When I heard the news that former first lady Michelle Obama “just broke another barrier” (Washington Post) for revealing that she suffered a miscarriage and struggled with infertility — in her recently-released memoir, "Becoming" — I was intrigued.
Here is an adamantly pro-choice woman willing to share the pain of reproductive loss, an experience shared by many women, pro-life and pro-choice. Might it be common ground, a bridge to understanding? As a woman who has had two miscarriages, I felt an initial connection.
Obama said in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts that she felt “lost and alone” after miscarrying her first pregnancy: “We sit in our pain, thinking that somehow we are broken.”
She writes in "Becoming":
“If I were to start a file on things nobody tells you until you are right in the thick of them, I might begin with miscarriages. A miscarriage is lonely, painful and demoralizing almost on a cellular level.”
Absolutely, I agree. But then, this:
“When you have one, you will likely mistake it for a personal failure, which it is not. Or a tragedy, which, regardless of how utterly devastating it feels in the moment, it also is not …." Talking about it with other women helped her see that “what I’d been through was no more than a normal biological hiccup, a fertilized egg that, for what was probably a very good reason, had needed to bail out.”
What a minute, what? Connection lost. “No more than a biological hiccup’?” My first baby needed to “bail?” That’s not how I felt at all. The baby I was talking to and dreaming about was suddenly gone. And that particular child could never be repeated.
Obama’s introspection seems oddly worded — or crafted. My translation is this: listen, women, you might be conditioned to mourn a miscarriage, but you shouldn’t. If you knew it was just your biology, a “fertilized egg” that was imperfect and wouldn’t make a good baby anyway, you’d feel fine.
Sadly, it sounds familiar. I should have realized that a book extolled by The Washington Post, CNN, and ABC can’t acknowledge true anguish over pregnancy loss because it conflicts with the other common cause for pregnancy loss: abortion. Mourning the loss of a pregnancy reveals maternal attachment to the unborn child, and that’s an abortion rights’ no-no.
While it is a fact that many women experience guilt, regret, pain, and grief following abortion, media-fueled movements like “Shout Your Abortion” and the latest celebrity political ploy, abortion comedy routines, are aggressively pushing a narrative that women should be proud to abort, and not think twice, even about multiple abortions.
In a so-called #MeToo world, where we are supposed to listen to women, women who courageously express their commitment to the unborn, or who admit they regret their abortions, or who try to warn other women about the risks to health and future fertility from abortion are silenced. You won’t find their voices in The Washington Post or CNN unless they are being condemned as anti-woman.
Still, when women write about their children, sometimes the truth can’t help breaking through. When Michelle does become successfully pregnant, through IVF, she writes movingly about the joy of being with (unborn) child.
She was “indivisible from this small, burgeoning life that was now throwing elbows and poking my bladder with her heel. I was never alone, never lonely.” And when she was born, she was “one of the two most perfect babies ever to be born to anyone, anywhere.”
Because Malia was so wanted she was loved from her very beginning and spoken about in human terms. However, a woman who doesn’t want her baby, or wants her baby but is pressured or coerced into an abortion, is simply practicing her “reproductive rights.” What is removed isn’t a baby, isn’t a life worth protecting — even though aborted babies also have elbows and heels.
Is a human being real or imaginary based on whether or not his or her presence is desirable?
Of course not, that’s illogical, and unscientific. But it is our dominant cultural message about unborn life — that a human being’s life can legally depend on whether he or she is wanted.
If we can separate a class of humans out as having worth depending on location, size, abilities, health, poverty, or being “planned,” who is safe?
The truth is, all sorts of women do grieve pregnancy loss, because we are biologically wired to form a deep bond with our children. Imagine being pregnant — it’s the closest, physically, one human can ever get to another — actually and completely inside. Two hearts beating together. When one heart fails, mourning is a natural reaction. That’s the kind of wisdom and honesty women need to hear.
Maria McFadden Maffucci is the editor of the Human Life Review, www.humanlifereview.com, a quarterly journal devoted to the defense of human life, founded in 1974 by her father, James P. McFadden, Associate Publisher of National Review. She is President of the Human Life Foundation, based in midtown Manhattan, which publishes the Review and supports pregnancy resource centers. Mrs. Maffucci’s articles and editorials have appeared in the Human Life Review, First Things, National Review Online, National Review, Verily, and Crux. A Holy Cross graduate with a BA in Philosophy, she is married to Robert E. Maffucci, and the mother of three children. Her interests include exploring opportunities for individuals with special needs. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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