This absurd scenario won't happen in your lifetime and it will sound crazy right now. Most new ideas sound crazy unless and until they become reality, but some of them may someday be as commonplace as fluoride in water in most American towns and cities today.
Speaking of which, when the authorities in the town you grew up in began fluorinating your drinking water, there was quite an uproar. It was called everything from a "communist plot" to "a conspiracy that will make our children be born with three heads."
The worst never happened, of course, and now--like it or not--the cities and communities that supply fluorinated water have less tooth decay problems than those that don't. That's a fact.
and Another Thing…
Here in Hawai'i, where water is not fluorinated, the number one health issue throughout the state is not diabetes, gout or hypertension. It's oral health.
But back to my crazy "dire" prediction.
At some point in the future, a chemical that has not been invented yet will come about, and it will be added to our drinking water. Presumably, it will be researched and proven a totally safe chemical. This chemical will prevent conception.
Our drinking water will become a legal, normal and acceptable form of birth control.
When that day comes, the only way women will be able to get pregnant will be if they take an antidote in the form of a pill or some sort of antiserum which they will have free access to at the local pharmacy or from their physician.
There will be many obstacles to overcome before this all happens, of course, but the major hurdle, legally and morally, might likely be the ensuing law, "legal agreement" or "contract," which would require that the potential mother and father assume full responsibility to bear the child:
"The only way a woman shall be given permission to take the antidote is if she signs a statement declaring that she will bring the pregnancy to full term and, except for cases which would endanger her health or the health of the child, there would not be the option to abort at any time after the antiserum is administered."
There are, of course, a million details that people (especially women) would have to sort out before this "law" could become a reality, but in a crazy kind of way, this changes the whole dynamic of "pro-life" and "pro-choice."
The first thing I see happening is that Conservatives and Liberals will immediately switch sides on the whole abortion issue: Conservatives will be fighting this tooth and nail, because it takes away the individual's "right" to make a choice. Liberals, on the other hand, will maintain that the person who signed that contract to allow pregnancy has signed on to undertake a responsibility which she and the dad must now honor, and that to terminate that pregnancy at any point would be considered the "taking of a pre-planned, pre-determined life into this world" and any termination would be deemed a crime of second- or third-degree murder.
Crazy, huh? Well, put it this way: You reading this right now will never live to see it--but don't bet your grandchild's estate plan benefits that it won't be the long-term solution to two major issues that must eventually be addressed in the world they will be born into--abortion and overpopulation.
This opinion column is written by Charles Laquidara, who has lived on Maui for over 11 years. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years as the morning-drive host of a show called "The Big Mattress" and is occasionally heard on Mana'o Radio here on-island. Email firstname.lastname@example.org