A couple made an Internet sensation of itself today when its site, BirthorNot.com, hit the mainstream. Pete and Alisha Arnold are asking the public to vote on whether or not they should abort their 17-week-old fetus. On week 20 — the last week abortion's legal in their home state of Minnesota — they'll close the poll, weigh results, and decide to get an an abortion or not.
Immediately, this sounds like a pro-life prank, a parable about what happens when people are allowed to choose. Yet Gawker's Adrien Chen interviewed the couple, and they were quite convincing. "It's definitely not a pro-life campaign," Alisha said. "I believe in a woman's right to choose."
But then husband Pete peppers the conversation with this nonsensical quote. "Here's a chance where people can be heard about whether they are pro-choice or whether they are pro-life, and it makes a difference in the real world."
That makes no sense unless they're trying to make a pro-life point, so I've rounded up seven reasons why this whole story is fake. Read them below.
- Site's rhetoric: They've named the baby Wiggles, and underneath each ultrasound is a description of what he's doing: "Close up of baby's hand and mouth" and "Baby Wiggles waves hello."
- Baby's sex: Gawker reports the couple says the baby is a boy; however, if Alisha Arnold is really just short of 17 weeks pregnant then it would be too early to tell. WebMD says sex can usually be determined by 20 weeks while Parents magazine says between 18 to 20.
- Frequency of ultrasounds: Most pregnant women don't have their first ultrasound until 20 weeks unless they opt for a 12- or 13-week one that tests for abnormalities. Since Alisha says she's had two miscarriages, we'll assume she's high risk, but really ultrasounds every week?
- Ownership of URL: Double X looked up who owned birthornot.com and found whoever owns it has paid extra for anonymity. Yet the Arnolds are totally open about everything else?
- Aborting after miscarriages: If Alisha's had two miscarriages then she either wants a baby or is very bad with birth control. Either way, I can't imagine she'd abort on a lark (i.e. a vote) after three pregnancies or wait until the last possible moment, when abortions are most invasive.
- Excessive use of "quotation marks": This may sound silly, but there's a point. Double X pointed out that putting quotes around "the pill" was the mark of a pro-lifer; afterward, I noticed the Arnolds were using quotes around "abort" and their baby's nickname "Wiggles" or sometimes "Baby Wiggles." Who does that when they're serious?
- Say "baby": I have no judgment about how long a woman calls what's growing inside her a fetus or how early she calls it baby. Yet I've spent time around women who've had abortions and "baby" is usually not their word of choice.
Do you believe it?