Much like any child growing up with a loving mother, I was often lulled to sleep by her gentle and comforting voice as she read me a story. Unlike most mothers though, she rarely read from the newest selections of the public library, instead delighting me with tales of Samson, King David and of course Jesus Christ himself. I was a young Hispanic Catholic boy and she was smart enough to sprinkle the adventure-laden stories and parables in with the more philosophical readings to tug at my boyish tendencies. Not that she needed to trick me into belief in a God, Hispanic culture being one of the last enduring bastions of Catholicism. And being a 1st generation immigrant from Ecuador, for her, belief was simply the default option.
Much as I complained about praying a nightly rosary with family, weekly trips to a special class where they laid down the moral lessons of Christ and of course the obligatory Mass, belief was the default for me as well. I even once proudly boasted that I had read the Bible front to back to her one day, only taking a slight pause when she informed me that I had just read up to Christ’s death in the New Testament and to the historical books in the Old. I replied back that those other parts were boring.
My belief never stopped me from asking questions though. What happens to people who don’t believe? Can you be a good person and not believe? Why do disasters happen when people ask for them to stop? All the questions I’m sure we ask ourselves growing up with faith. And for many, it stops at faith. We’re not to question the inner workings of God, my mother told me in so many words. Yet it was only by her doing that my sense of faith slowly began crashing down in the first place. Entirely by accident of course.
When it comes to so-called “Western” medicine, we’re the fickle sort.
We expect it to prevent our childhood diseases, cure our headaches, fix our clogged hearts, save us from our heavy diets, return our sexual prowess, ease our depression and even bring us back from the death on occasion. We’ve come to expect daily miracles from our doctors and we expect them to happen as consequence free as possible.
But of course they can’t give us that. No drug or therapy comes risk-free(let alone cheaply), biology being the complex picture it is. And when those risks come to the forefront, we feel betrayed that they couldn’t give us the cure to all our ills. Add to that the constant deluge of drug ads being pushed on us day and night by corporate giants and there’s a growing sense of fear and mistrust. Modern medicine, as amazing as it has been, has also burned us.
It’s been called everything from one of the greatest achievements in the name of freedom to one of the largest instances of legalized slaughter since the Soviet purges. Whatever your personal feelings, there’s no denying the tremendous impact Roe vs Wade, and the subsequent legalization of abortion in the United States in 1973, has had on the generations of Americans born before and since the landmark trial.
However, relatively few among us have attempted to quantify the impact those from the other side of the equation, the generations of those who never saw the light of day, have had on our world. That is until economist Steven Levitt and Professor John Donohue of Yale Law School came out with a study intended to do just that in 2001. What they found would fascinate and anger people from all walks of life, whether they were fellow economists, politicians or your average every-day citizen.
That’s because Levitt’s study concluded that the legalization of abortion in the 1970′s was one of the most profound factors in the significant and unexpected crime rate drop seen across the country in the early 1990′s.