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Fortune Cookie

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November 2013

Sixty years ago it was a curiosity.  Not anymore.  China and its wonders are now well known.  Chinese civilization predates the development of the West by centuries.  Papermaking, gunpowder, printing, and the compass were invented in China.  Who invented folding umbrellas, mechanical clocks, and paper money?  You guessed it.  The list of Chinese inventions is long.

Surprisingly, the fortune cookie is not on it.  Nineteenth century Japanese bakers designed the original fortune cookie.  The cookie made its appearance in San Francisco around the turn of the last century.  In 1983 there was even a mock historical trial over its origin.  The Japanese won.  But the Chinese popularized the fortune cookie.  No Chinese restaurant worth its soy sauce would serve a meal without a fortune cookie.  They’re tasty, but that’s not why diners so enjoy them.  They want to read the prophecies on those little slips of paper, messages like “for success today look to yourself first” or “your dearest wish will come true.”  The list of fortune cookie prophecies is probably longer than the list of Chinese inventions.

One of the more famous messages is one of the most ominous: Be careful what you wish for; you may get it.  It speaks a universal truth that we can be hurt by the very things we want.  We are living that truth right now.  In the war over women’s liberation, sex was the major battleground.  Women sought the legal power to control their bodies in whatever way they saw fit.  By the ’60s, contraception had already taken firm hold, but to the movement it was not enough.  Contraception did not always work, and when it failed, a woman would be saddled with the responsibility of a child.  That could be a game changer as to future life plans.  And they knew that in an era of “free love,” irresponsible sex partners would walk-or more likely run-away forever, leaving them without support.  The movement wanted the power that men seemed to enjoy-the power to say no to a child.  It saw legal abortion as the way to it.  In 1973, a divided Supreme Court agreed.  The liberation movement’s dearest wish came true.

Yet legal abortion didn’t turn out to be so liberating after all.  In April 2013, a military police officer from Missouri pled guilty to killing a woman and her unborn child because he believed that the child’s birth would ruin his military career.  In Queens, New York, a man stabbed his girlfriend 20 times in the stomach for refusing to have an abortion, killing both mother and baby.  The murder occurred on the baby’s due date.  In Florida, a man has been charged with the first-degree murder of an unborn child for tricking his pregnant girlfriend into taking Cytotec, a drug that induces contractions and causes an abortion. He gave her the pills in a prescription container mislabeled as an antibiotic. The girlfriend experienced days of heavy cramping and bleeding before her baby died. She had been resisting the man’s pressure to have an abortion.  Stories abound about the violence against women not wanting to abort their babies.

Even when violence is not involved, women are often coerced into abortion. The estimates range as high as 64 percent. Recently it was learned that in 2007, NBA player J. J. Redick entered into an abortion contract with his pregnant girlfriend.  She agreed to undergo an abortion in return for Redick’s maintaining a social relationship with her for a year.    If things were not going well, Redick could pay her $25,000 and send her packing.  If she refused an abortion, he could dump her immediately.  Oh, and she had to prove both her pregnancy and the abortion.  What a guy.

Why has legal abortion has become a nightmare for women?  For one, legal abortion is not about freedom at all.  Freedom does not require killing for its exercise.  Legal abortion is about power.  And it’s about violence.  The movement’s desire for women’s full control was so strong that it was willing to take the lives of innocent human beings to get it.  The defenseless unborn were given no voice. The courts were unwilling to protect their interests.  It became a case of “might makes right.”   The abortion laws fell.  But invalidating the laws has left many women vulnerable to men. Women not wanting abortions are often powerless to stop men claiming the same “right” to end a partner’s pregnancy.  Women can’t fall back on the laws to protect themselves.  Some men use violence to get their way.  That’s the problem when a “right” is based on power: there is always someone more powerful.  The result has been tragic.

Legal abortion has also encouraged irresponsibility in men.  The prospect of having a child discouraged some men from engaging in sexual intercourse.  When pregnancy resulted from pre-marital intercourse, some men would stand by the woman, whether through marriage or child support.  But with the legalization of abortion, neither is necessary.  A man can solve his problem with a quick fix at the local abortion mill.  He just needs a line, and men are experts at lines.  “I’ll be ready next time,” or more pointedly, “If you want me, you’ll do this.” Whatever works.   It’s hardly surprising that Hugh Hefner, whose Playboy philosophy reduces women to sex objects made to be discarded, was a financial supporter of the fight to abolish abortion laws.  Hefner understood the reality only too well. Legal abortion liberates men, not women.

Legal abortion has been nothing but bad for women, for men, for the entire culture.  That’s because it denies our God-given roles. God has appointed woman as the bearer of the next generation.  She carries His gift-human life-and so He has given her the strength and desire to guard the gift.  God has appointed man as woman’s provider and protector so that she may bear and nurture the gift.  In their roles, man and woman serve each other and the greater good.  But contrary to God’s plan, legal abortion puts self ahead of other.  It turns good people from protectors to aggressors.  The result is what we’ve seen for the last 40 years: dead babies, hurting partners, a crumbling family structure, and a culture positively lost in the darkness.

There is another cookie message: “The most useless energy is trying to change what and who God created.”  We’ve wasted enough energy, not to mention humanity, on legal abortion.  We know where our true fortune lies.  It’s not in a wish gone very bad.

Paul Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on pro-life topics.  He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, and have six kids.

©  2013 Paul V. Esposito.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Comments?  Visit us at

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