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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics


Monday, August 26, 2013

Parenthood Banned: A Science Fiction Story

Parenthood Banned: A Science Fiction Story Lucy looked at the government-issued poster on the wall. It was a reminder for her to take her birth control pills today. Below the reminder was an admonition: Remember, immortals can never reproduce.

birth control poster

Lucy was an immortal, as was everyone else in her country. She did not age, nor did any of the other immortals. The only way an immortal such as her could die would be if she fell victim to some freak accident. Ever since they replaced all the manually driven cars with self-driving cars controlled by computers, there were very few accidents.

When scientists first figured out how to end the aging process, they judged what type of changes society would need to make to support a culture in which no one aged. They quickly figured out that Lucy's country could not sustain a society in which reproduction went on as normal, and no one died of old age. If reproduction went on as normal and no one aged, the population would grow explosively, and far surpass the available resources to support it.

So the country held a national referendum. Each citizen was asked to vote on a new system of society that would guarantee everyone injections that would eliminate aging, with the requirement that all reproduction should be made illegal. The advocates of the referendum ran television commercials in which a narrator asked: which would you rather have, a youthful face forever, or a crying, messy baby?

The referendum passed with a vote of 60%. From that time on, reproduction was made illegal throughout the country. Each citizen was also given a monthly injection which prevented the person from aging.

The government took various measures to make sure the new law was followed. Free birth control pills were given to all, both male and female. The government was also working on mandatory sterilization programs, but had not yet implemented them.

One of the techniques used by the government was to require citizens to attend periodic meetings in which they were psychologically conditioned to develop an aversion to babies. Citizens were required to watch films that mixed various horrifying and disgusting sights, such as rotting corpses, rats, maggots, roaches, and snakes. Mixed within these films were images of babies. The idea was to condition people to think of babies as disgusting things they should avoid having at all costs.

On most people the conditioning worked well, but the conditioning had not been effective on Lucy. This was because when Lucy had been forced to watch the conditioning films, she had closed her eyes. Lucy was a squeamish type who just couldn't stand to look at any of the disgusting things shown in the films.

Lucy, in fact, wanted to have a baby very badly. She didn't care that having babies was prohibited by her society. But Lucy knew it would be very difficult to have a baby in a society in which all males were required to take male birth control pills.

So Lucy began making discreet inquiries to various males, trying to find someone who shared her desire to parent a child. That is what got her arrested.

One of the males to whom Lucy spoke reported her to the government. Lucy was placed in the custody of the Division of Social Conformity, Department of Special Conditioning. The scientists at that department interviewed Lucy in her confinement quarters.

“So, young lady, let's get this straight – you actually want to have a baby?” asked Dr. Allen.

“Yes,” said Lucy. “Babies are so cute and cuddly. It's natural for a woman to want one.”

“Well, we'd like you to watch some films, which will give you a better idea of what it's like to have a baby,” said Dr. Allen.

Lucy was forced to watch the conditioning films, which used all kinds of crude psychological techniques to make her feel a revulsion towards babies. The first films dealt with the horrors of childbirth, focusing on long, tortuous labors in which the mothers suffered. There were numerous clips showing mothers who died in childbirth.

Then there films showing mothers who lived with babies and suffered because of things the babies did. These films had scenes that a third-rate horror movie director would be ashamed to have included in his low-budget film. There were scenes showing babies with fangs who bit the necks of their mothers. There were scenes showing mothers who died from germs that came from baby diapers. There was a scene showing a baby who dropped rat poison into his mother's coffee. The films were synchronized with a device that produced a horrible smell whenever the baby appeared in the film, a smell like the stench of rotting flesh.

After being forced to watch several of these films, the conditioning program had ended. Dr. Allen came to Lucy and asked her to take a truth pill that would guarantee that she told her true feelings about babies.

Lucy appeared to swallow the pill, and made a gulping sound.

“Open your mouth,” demanded Dr. Allen. Lucy opened her mouth, and Dr. Allen saw nothing on her tongue.

“Let me check under your tongue,” asked Dr. Allen, and still found nothing.

A few hours later Lucy was asked by Dr. Allen about what her feelings were about having a baby.

“Why would anyone want to have a baby?” Lucy said. “Babies are disgusting, horrifying little monsters, like rats or snakes.”

Convinced the psychological conditioning had worked, Dr. Allen released Lucy from the custody of the state.

But Lucy had played a little trick on Dr. Allen. The day before she was arrested, Lucy had one of her wisdom teeth extracted, and there was a hole in her gum which had not yet healed. When asked to swallow the truth pill, Lucy had used her tongue to shove the pill into the hole in her gum, which was at the back of her mouth. Dr. Allen could not see the pill in that spot. After Dr. Allen had left, Lucy had spit out the pill. When she told Dr. Allen she hated babies, she was lying.

Free again, Lucy would be more careful in her next attempts to find a father for her baby to be. But regardless of the risks, she was still as determined as ever to have the baby that her society said she could never have.