July 22, 2004,
So now we know the lowest level of feminist hell, and there, in the white-hot center, stands the Costco.
This was a surprise to everyone who believed Wal-Mart to be the apex of retail evil, but villains are easily replaced and we have a new one in Costco, thanks to the musings of Amy Richards in the New York Times Magazine. Richards, of course, is the freelance writer who unwittingly deflated the "pro-choice" movement Sunday with her cheerful account of how she decided, upon hearing she was pregnant with triplets, to dispose of one or two of them.
Unmarried, and possessed of a "five-story walk-up in East Village," Richards considered the trauma of triplets for, oh, possibly 30 or 40 seconds, before asking her doctor what could be done about the problem at hand. This was, she said, her "immediate reaction."
Unfortunately for two of the babies she was carrying, it was Richards's delayed reaction, as well, and it intensified as she spent a day contemplating a life of "shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise."
Upon reading this line, I immediately e-mailed the essay to a friend who shops at Costco and who can occasionally be prevailed upon to buy me a big bag of teriyaki chicken breasts for only $12. I'd love a Costco membership, but I am fundamentally opposed to stores that make me pay for the privilege of shopping there, and I don't want to spend the money. (That $45 membership fee can buy a lot of under-the-table chicken breasts.) Richards would shudder to learn that there's an even lower level of domestic hell women who want to shop at Costco but can't afford it. If she'd known of us, she would have aborted all three, I suppose, and immediately gotten back on the pill.
So I send the story to Laura with the note, "Just so you know.... There are people who find our lives repulsive." She's a conservative, a Mormon, and I knew she'd be offended. But as the day wore on, and the essay made its way across the Internet and approached "most e-mailed" status, a curious thing happened: No one I knew, conservative or liberal, came down on Richards's side.
The pro-lifers, of course, turned purple and required emergency-room care. This was to be expected. But the fence-sitters the squishy middle that see nothing wrong with lifestyle abortions up until 12 weeks or so, but get more uncomfortable the bigger the baby gets reported feeling "sick" after reading Richards's story. Even strident pro-choicers were uncomfortable with the decision she'd made. A pro-abortion friend who works in the newsroom of a major metropolitan daily sent the piece to a handful of her liberal co-workers and, to a woman, they were "appalled" by it.
The essay reads like a parody published by The Onion or the Christian equivalent, The Door. It's what I would have written in college had someone assigned me an 800-word parody that exposes the shallow and the callow of the thirty-something population today.
"I'd have to give up my life!" Richards exclaims to her boyfriend and father of the triplets, who, to his credit, appeared a bit uneasy about the swiftness and ease of her decision. (Presumably, they never married, even after their son was born; Richards never refers to him as anything other than a boyfriend.) "I'll never leave my house because I have to care for these children!" she laments. "I'm going to have to move to Staten Island!"
Yeah, Amy, and honey? I would have told you although you have probably figured it out by now you're also going to have to horrors! wake up...unwillingly...during the night! And brace yourself you're going to have to remove anything breakable and/or poisonous within a toddler's reach! You will have to install child-safety locks! Put a car seat in the Corvette! Pretend to be interested in water Pokemon! You will be sneezed on, and bled on, and thrown-up on...the indignities know no bounds.
Worst of all, you will occasionally maybe even frequently catch a cold or even strep throat from that ungrateful little monster in your care. Children are parasites, really, from the moment they attach to your uterus and suck your nutrients away, and if you're lucky, this will continue for only 18 years and nine months, but usually it's much longer than this.
Some years ago, The New Yorker published a satirical piece entitled "Shiftless Little Loafers," in which the writer complained about how children do nothing but take and contribute nothing to better the world. One wonders if Richards read it and took it seriously.
You read her litany of complaints about How Motherhood Will Ruin My Life, and you want to shake her, and say, "But why? Why? Why are you getting yourself pregnant when it's clear that you are not prepared to make any sacrifices for them?" Richards seems typical of the woman who is determined to Have It All, even when she doesn't really want it all. She wants the Hallmark moments...the "experience" of having a child, which, in this Costco-is-the-enemy worldview, is just one more thing on the Cosmo checklist of things to do before you're 40. (Have a one-night stand with someone you met on an airplane! Buy a canoe! Learn another language! Have a child! But just one! Any more will ruin your figure!)
Richards doesn't say how old her son is, but assuming this account is recent, I'm figuring he's either a newborn, or about a year old. As the sole caregiver for an almost-two-year-old (and her three older siblings), I'd love to think that she's already regretting her decision, but I know the opposite is true. Each night she is awakened by a cry, every interruption in her workday, every dollar drained from her checking account for diapers or formula, she is telling herself, "What if it had been three? I couldn't have done it. I did the right thing."
But she didn't, of course. She did the easy thing. And she can tell herself for the rest of her life, that it was the right decision for her...after all, abortion is all about choice, isn't it? And you know, it probably was the right decision...for her.
But 20 or 30 years from now, when her adult son comes to her and asks as he surely will one day why she aborted his siblings, I wish I could be a fly on the wall. Because it may have been her children, her "choice," but in making it, she aborted her son's brothers or sisters. And some day, he, too, may believe in "fetal reduction"; after all, children tend to assume the morality, or lack thereof, of their parents. But, it also could be that, given a choice, he would have preferred to have had a couple of brothers or a sister, than the smallest jar of mayonnaise on the block, purchased at D'Agostino. Even if his mother was stressed.
Jennifer Nicholson Graham, an NRO contributor, is a writer in Virginia. Here website is www.jennifergraham.com