Carlson on Comstock

Allan Carlson on what Anthony Comstock would think if he were dropped into 21st century America.

If Anthony Comstock and his Evangelical supporters might somehow be brought forward in time to 2011 America, their reaction could be easily predicted. They would, no doubt, be appalled by the dominant sexual ethics of this, the Age of Hustler, Norplant, and Viagra. Legalized abortion, even more refined methods of contraception, ubiquitous pornography, the broad commercialization of sex, the celebration of nonprocreative sexuality, fourteen-year-olds on birth control, same sex marriage, all would confirm their worst fears. In his own mind, Comstock would find fully justified his linkage of obscene pictures and objects on abortion and birth control. He would find equally justified his equation of birth control and abortion. All these things were of one package. When one had come, so had the others.

This connection between abortion and birth control is a tight one in Carlson’s book. They are not equal. Contraception does not equal murder unless the method is an abortifacent. However, it is interesting that as Carlson studied 1873-1973 he found that no matter how hard people tried when contraception became the norm, abortion followed. Admittedly, that is only a 100 year sample, but it is still a correlation worth considering. After reading his book, the question that I asked is can we get rid of abortion in America without also saying, procreation is an obligation, as well as a privilege of marriage?