Several years ago, I had a personal tragedy. I lost a baby. She was a child I desperately wanted, a baby I could already picture even though she was no bigger than a tadpole. I blamed myself: I had been too active or too lazy or ate the wrong thing or somehow had failed. In my soul, I knew I deserved the month or so of pain I endured, first with her eviction from my body and then with the recuperation and the heavy blood loss. It has taken me years to forgive myself, and even now when I look at her two little sisters sometimes I can see her too.
I knew that child. I knew she was a girl, knew she was blonde, knew she’d be smart like her daddy and feisty like her mama. The only thing I didn’t know at that point was her name; her daddy and I had not yet discovered it.
She was just as real as any post-birth clump of cells (these clumps are also known as “newborns”). When the doctor came to give me the bad news, I referred to my baby as a “she.” The poor man made the mistake of telling me, “But we don’t know what sex the baby was.”
I remember looking at him calmly. “That’s okay. She can be whatever sex I wanted her to be now.”
That’s why Leyla Josephine’s poem about her abortion tore my heart out. Not because it was sensitive and soul-searching, a repudiation of an industry that slaughters babies, but rather because it was the opposite – and yet I could see my own post-miscarriage self in it. Josephine tells us she would have raised her daughter to believe in abortion as part of women’s freedom.
Josephine, just like me, assigned a sex to her baby. She wanted that child to be a daughter, so a daughter she was. And she wanted her daughter to be a pro-abortion feminist, so she was.
Problem is, these assignations are just fancies. They are ways we humans can deal with the great tragedies of our lives. We make up stories that help us live through dreadful things, like losing a child, even when we have chosen to lose that child ourselves. Or, let’s face it, to murder that child. When you are at the point of assigning a child a sex and have decided how you would have raised it – the child is real, no matter what you choose to do to make your life more convenient. Worse, the child is real to you personally, in a way that does not allow you to deny that you are committing murder when you abort it.
We all like to think our children will do just as we teach them. Sadly, the reality is that they usually don’t. That is why we don’t hold the parents of a child legally accountable when that child goes terribly wrong and becomes a mass-murderer or a politician. Ms. Josephine, in her poem, fancies that her daughter (also a fancy) would have been all for Josephine’s aborting of her – because Josephine would have died for the daughter’s right to choose, too.
I would have made sure I was a good mother to look up to. But I would have supported her right to choose. To choose a life for herself, a path for herself. I would have died for that right, just like she died for mine. I’m sorry, but you came at the wrong time.
What Josephine does not seem to understand is that when a woman aborts a daughter, only one woman gets the right to choose. The other one dies.