"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Abortion - Getting Rid Of The Little Ankle-Biter Before He's Born

'Having children is a bummer' said Jennifer X who watched her sister squeeze out three of them, lost sleep, sex, and income because of them, and was tethered to Kinder, K├╝che, Kirche like any hausfrau of the Fifties, a dishwasher, shit-cleaner, pablum feeder, and all around scullery maid.  'I want no part of it'


Of course her nieces would grow up and go to Harvard, graduate summa cum laude and go to Yale Law School, marry money, live in Cold Spring Harbor, and sail to Nantucket in the summer, so all that nuisance will pay off in the end; and at the very least her sister would have bragging rights, my son the doctor, and my daughter calls me every day kind of pride, recompense and recognition - a reflection of her top-flight genes, schooling, and upbringing. 

All that was just scrim barely hiding the bald fact that bringing up children is a bloody bore and the payoffs scant.  'How sharper than a serpent's tooth to have a thankless child', Shakespeare wrote in King Lear, and if there were ever an example of such thankless children, it would have to be Goneril and Regan who put the senile old man out to pasture, took his palace, his horses, and his gold.  

That was the rule in families, not the exception, thought Jennifer thinking of her friends' children who at best waved a fond goodbye before heading out the door, and at worst giving a parting shot with all the pent-up, nasty reasons for doing so.  

When you come to think of it, Jennifer reasoned, there was no reason in this modern, secular, socially secure age to have children at all.  What was the point?  You didn't need them to light the funeral pyre or to take care of you in old age.  Their cost was certainly far more than the benefit, so what was left? 

And then after one careless, drunken night, she got pregnant.  It one fell swoop there was womanhood, motherhood, life, sin, legacy, all wrapped up in one.  Scrape it out, D+C here I come was not so easy. No matter how much she had become used to the idea of pregnancy being nothing more than the rooster's contribution to her egg (God, how she hated that word) that combined to produce a bit of flesh that was her and not her but certainly of no account to anyone, she couldn't dismiss the fact that it was alive, or at least had the potential for being alive, and the thought was troubling to say the least.  

'I am not a cow', she said, rutted and fertilized, teats full like a bloody udder, splashing out this slimy thing after hauling it around for nine months, and then having it crawl up my stomach and start sucking away at me.  No thanks!

She had grown up in the heady post-feminist days of Girl Power, and the last thing those women counselled was motherhood.  Sister, you have come all this way just to be chattel again, tied and bound to the most insignificant, commonplace, patriarchal thing ever - childbearing?  Get real, get a job, become all you were meant to be. 

Yet with all that heady feminist Neo-Darwinism in her brain, there was no denying the....what should she call it?  Embryo, baby, fetus, thing?...  inside her demanding attention.  Her first thought was, ugh! Get rid of it, flush it down the toilet like a piece of leftover meat, gone, over and done with, forgotten, it never happened.  Her second was, hold on a second...

Her hesitation went against her every instinct.  A woman was not an ungulate, a fat cow, a breeding machine despite her XX, her reproductive design, her organic nature. So what, uterus and womb? 

Of course, if carried to its logical extreme, this anti-reproductive notion could only lead to a more class-divided society - let the least socially able produce offspring for the most able; a nation of surrogates paid a living for trucking around with a loaded trailer for nine months.  Or some AI in vitro virtual system for repopulating the world.  Just not me! I refuse to be rammed, fed, and delivered. Let someone else do the heavy lifting. 

Then there was that religious thing, that Biblical thing where Aaron begat Rebekka who begat Isaac ad infinitum ad nauseam in Kings and Deuteronomy and then the Holy Family nonsense where the only sensible factoid was the virgin birth.  If women had to have children better to have it neat and clean with no man involved and no messy consequences.  

Yet, at the same time, as unsure as Hamlet or Brutus or Orestes had ever been about murder - for, let's face it, as justified as it might be given the rights and new privileges of women, abortion was not the death of a fly - she knew that she had a principle to uphold.  The Right to Choose was a civic, moral right.  Individual freedom, personal integrity, and the will to action trumped any second thoughts about 'murder' which of course abortion could never be. 

Or could it?  Again the niggling, anti-progressive, anti-feminist thoughts kept her up at night.  With one swallow of mifepristone, her troubles would be over.  Nothing excised, nothing cut out, the thing inside her would simply disappear.  Woman, pregnant, fertile, woman, reproductive, pregnant....all night long. 

Worst of all she had gotten herself into this mess, pregnant without a husband.  She would have to take care of 'it' all by herself.  Her decision would be double indemnity - or (she was still Hamlet and Orestes) a treble vote for birthing the thing, adding to the value of the act because she would have to go it alone. 

Jennifer was not alone in her dilemma.  Thousands of women, no matter how much they denied it, could not simply get rid of 'it', flush it away down the drain.  They might march on the Mall for abortion rights, yell, stomp, and demand an end to male patriarchal decisions about their bodies, but they were women after all. 

Her decision was not an easy one, and one could just as easily see her walking into Planned Parenthood or suckling a newborn.  Men are lucky they do not have to face such existential, moral questions.  But then again we are the first to be sent off to war. 

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