Steve Jobs and Abortion

Last month I finished reading a book that is now easily on my short list of one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. It’s Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs.”

But in this post I just want to make one observation from Jobs’ story, specifically as it relates to the issue of abortion.

Early in the book, in the first chapter, Isaacson is giving us a brief biography of Steve’s biological parents—a 23-year old U. of Wisconsin college student named Joanne Schieble, and a Syrian grad student named Abdulfattah Jandali. They were unmarried, and their relationship was also somewhat unstable at the time Joanne became pregnant with Steve.

I cite this paragraph from the chapter:

In the summer of 1954, Joanne went with Abdulfattah to Syria. They spent two months in Homs, where she learned from his family to cook Syrian dishes. When they returned to Wisconsin she discovered that she was pregnant. They were both twenty-three, but they decided not to get married. Her father was dying at the time, and he had threatened to disown her if she wed Abdulfattah. Nor was abortion an easy option in a small Catholic community. So in early 1955, Joanne traveled to San Francisco, where she was taken into the care of a kindly doctor who sheltered unwed mothers, delivered their babies, and quietly arranged closed adoptions.

Steve was later adopted by a childless couple in San Francisco named Paul and Clara Jobs. They were the parents who raised him. And the world would soon be very different because of it.

Later, in 1986, now a multimillionaire celebrity, Steve Jobs tracked down his biological mother, who by then was named Joanne Simpson by another marriage and living in Los Angeles.

In chapter 20, we read this:

So one day Jobs called Joanne Simpson, said who he was, and arranged to come down to Los Angeles to meet her. He later claimed it was mainlyout of curiosity. “I believe in environment more than heredity in determining your traits, but still you have to wonder a little about your biological roots,” he said. He also wanted to reassure Joanne that what she had done was all right. “I wanted to meet my biological mother mostly to see if she was okay and to thank her, because I’m glad I didn’t end up as an abortion. She was twenty-three and she went through a lot to have me.”

This chapter tells one of the most fascinating stories of the book, where Steve re-connects with his biological mother and meets an until-then unknown sister. But what interests me here is how grateful Steve Jobs was that his mother did not have an abortion. She gave birth, and Steve Jobs was given his life. And history was changed.

That’s not an overstatement. Think of a world with no Steve Jobs. But also think of the world now without millions of people who were not given their lives but aborted. Thankfully, when Joanne was pregnant, she lived in a small Catholic community in Wisconsin where abortion was not an easy option. That’s changed now, of course, all across our nation. And so has history because of it. And we’ll never know just how. We’ll never know our loss.

But this gets to one of the biggest insanities of abortion—and that’s its blind arrogance! We think we know best whether or not a human life is worth living. We think that at any single moment we can assess the value of an entire life. And that worth and value is determined at a relatively brief moment based upon immediate convenience.

Certainly there are times when a pregnancy should not necessitate motherhood. There are so many reasons why a woman may make the wiser choice not to be a mother, but rather, to give the baby to be adopted by another who so badly wants to be the parent of an unwanted baby. And in those cases, as with Paul and Clara Jobs, that unwanted birth becomes a life-changing, world-changing gift.

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