help elephants survive in some of the harshest environments Africa has to offer by allowing them to recall where old sources of water are even in driest seasons. With tusks and trunks, they will dig up water from the ground and survive to pass down this information to their young. A curious feature of this memory is that they remember death. If one of their herd dies, they will visit the site of the fallen elephant year after year in their travels and mourn the death of their herdmate. Why would animals practice mourning so regularly of a dead individual?

Likely for the same reason that elephants protect their young and elderly. Because a loss of an individual is a loss to the whole herd. An elderly elephant with memory much weaker than a human can still impart necessary wisdom to the younger. An adult elephant in the prime of their life is the strength of the herd both able to produce the next generation and protect everyone else when they cooperate. And, yes, even the young are of utmost importance because if they are not protected from the predators and harsh environs then there will be no herd nor anyone to protect the elderly and produce more young.

Or as the Priest and Poet John Donne puts it, “No man is an island…every man is a piece of the continent… if a clod be washed away…Europe is the less… any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.”

But, you might say, I am part of a fully functional Western Country with robust government support systems and defenses. I don’t have to act like a herd of elephants when I can work till retirement and live off a pension and social security all while not being beholden to the family or social structure of less intelligent animals.

Well, my fabulously constructed straw man, you are right but only on surface level. As British Millennials are now discovering, in order to support modern western welfare systems, one needs to have a larger population working to fund the system than those who are drawing from the system. The math is simple, previous arrangements survived off of near exact replacement levels that maintained around billions humans on this planet since the advent of civilization. One farmer would have just enough sons and daughters to continue the farm and the family and everyone would live in the same house, till death did they part. Since the straw man no longer desires to live in this arrangement, being trapped on their farm with their family forever, they decided to offset the cost to the community through taxation and welfare. Well, living separately cost more money, bureaucrats to manage the welfare cost more money, caretakers for the elderly cost more money, and all this cost is spread around the community through taxes which, history shows, causes upheaval if raised too high.

Worse yet, this state of affairs extends into the private economic sphere; British Unions of the Boomers’ work years leveraged their large population to argue for the best possible retirement packages from British industries. As the British Baby Boomer generation has matured into retirement, their Millennial children are becoming more and more responsible for paying to support the Boomers. Since there are fewer British Millennials than Boomers, those Great Islands who share our language and traditions now find a generation paying more than their fair share because their parents had less children. We will see in time how much that population is willing to adhere to social agreements as their Millennials put in more and receive less.

Luckly, despite Roe V. Wade wiping 60 million away from our population, American Millennials are more numerous than their Boomer forbearers as well as having less onerous deals to support their elders. However, unless increased and well integrated immigration offsets it, the Zoomer generation following the Millennials are not so lucky, and they themselves appear geared toward having fewer children like their parents.

Let us not forget, then, the answer to the Sphinx’s Riddle: “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and 3 legs in the evening”. Despite the mass differences between all three of these descriptions, they all describe a human being at different stages of their life. In the middle you are the strong who can provide and protect those at either end, both bent over and feeble, one starting life and the other approaching the end.

The middle human bears this responsibility because it is the age that is able to handle this burden. It requires no empirical testing to say that babies would make terrible factory workers, but, besides that, we can see throughout history that it is the only natural course for the capable middle human to provide for the older age (who previously provided for the now middle) and for the younger ages as the young will become the middle one day and provide. To paraphrase an argument by the Philosopher John Locke: “There is no moral imperative to use one’s strength to protect the strong, but every moral imperative for the strong to protect the weak.”

As a collective group, we protect the weak all the time. As a community and nation, we use the state’s laws and force to protect the weak everyday by prosecuting those who have used their strength to harm the only ones they can harm, the weak. If a person steals from another, that harm affects all involved: the worker of a market for their products is diminished, the seller’s income from the product’s sale is gone, and the consumer loses access to those products. How greater is the loss when an individual is taken away from us?

Because of this harm, we the people have imbued the state with the duty to stop and punish this harm done to we the people. Through lawmakers, prosecutors, jurors, and police, we the people decide how to protect the weakest of all. So, now that RoeV.Wade’s nullification has put the decision of life or death of the unborn back into our hands, how should we decide when we enter the poll booth: to protect the weak, or to not?