This post no longer fully reflects my current views. Nonetheless, I'm leaving it up because I think it is important to document one's stages of intellectual evolution!
I said I wasn't going to blog again today. But I just read this short piece in today's Sunday New York Times Magazine, and I have tears of rage running down my cheeks. Entitled "When One is Enough", it's the story of a 34 year-old woman named Amy Richards who became pregnant with triplets, and decided to kill two of them and give birth to the third. No medical complications were involved; her real reasons are here:
On the subway, Peter (the boyfriend and the child's father) asked, ''Shouldn't we consider having triplets?'' And I had this adverse reaction: ''This is why they say it's the woman's choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That's easy for you to say, but I'd have to give up my life.'' Not only would I have to be on bed rest at 20 weeks, I wouldn't be able to fly after 15. I was already at eight weeks. When I found out about the triplets, I felt like: It's not the back of a pickup at 16, but now I'm going to have to move to Staten Island. I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don't think that deep down I was ever considering it.
At this point, I thought I was reading a not terribly clever satire of 30ish East Coast career women, their elitism, and their incessant anxiety about becoming "just a mom". But the story continues grimly:
When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one. Before the procedure, I was focused on relaxing. But Peter was staring at the sonogram screen thinking: Oh, my gosh, there are three heartbeats. I can't believe we're about to make two disappear. The doctor came in, and then Peter was asked to leave. I said, ''Can Peter stay?'' The doctor said no. I know Peter was offended by that.
Two days after the procedure, smells no longer set me off and I no longer wanted to eat nothing but sour-apple gum. I went on to have a pretty seamless pregnancy. But I had a recurring feeling that this was going to come back and haunt me. Was I going to have a stillbirth or miscarry late in my pregnancy?
I had a boy, and everything is fine. But thinking about becoming pregnant again is terrifying. Am I going to have quintuplets? I would do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don't know. (Bold emphases are Hugo's).
Anyone on the pro-choice side want to make a case that what this woman did was morally defensible?
I've mentioned before that I've worked and given money on both sides of the abortion divide. Pro-choice until about four years ago, pro-life since; always, always, sympathetic to both sides of this immensely troubling, personal, complex social issue. As a man, I've no way of actually knowing what it is like to carry life inside of me. But as I get older, and spend more time with children, and think about becoming a father myself (Lord willin'), I find it harder and harder to accept the old pro-choice bromide that men "have no say in what a woman does with her body." When I was younger and irresponsible, I liked that line. Pro-choice rhetoric thrust all responsibility on to the woman; I, like other young men, was off the hook. If it's not my body, ultimately, then my obligation to respect and care for it is lessened accordingly.
Maybe it's Sunday, and I'm just tired. I'm usually so good at seeing both sides of the issue. Normally, I would blog about this woman and explain how she was clearly caught in a terrible place, and while I disagree with her ultimate decision, I respect her choice, etc., etc., etc. But honestly, folks, the more I think about Amy Richards, the angrier and more tearful I get. I'm sitting here at my keyboard trying to muster sympathy for her, and I just can't. Amy fucked up. (Honestly, Ph.D. and tenure and all, and that's the most apt expression I can come up with right now.) And for once, I'm not going to blame what she chose on our society's treatment of women, or male irresponsibility, or consumer capitalism or anything else. Her own words, as far as I can read, are too damning.
All I can think of is three heartbeats becoming one and I shudder and shudder. I'm going to go hug my girlfriend and my chinchilla now.