The pro-life, pro-choice controversy continues to be a hot political topic, one of the most personal and passionately held views for so many women and men on both sides of the issue. From personal observation over the years, I can relate that some of the most passionate pro-life advocates have been those who have experienced the pain of abortion.

My perspective is one of a husband, a father of five, a grandfather of two with another one or more in the oven, and a son. As an only child, I grew up wanting my parents to adopt an older brother for me. When I first considered marriage, one of the non-negotiables was that my wife-to-be would be from a large family and willing to have many children. I also expected she would be a Republican. In those days I was beginning to believe the only way to grow the GOP would be to birth them.

As an un-hyphenated American, I believed then and still do that America will survive, prosper and defend freedom if and only if we continue to encourage self-reliance, to support and defend the family first, and to realize that America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave. This belief of course runs counter to nanny-government, me first, and the hate America crowd. For better or for worse, this is America, one of the last places on the planet where you can freely choose to openly hate your homeland and its founding values without getting jailed or shot. Not all choices are good choices; not all change is for the better.

Mark Steyn, in his excellent book “America Alone,” writes about population demographics showing statistically that if we don’t keep our birth rates up in the West while the Islamo-fascists are reproducing at alarming rates in the East, we may someday wake up to a call to prayer from a muezzin as is now happening in “Eurabia.” Instead of worrying about sustaining the GOP as I did many years ago, perhaps we should be more concerned about sustaining the USA as we know it today. I realize this may be somewhat of a different twist favoring pro-life on grounds that the survival of Western culture may depend on it, but Steyn makes a very compelling case.

As a Republican, I strongly believe in individual freedom that carries with it the corresponding responsibility to make “correct” choices. As the proud father of a wonderful, beautiful daughter, I’ve taught her that pro-choice means whether or not to make love with her husband, that we’re not morally built to act like animals running around having sex whenever “the urge” hits with whoever strikes our fancy. I trust that she, as well as our four sons, understands that once the choice to make love with your spouse has been made, there’s a corresponding reproductive responsibility to follow through with any life that may be conceived, that the inalienable right to life declared in the U.S. Declaration of Independence is a precursor to liberty, the power to choose.

Once life is conceived, there is a corresponding responsibility to nurture it, regardless of the means of conception, planned or unplanned. For some, this is a hard truth, but it is nevertheless absolute truth outside the minds and opinions of men and women. Each and every individual life has value that is to be preserved, protected and defended.

If only in the context of “America Alone,” we should have more American babies; it really doesn’t matter to me if they’re red or blue. If for any reason we can’t keep the babies we make ourselves, we should put them up for adoption — if only to keep our birth rates up. Otherwise, we could someday find ourselves living under a tyrannical totalitarian Islamo-fascist theocracy where they stone people for having sex out of marriage instead of praying for them, forgiving them and restoring them to correct moral behavior.

I don’t mean to be alarmist. I do mean to provide food for thought. If you think about it, it would be a lot more fun to make love and raise babies than to respond to the latest global warning from government planners telling us why we need to mobilize for war or “the moral equivalent of war,” which in one way or another always results in further erosion of individual liberty and more government.

The moral of this story is that reproductive rights carry with them the corresponding responsibility to make the correct choice to preserve life. Our freedom may someday depend on making the eternal choice for the inalienable right to life over death.

Hayes Gahagan of Presque Isle is a former state senator from Aroostook County and a member of the Republican State Committee.