In reading about the political landscape this election cycle I am repeatedly confronted by the word “progressive.” It seems to apply mostly to the extreme liberals.

The “progressive” vote is evidently up for grabs with Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Hilary Clinton all vying for their approval. Progressives seem to be, according to recent news, against abstinence education and for condoms, against any limit whatsoever when it comes to abortion and for euthanasia.

But I find myself asking what’s so progressive about progressives? This from an essay by Fr. John Hardon SJ, who I can’t get enough of recently:

The Roman Empire into which Christianity was born practiced abortion and infanticide on a wide scale. Chronologically, infanticide came earlier and was fully sanctioned by Roman law. The male head of the household, called the pater familias, had power of life and death over his offspring. The moment the child was born he could have it either killed or allow it to live. He could tell his, either the wife or concubine after she conceived, either to abort or bring the child to term at birth. Abortion was universally approved…

Pagan society, before the dawn of Christianity, was a society that sanctioned, legalized and, I should add, legislated contraception, abortion and infanticide. We have records of abortion-inducing drugs from 2000 B.C. Generally speaking, those who wished to abort had to have the financial resources. The poorer people preferred infanticide. Women would practice abortion—I’m speaking of the Roman Empire—in the first century of what we now call the Christian era. Over the years in teaching the morality of contraception, abortion and infanticide, I have found from records going back to centuries, B.C., women would have abortion because they disliked the father of the child; or because that they knew that the father did not want the child; or because they were concubines and did not have the means, both social and financial, to support the child. They would practice abortion because a child was conceived as a result of—this needs to be said—as the result of rape or incest. Every single—let me repeat—every single movement in our supposedly developed civilization in the direction of abortion, every single move is back, back, back to what society had been at the dawn of Christianity. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of what I am saying.

How long can we call them progressives if everything they’re advocating has been the fashion for 3,000 years? Jesus is the new as well as the eternal. Jesus is true progressive. He’s the one standing athwart history and calling for change. Progressives are clearly the ones attempting to turn back the clock to a pre-Christian era. They seek to turn the clock back on human dignity.

Tertullian, a 2nd and 3rd century Christian theologian, described surgical implements which were used in a procedure similar to the modern dilation and evacuation. One tool had a “nicely-adjusted flexible frame” used for dilation, an “annular blade” used to curette, and a “blunted or covered hook” used for extraction. The other was a “copper needle or spike”. He attributed ownership of such items to Hippocrates, Asclepiades, Erasistratus, Herophilus, and Soranus.

During the Pax Romana, there was a decline in the number of children, throughout Roman society. The Romans had condoms made from the bladder of a goat. The situation got so bad that there were imperial laws requiring parents to raise more children, but still the birthrate dropped.

Any of this sounding familiar? How’s the Roman Empire doing now?

Could it be that secularists want to be called progressives because by cloaking their ideology as “new” they don’t want you to discover the damage their ideals have wrought in the past?