This is the sort of story you wish would turn out to be a sick and tasteless hoax. Here is the UK Daily Mail version:
A married couple has sparked fury by setting up a website to let the public vote on whether or not they should have an abortion.
Pete and Alisha Arnold, both 30, say they launched birthornot.com because they are unsure if they want to be parents.
The couple, from Minneapolis, have uploaded regular scan images of the foetus, which is a perfectly-healthy boy they have nicknamed "Wiggles".
The story is disturbing on a number of levels. It immediately strikes one as shocking and vulgar, but then again, we live in the age of Facebook and Twitter, where a person can’t have an insipid thought, a disordered desire, or, for that matter, a bodily function, without wanting to broadcast it over the internet.
As disconcerting as this story is, it’s interesting that a self-described pro-choice couple would give weight to the majority view, even if “the people” decide that they should carry an (apparently) unwanted pregnancy to term. I think it’s bogus that (as they claim) they posted this poll online to allow people to “make a difference in the real world.” Based on their own descriptions of their personalities, I am more inclined to believe that this is either a bizarre publicity stunt (How’s that 15 minutes of fame working out so far?) or a craven attempt to absolve themselves of any personal responsibility for the child they have conceived.
But it has certainly sparked discussion, and that can only be a good thing, especially in the abortion debate, which is far from settled, no matter what current legislation or opinion polls suggest. Whether the Arnolds realise it or not, they have at least tacitly acknowledged that society has an interest, and yes, perhaps even a stake, in whether or not their unborn son lives to see daylight. In the Daily Mail article itself (I did not read the hundreds of comments), only pro-life activists are quoted. Where is the pro-choice side of the argument? This Los Angeles Times report has a brief comment:
Linnea House, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, told
the newspaper, "This website gives the impression that making this
profoundly personal decision is akin to voting on a reality TV show.
"It is an insult to women, and I think most people will dismiss it as a sad attempt to get attention."
Predictably, at a time when slightly more than half of Americans call themselves pro-life, this pro-choice spokeswoman rejects the idea that majority opinion should carry the day.
My heart aches for Wiggles, especially as the voting deadline approaches. He’s in a lose-lose situation, for as many others have pointed out, the couple who have conceived him seem grossly unsuitable for parenthood in general if they are this capricious and flippant about whether their unborn son lives or dies. Too bad the Arnolds didn’t include a third option: give up their son for adoption, to someone who would truly welcome and cherish him.
If only Wiggles had been a Golden Retriever foetus; the law might already have intervened on his behalf, at the behest of some passionate animal rights activist . But alas, he is merely human, and under the law (of many a modern democracy) not strictly a “person”, and so is without basic human rights.