I experienced an extremely unsettling few minutes this morning as I perused the Internet for hot topics relating to pregnancy....
I experienced an extremely unsettling few minutes this morning as I perused the Internet for hot topics relating to pregnancy. The reason? I came across several articles and blog posts telling the story of a couple who is trying to decide whether they should have an abortion. Instead of making such an extremely serious and personal decision themselves, they have decided to ask the internet if they should have an abortion. Yes, you read that right. They are polling the 'net to determine whether they should have an abortion or keep their pregnancy. First, I want to be clear. I'm not writing about this to have the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate. That never goes well...and there's no point. Plus, our personal feelings on abortion are not at issue here. The issue is that a couple is taking a very, very personal and extremely serious decision -- because no matter how you feel about abortion, the decision to have one is unarguably serious -- and asking strangers to make it for them. The couple, Pete and Alisha Arnold, created a website -- Birth or Not -- with the tag line "Help us decide. A real abortion vote." On the sidebar is the following:
Dec. 9th is the last day we could legally get an abortion in our state. This vote will remain open until 2 days prior to allow for the procedure if decided.
And below that is a poll. An actual Polldaddy poll. The question: "Should We Give Birth or Have an Abortion?" The options: "Have an abortion" or "Give birth." Take a minute, if you need one. I did. Their website has the traditional "About" page where you learn a bit about Pete and Alisha. They seem quite normal, really. Which probably shouldn't surprise me, but it does, because I don't think there's anything normal about asking millions of random strangers to decide whether you should have an abortion. Gawker interviewed Pete over the phone and shared this:
Pete told us over the phone that on that day he plans to check Polldaddy's records to make sure there hasn't been any double-voting or other evidence of fraud and then he and Alisha will use the results to decide whether to keep the baby. They'll have two days to make a decision before the 20th week of Alisha's pregnancy ends, and, with it, her last chance to get an abortion. The poll will influence their decision heavily, the couple said by phone this evening, but it won't be binding. "It's kind of like Congress. They might vote for something, but the president has the final veto. If it's overwhelming one way or the other, that will carry a lot more weight."
Well, phew. That's great news. I mean, we wouldn't want any double voters. And at least strangers' input into whether they should have an abortion isn't binding on them. I feel better now. Or not. I'm hopeful that this is a prank, even though Pete Arnold assured Gawker that asking millions of people via the internet whether he and his wife should have an abortion was not a prank. There's more to this story. Pete and Alisha Arnold have experienced two miscarriages over the past year and half. They bought their domain name during the last pregnancy...before they miscarried. Which means they were thinking about doing this before they became pregnant this time. And that, of course, makes me ask: Why did they get pregnant again? According to Gawker,
Pete, who described himself as a Libertarian, framed the couple's majority-rule abortion as kind of an extreme civics lesson that he hoped would bring the abortion debate home. "Voting is such an important part of who we are as a people," Pete said. "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."
Wow. Gawker did a nice job explaining the extreme logical flaws in that argument. No point in getting into that. Because, really, is a couple who intentionally gets pregnant, not knowing whether they want to be parents, then asks the public whether they should have an abortion, logical? Whether this is an awful prank, a pro-life stunt or the absolute truth, Gawker pretty much summed it up:
...all of these possibilities suggest these people should never, ever raise a kid.
I'm bothered by this. I know that insane things play out on the internet all the time. But simply because the internet is full of crazy doesn't mean it doesn't bother me occasionally. I find the situation sad if it's true...and I find these people sad if it's not. So, what do YOU think? What's your reaction? Do you think it's true? False? Do you care?

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andyjnj November 15, 2014
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