While the abortion debate often revolves around the many difficulties a pregnant woman might face, one of the most effective ways to prevent such difficulties is to educate young people in self-control.
Modern culture has a tendency to link personal happiness to instant gratification and particularly, sexual satisfaction, promoting the idea that the only way to fulfillment is through engaging our sexual impulses.
However, St. John Paul II repeatedly explained throughout his life that true happiness is found in authentic love. He mentioned this in an Angelus message reflecting on the life of St. Maria Goretti.
Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following the impulses of pleasure but by living life with love and responsibility.
This same truth is explored in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, pointing to chastity as the path to lasting happiness.
Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.”CCC 2339
Self-control is certainly not easy, and is a lifelong endeavor.
Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life. The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.CCC 2342
This type of self-mastery is a virtue that is not held up in popular culture and is not often taught to young men, who are in most need of resisting their sexual impulses.
If we want to reach a future where abortion is never considered, the first step is forming young people in true authentic sexual freedom, which recognizes the “theology of the body” and the proper place of sexuality in married life.