Much has been written about the life and achievements of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died at age 56 of the effects of pancreatic cancer early this month. But the thing that intrigued me about the man and his life was that he was adopted.
Though I've never used an Apple or a Mac computer in my life, I have seen them in use and have been astounded at what a Mac can do. There is no doubt that Mr Jobs was a creative genius who revolutionised the way we do things with his visionary work and that he changed forever the way we communicate. He must rank among the greatest industrial innovators of the 20th and 21st centuries and his contribution to society was immense.
Yet it occurred to me Mr Jobs' destiny and his ability to affect people globally might never have happened. We know he was born out of wedlock in 1955 and adopted into a loving home by Clara and Paul Jobs in which his talent was nurtured.
We know nothing, however, of his birth mother and I reckon she should be remembered with gratitude as a woman who, in the face of the opprobrium she would have suffered as a pregnant single woman in those days, chose to have the child and give him up for adoption. If he'd been conceived 20 or so years later, he might never have made it out of the womb in one piece.
As Ken Orr, of Right to Life, put it to me this week: "Steve Jobs' life is a reminder of the value of every human being made in the image and likeness of our Creator, a unique and unrepeatable miracle of God's love sent into this world with a special plan to fulfil."
Back in the days when Mr Jobs was born, there were about 1200 adoptions a year in New Zealand. That rose steadily, as our prosperity improved, to a peak of more than 2500 in 1969, the year "illegitimate" status was abolished and unwed pregnancy began to lose its stigma. The number of adoptions gradually fell away year by year until the late 1970s, when abortion was decriminalised, and has gone down rapidly ever since. In the past 20 years, adoptions have varied between 230-odd in 1990 to a mere 40-odd in 2009.
There is no doubt that abortion, which soon became not just decriminalised but heavily promoted, has had the greatest effect on adoption, but there were other factors in play as well. It became easier to be a single mum when the Domestic Purposes Benefit was introduced in 1974, de facto relationships became more accepted, and better contraception was developed and became more easily available.
It makes me infinitely sad that something like 18,000 potential New Zealanders are destroyed in the womb every year in this country, yet only 40 or so are available for adoption. It is intensely ironic to me that, while we abort so many babies every year, the state and individuals pay millions of dollars to fertility clinics which do their damnedest to create pregnancies.
Ken Orr again: "Aborted babies are deemed to be of little worth. How many of these children might, like Steve Jobs, have made an outstanding contribution to society if only they had been allowed to live. Each one of these children was conceived with special gifts. We should in sorrow mourn our irreparable loss."
Sadly, there is little chance of any relief from the obscenity of abortion. Politicians don't want to know. The leaders of the National, Labour and Maori parties declined to answer questions on that subject, and other family issues, put to them by Family First for its triennial "Value Your Vote" pamphlet.
And earlier this year the Supreme Court declined Right to Life's application to appeal to it on the question of the status of the unborn child as a human being endowed with a right to life, after the Court of Appeal declared in a judgment that the unborn child does not have a right to life.
Yet Justice Forrest Miller opined in the High Court last year: "The rule according human rights only at birth is founded on convenience rather than medical or moral grounds."
So all one can do is praise God there are still people deeply committed personally and financially to lost causes. May St Jude ever smile on their struggles.