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As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about abortion, I want to report on a conversation I had recently with my youngest daughter, as it enlightened me, and may do others. I’ll not go into any personal detail, but it will help the reader to know she’s recently turned 30 and was, in her own words, ‘determined to find her own way.’ She was the one of our children who dropped out of church-going and went away from the faith entirely; she’s recently come back to live near us, and has found her faith again. This is a great joy to Mrs and myself. Seeing the news about the Planned Parenthood scandal, and knowing my views, she talked to me about it, and what she said opened my eyes to the way her generation think about these things.

We’ve a good relationship and can talk pretty frankly (she’s her father’s daughter there alright!). She explained to me that for her and her friends, sex was primarily seen as a recreational activity. To my response that if they didn’t want babies they could use contraception (even though I don’t agree with it), she said it wasn’t that simple. Most boys don’t like using male contraception, and the pill is unreliable and often has to be changed; abstinence was not on the cards she said. I asked why, and she said largely because of boys. If girls refuse that kind of contact, they get reputations as being frigid or being lesbians, with, she said, other girls being particularly severe on their contemporaries who abstain. So much, I said, for liberation then; she agreed, but said that was the way it was. That, she said, was why people of her generation saw abortion the way most of them did; she did a quick calculation and said that of her ten best friends, seven of them had abortions – all of them for reasons of ‘convenience’. It was, she said, seen simply as another form of contraception.

That seemed, to me, to sum up pretty much what those of us who have always been against contraception on Christian grounds had feared. It corrodes a sense of respect for women, it corrodes their self-respect, it frees up men’s worst instincts without providing anything in the way of a curb on them, and it cheapens the value placed on human life. It creates a mentality where a baby is a ‘problem’ and not a blessing. But, as she said to me, in a society where, to afford a house, both parties in a relationship have to work, it’s not easy for one to drop out for a while, and child care is expensive and not easy to come by if you go back to work. ‘That, Dad’, she said, ‘is the reality as most of my friends see it. Thanks to you and Mum, even at my wildest I saw it could be another way, but most don’t.’ As she pointed out, she’d had a Christian upbringing, and she knew what was wrong and what wasn’t, and had ‘something to come back to’ – most folk don’t and they don’t, as it were.

Against that backdrop I could see very clearly the nature of the challenge – but the answer to it eludes me – save more prayer and evangelisation.