The ‘What If I hadn’t been born?’ question and why it so annoys pro-abortionists

By Dave Andrusko

Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore

I didn’t know until today that Rachael Larimore is now the online managing editor of the Weekly Standard. In a former professional life she was a senior editor at Slate.

The news of her promotion reminded me of a column (and a follow up column) she once wrote for Slate titled, “What if I hadn’t been born” (here and here) which touched off a flurry of comments.

And because she is not one of us (Larimore describes herself as a “moderate on social issues), it made her observations all the more telling. She is talking about people, like herself, who could have been aborted (for a whole host of reasons, including being “unwanted”) but weren’t (also for a host of reasons). Larimore wrote

And I think the reason that we freak out the pro-choice movement so much is not that we’re woman-hating sex phobes. It’s that we fly in the face of the narrative about how awful life is for unwanted children. We give lie to the claim that a fetus is just a clump of tissue. We offer painfully real evidence of what happens if you don’t have an abortion.

Looking back let me offer a couple of summary points about those who found Larimore unpersuasive–and their wholly unpersuasive rebuttals.

In a colossal failure of moral imagination, the pro-abortion mind cannot get past how the unborn child doesn’t “look” like a baby, especially early in his or her development. But what I found fascinating, which was obvious given the topic of “what if I hadn’t been born,” is how easily the pro-abortion mind glides to the “proper“ conclusion.

Which is? Heck, if you weren’t born, you wouldn’t have known that you were obliterated along the way. And moms and dads will just transfer the love they would have bestowed on you to the next child (assuming there is a next child).

Proponents of this use the benign example of miscarriages which are, of course, unintentional.

Let’s double back to the first objection–“lookism.” Can you think of a more efficiently heartless way of lethally marginalizing whole categories of people than airily announcing, “They don’t look like us”?

And, duh, what the unborn child looks like at, say, ten weeks, is what each and every one of us fortunate to be alive looked like when we were at that stage of fetal development.

Folks, that’s what homo sapiens look like.

And as for point number two (miscarriages/accidents), Larimore writes, “But here’s the thing” …..

“Our government protects our right to our lives as much as it reasonably can—it’s illegal to murder or assault someone, and you can be severely punished for causing accidental deaths—but it can’t guarantee us life. Tragedies happen: People die in accidents, or prematurely from cancer. To suggest that society shouldn’t recognize a right to be born just because some pregnancies end in miscarriage is like saying the government shouldn’t protect us because we could get hit by a bus anyhow.”

Let me just throw in one quick sidebar. She drolly chastises pro-abortion feminists for simultaneously insisting that they are ‘moral actors’ and demanding to be treated as adults yet screaming like adolescents that they must be able to abort because otherwise they are reduced to “mandatory incubators.”

In her response to criticism, Larimore reflected back on her original column. (P.S. she was born to teenage parents one year before Roe v. Wade was handed down.):

“And in the end, I guess that is really why I wanted to get the ‘What if I had been born?’ question out there. As I wrote in my previous post, I don’t consider myself to be especially important or special. The world at large is not a better place just because I make a mean jambalaya or volunteer in my son’s classroom or rescue that dog running around my neighborhood. But it’s a damn good life to me, and if raising an uncomfortable question can make even a few people think about how precious life is, to make them realize that it’s possible for someone who ‘shouldn’t have been born’ to grow up in a loving home with caring, dedicated, hardworking parents and turn out OK herself, well, then I’ve accomplished something.”