By Dave Andrusko
“Narratively” describes itself as “a digital publication and storytelling studio that prides itself on looking beyond the news headlines and clickbait, focusing instead on ordinary people with extraordinary stories.”
I dunno, but at least to me, a writer for the New York Times hardly falls into the “ordinary people” category. Be that as it may, Kenneth R. Rosen’s, “She had an abortion without telling me. Is that OK?” is very much worth reading but not for the reasons Rosen would want.
The quote-breaker to open the story is a real grabber: “I never thought I would care. And then, suddenly, I did.”
Naturally, pro-lifers enthusiastically support a father’s right to plead for his unborn child’s life; we want the baby to live and we want the mother to avoid a decision she may well regret for the rest of her life. Let’s see where Rosen’s account fits in.
Speaking just for myself, I found it very difficult to work up sympathy, empathy (or any other “pathy,” for the matter) for Rosen’s involvement in the deaths of two unborn babies.
In the first instance, he is a pathetic loser who is with a fill-in substitute for a girlfriend who is in an off-and-on relationship with another man. (Rosen is “alright with that, so long as she pretended to like me, too.”)
When he intuits that Sasha has had an abortion,
“Whose was it?” I accused, my voice cracking through our silence. The room was still and her stare was precious and tormented.
“Come on, Ken,” she whispered, and looked the other way.
It’s not as if (as he tells us) Rosen wanted a child. Beneath the psychobabble, he is annoyed he didn’t get “a say.” Rosen adds, “By making the decision without telling me, she had decided I wasn’t worth dating, that all I’d ever be was her castaway.”
Poor, poor Ken. Poor, poor baby. Real baby? Not so much.
“Years later” he is another relationship, we’re told, when suddenly Alexa tells him she is pregnant. They had talked in the abstract about what-if and “Alexa had said she was sure she would pursue the pregnancy.” [“Pursue the pregnancy”?]
Rosen tells us
“That’s a crazy thought,” I had said back then. “We’re nowhere near any stability, and don’t you want to travel? You’re always talking about how little time we have and the things we hope to do. We would never be the same.”
Now, confronted with the reality of the pregnancy, I was at first shocked. But then, I consoled Alexa. I harnessed all that I had come to expect of a man’s reaction to this scenario in the years after Sasha, which was to express care and concern, and to cast my own feelings aside.
He’s thankful “Alexa had given me a voice.” (Subsequently he tells us, “It was liberating to be a part of the solution.”)
Get this. “I resorted to being for her the man I’d never been for Sasha. Despite the fact that I knew I was not ready for fatherhood, I started sputtering on about how it was Alexa’s choice and that I’d support her no matter what.”
Does he really deserve the pat on the back he obviously feels he has coming? He’d already told her before that having a baby would be “crazy.” He’s “not ready for fatherhood.” Is anyone over the age of six surprised when
she stopped me. And she told me she wasn’t ready either. Instead, Alexa said, she wanted to work on us, on our relationship.
So they decide to “terminate the pregnancy.”
Rosen tells us how he goes to the abortion clinic. While he waits for her “procedure” to be completed, they exchange texts.
He ends his narrative with this:
I understand now that it had been I understood Sasha’s decision on its face, but at the time wished that it had not severed whatever chance I thought we’d had at becoming something more. And, I realize now, that such reasoning does not justify my faulting her for making the decision without me. But, deep down, I still wish I’d been a part of the process.
After the procedure that night, Alexa and I took a cab home. I thought about the myriad decisions that can so complicate a relationship. And I understood then that the tenderness of our choices, sometimes, if we are lucky, bring us closer.
The “tenderness of our choices”–slicing and dicing a baby whom Alexa “believed had been a boy”?
There is nothing Rosen wrote that even suggested he gave the babies’ welfare a passing thought. He wants us to think better of him. Why? Because he voiced what was expected–to go along with whatever the women wanted–when (conveniently) what they wanted (or may have wanted) just happened to be what he wanted: freedom from responsibility.
What he really “care[d]” about was that Sasha and Alexa checked the box and included him the decision to end the babies’ lives.