Saturday, March 30, 2013

On A Failure of Love: "Poor Baby: A Child of the Sixties Looks Back On Abortion:"

Last night - Good Friday -  felt like the right time to download on my brand new Kindle a book - really more like a 50-plus page essay, by L.A.-based writer Heather King called "Poor Baby," a raw meditation on her three abortions.

No matter one's personal history, or one's political views on whether abortion should be legal, or one's moral belief as to whether abortion ever can be an ethical choice, this book is worth reading. In fact, I would say anyone with strong views about abortion should read this book with clear eyes and an open heart. We need King's voice in the conversation.

So much of the profoundly polarizing abortion "debate" in this country lacks nuance; this book does not.

"Even women, who will talk about anything, don’t talk about abortion. Women, who within five minutes of being introduced will know each others' career and relationship status, family situation, taste in clothing, food, movies, books, and men, don’t talk about abortion. I think this is because women, of all people, know that abortion is a failure of love. " 

King, who converted to the Catholic faith long after she terminated three pregnancies by three different men, has come to believe, as I do, that abortion is not an ethical act. But this book not a polemic. It is personal history written from a place of deep suffering lived out in the presence of overwhelming love. 

In a sense, I could not relate to King's story. All four times in my life that I have been pregnant, I have wanted to be, and considered the fact that I was, miraculous. That is because during my childbearing years, I struggled with infertility, so much so that when Greg and I were talking about getting married, I let him know it was probable I could never have a child conceived in my womb and asked him: would he be open to adopting children? (Of course he was.)

King's meditation is raw and my only quibble with this book is that it feels as if she took a big breath and just started talking and never stopped. I would have liked some chapters, or some breaks in the text so I could breath a bit to better take in all her intensity, and honesty.

Here is an example of how powerful the work is. Before telling her own story, King takes equal aim at both sides of the abortion debate and meditates on what is truly at stake. She questions, for example, why abortion opponents always choose a blond-haired child as the one who was saved from abortion. In classic Heather King style, she takes that  observation and makes a still bigger point.

Why not choose as your pro-life poster child a 20-year-old with Down syndrome, or a flaming drag queen, or an abscessed meth freak? Why not acknowledge that a good percentage of the babies who are “saved” are going to become broken-down homeless people, illegal immigrants, and vicious criminals? That of course is no reason to promote abortion; in fact, that’s the very reason abortion is wrong.  

Let’s remember who we’re dealing with here, folks: the unfathomable human race. We’re all bothersome. We’re all, in our ways, broken.  Which somehow makes it all the more imperative that we not lose a single one.

King's book reads as incantation, as a sometimes angry, always honest, prayer, a pouring out of what it means to be human, to have suffered, to have lost and to be found. We need her witness.


  1. Thank you for this! I willhave to check it out :)

  2. wow, stumbled across this via Ginny's facebook page - looks like a hard read. xx