Satire | Pro-lifers, what if your spouse got someone else pregnant?

By Paige Wasserman, Staff Columnist

It’s times like these I wish my editors would let me curse in my columns. 

On May 3rd, Politico published a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that intends to overturn Roe v. Wade — the 1973 landmark case that asserted the constitutional right to an abortion. 

Chief Justice John Roberts has denounced the leak, essentially calling it an egregious breach of trust. Even Senate Minority Leader and geriatric Brussels sprout Mitch McConnell posited that the leak occurred “to stir up an inappropriate pressure campaign to sway an outcome.” He recognizes this as a bad thing because SCOTUS is supposed to be politically neutral, but as you could probably already gather, in practice it is not. 

With all of this chaos, maybe you’ve had conversations about the ruling with friends and family. I’m not close to anyone who is pro-life — all my friends and family are very progressive — but that doesn’t stop me from running into people in school, social settings or wherever else pro-lifers lurk and experiencing the displeasure of their misinformation and hateful comments.

Most people I’ve encountered who are pro-life are very set in their ways — and as I have found, their opinions are oftentimes rooted in long-held religious beliefs, or they are comorbid with other symptoms of conservatism. It’s hard to rationalize with people who are so certain that “abortion is murder.” The most passionate of them, those who scream outside Planned Parenthoods at medical patients looking to have their yeast infections treated, are completely indoctrinated, holding up scientifically inaccurate renderings of fetuses and spouting Bible verses — and, by the way, abortion is never directly mentioned in the Bible.

I don’t advise you to attempt to educate people so steadfast in what they’ve been taught. It doesn’t matter how much you tell them fetuses don’t feel pain until about week 24 of gestation. Debunking late-term abortions and explaining that they only occur in life-or-death situations is pointless. You’re talking to people who watch the same TV networks as Shaina from “Love is Blind” Season 2, who doesn’t believe in evolution. However, I’ve thought up a gorgeous question. Instead, force them to wrestle with their beliefs — What if your spouse got someone else pregnant?

I love this question so much. You ask it, and a switch flips within the pro-lifer. Their eyes glaze over. Their lips quiver. They take long, loooong pauses. It puts everything they know into question. It is chaos in the best way.

Surely, their response could be, “That would never happen.” But you can just tear a page out of Ben Shapiro’s book and “Let’s say, hypothetically…” them. Problem solved.

This question succeeds in challenging the pro-lifer in part because it does not ask “What if you had an unexpected pregnancy?” It’s fair to assume that someone staunchly anti-abortion would keep their pregnancy. In fact, an unexpected pregnancy could be a dream come true for a single pro-lifer. 

Nuclear families, ones with two heterosexual parents and children, are the centerpiece of the pro-life imaginary. Conservatives even blame the existence of non-nuclear families for drug addiction, poverty and many other ills of contemporary society. So if you accidentally get pregnant as a single pro-lifer, hooray! You’re fast-tracked towards your dreams. You have your shotgun wedding, your gender reveal party, and a few months later Braelynne or Huxley or MckEnzeigh enters the world and all is well. But my question concerns an extramarital mistake that compromises an already existing nuclear family. 

The pro-lifer has already achieved their personal utopia, and something has arrived to damage it. The urge to stop this force dead in its tracks is now at odds with everything the pro-lifer knows.

Additionally, the question places the pro-lifer in a difficult situation. For the most part, pro-lifers don’t care if you’ve been sexually assaulted. They don’t care if your birth control fails. They don’t care that you don’t want purple feet and stretch marks and 40-or-so extra pounds and pelvic pain and depression and nausea so severe that you end up in the hospital — and yes, pregnancy can cause all of these symptoms. They don’t care that you don’t want to go through a potentially traumatic birthing experience, one including major surgery and potential complications and vaginal tearing and oxygen masks. They don’t care because someone else is going through it, not them. And the legislators stripping folks of their rights, most of them male, can continue to make ill-informed decisions about bodies they’ve never had. 

They believe that carrying a child is an honor, not a punishment, and cannot imagine not wanting to be pregnant, so the pain and discomfort of pregnancy is a moot point. Instead, suggest the pain and discomfort of marital infidelity and the subsequent disruption of a normal life. That’ll give the pro-lifer something to really ponder. 

You have to force pro-lifers into the suggested situation because they’re far removed from real-life experiences of abortion. They don’t hear about friends, acquaintances or family members getting abortions, so they think abortion is a distant and impossibly evil act. By asking pro-lifers this question, you put them at the center of a situation. You force them to confront an imaginary where their life and reputation are at stake. 

And how might the pro-lifer respond to the situation? Would they stay with their spouse and be a gracious parent to their illegitimate child? Would they leave their spouse, go to work and start a new life? Maybe the pro-lifer would urge the mistress to give up the child for adoption. But then again, what if the mistress refuses? All of a sudden, the pro-lifer’s spouse is a regular Nick Cannon. That’s no way to live if you desperately need a traditional family. It’s an impossible situation to navigate, and it could happen to anyone. 

Overall, it’s unfortunate that in order to reason with a pro-lifer, you have to perform logic gymnastics and respond to threats to your autonomy with wit and composure. It’s exhausting to explain science to people who don’t trust it, and it’s exhausting for women to see old white men who know nothing about reproductive health create irresponsible legislation. But simply planting a seed in someone’s mind can be a catalyst for political realignment. Changing someone’s mind can be done –– I’ve watched peers from high school go from chanting “Build The Wall” to volunteering for Democratic political campaigns in about two years. Helping people see a world outside of themselves and their small communities will make way for empathy and understanding, even if you have to employ a brain-teaser to get there.

Paige Wasserman (she/her) writes about the arts, pop culture, campus culture and things that make her want to scream. You can reach her at [email protected].