Every year, thousands of women have pregnancies which result in terminally ill children being born, many of those children's lives doomed to last no more than a few hours - or minutes - at most. They are faced with a series of brutal, terrible decisions, including whether or not to have a late-term abortion to save the child an infinitessimally short lifetime of suffering and horrible pain, or to have the child, watch them suffer, and then make preparations to have a tiny coffin made for a tiny funeral for a child they may not have named until after it had already passed.
So, when Beccah Beushausen, blogging as "April's Mom", claimed to be pregnant with a terminally ill fetus, she drew tons of attention from anti-choicers.
Every night for the last two months, thousands of abortion opponents across the nation logged on to a blog run by the suburban Chicago woman who identified herself only as "B" or "April's Mom."
People said they prayed that God would save her pregnancy. They e-mailed her photos of their children dressed in pink, bought campaign T-shirts, shared tales of personal heartache and redemption, and sent letters and gifts to an Oak Lawn P.O. box in support.
As more and more people were drawn to her compelling tale, eager advertisers were lining up. And established parenting Web sites that oppose abortion were promoting her blog -- which included biblical quotes, anti-abortion messages and a soundtrack of inspirational Christian pop songs.
By Sunday night, when "April's Mom" claimed to have given birth to her "miracle baby" -- blogging that April Rose had survived a home birth only to die hours later -- her Web site had nearly a million hits.
Of course, there was one small hitch in this story of a woman inspiring thousands of people who'd like to see every woman in her situation forced into making the same decision she did. She never made that decision at all, because the whole thing was a lie.
There was only one problem with the unfolding tragedy: None of it was true.
Not the pregnancy, and not the photos posted on the blog of the supposed mother and Baby April Rose, swaddled in white blankets. The baby was actually a lifelike doll, which immediately raised the suspicion of loyal blog-followers.
"I have that exact doll in my house," said Elizabeth Russell, a dollmaker from Buffalo who had been following the blog. "As soon as I saw that picture, I knew it was a scam."
What Beushausen did was feed into the desire of anti-choicers to have a cause célèbre to use to consign the women who were actually in her situation to birthing dead or dying babies. They gladly bought into her story because they wanted to, because she would provide a convenient tool to use to batter other women into making the same decision she did. It was a nice little symbiotic relationship that would have made life even harder for women actually in Beushausen's fabricated situation, a figurehead standing up for the thousands of people who can't control every single woman's pregnancy directly.
Of course, the not-at-all-extremist-or-linked-in-any-way-to-the-murder-of-George-Tiller-even-rhetorically right is struggling with this. Not like women actually struggle with a potential child's fatal birth defects, but even worse. Rick Moran:
It is unfortunate that the victims of this hoax - the pro-life community who sought validation for their cherished beliefs - should have been played in such a shameful way.
Of course, if this asshole hadn't been dumb enough to use a doll to represent her fake dying baby, the "victims" of this hoax would have been, you know, actual victims instead of just shameful idiots. A doctor was just assassinated because he aided women in this same situation, in large part because this entire movement is based on declaring that women in this situation should have no choice but to have their dead babies, and aspiring terrorists embrace this selfsame lie as a rationale to hunt down and murder people providing legal medical services. Women may not just have pregnancies which could result in the fetus/baby dying, they have pregnancies which may result in their own deaths as well.
None of this matters, though, because Moran, a "pro-choice conservative", wants to protect innocent anti-choicers from having their precious widdle feelings toyed with. That's moral clarity you can believe in.
Of course, Ann Althouse takes the cake. She then subsequently shoves the cake in your face at your birthday party, and as the crowd stands in stunned silence, she drunkenly slurs at everyone, "Ih wuh a jooooooke!"
Why can't we see the blogger — Beccah Beushausen — as a fiction writer?
She didn't set out to trick or cheat thousands of readers. She got people emotionally involved in a story that they believed was true, but she didn't solicit money from them — only sympathy and prayers — and she didn't cause them to panic in any sort of a "War of the Worlds" kind of a way. She didn't even rope in Oprah, in that "Million Little Pieces" way.
I say: leave Beccah alone.
Well, she sort of did set out to trick them, as I believe one of the dictionary definitions of "trick" is "to fake a pregnancy to get love, attention and gifts by crafting a fantasy that feeds into a radical political movement's overwhelming desire to see that fantasy come to life, like those dreams you keep having about your World of Warcraft avatar beating up your boss". Her site was filled with ads, and, as mentioned above, she got plenty of gifts from her readers.
Oh, and if she hadn't put up a picture with a stupid fucking doll, she would have been a heated cultural touchpoint in a war to deny women the right not to die while delivering a corpse, an incredibly useful tool to use to justify demonizing the next woman who seeks to not punish her baby with seven hours of excruciatingly painful "life". Or die.
But hey, screw that. It's conceptually intriguing.