Oriana Fallaci

Letter to a child never born

Sara Montesel
Current events

I know no form of infanticide worse than war: war is mass infanticide postponed to the age of twenty.
And yet he accepts it, in the name of any number of other cults and does not apply his continuum thesis to it.

«My colleague had forgotten to add that for every Homer a Hitler is born, that every conception is a challenge replete with splendid and horrible possibilities.
I don’t know whether this child would have been a Joan of Arc or Hitler: when it died, it was only an unknown possibilities.
But I do know who this woman is: a reality that must not be destroyed.
Between an unknown possibility and a reality that must not be destroied, I choose the later. »

«My colleague seems obsessed by the cult of life.
But he reserves that cult for those to come. He does not extend it to those who are already here.
The cult of life is nothing but rhetoric. Even the remark a-child-is-not-a-decayed-tooth is nothing but a clever remark.  I’m sure my colleague has been in the war and fired his gun and killed, forgetting all the while that neither at the age of twenty is a child a decayed tooth.
I know no form of infanticide worse than war: war is mass infanticide postponed to the age of twenty.
And yet he accepts it, in the name of any number of other cults and does not apply his continuum thesis to it.
Even as a scientist I cannot take his continuum seriously: if I did, I should have to go into mourning every time and egg dies unfertilized, every time two hundred million sperm fail to arrive and pierce the membrane.
What’s  worse, I should have to go into mourning even when it does get fertilized, thinking of the one million nine hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine sperm that die defeated by the single sperm that has pierced the membrane.
They too are creatures of God. They too are alive and contain the elements that go to make up an individual.
Has my collegue never observed them under a microscope? Has he never seen them swimming with their tails like a school of tadpoles? Has he never seen themtoil and struggle against the pellucid zone, beating their heads desperately and knowing  that to fail is to die? It’s and agonizing spectacle. By ignoring it, my colleague is scarcely generous to his own sex. I have no wish to indulge in easy ironym but since he belives so much in life, how can he let billions of billions of sperm die without doing anything about it? Is this with holding of assistance or a crime?
A crime, obviously: he too should be inside that cage. If he doesn’t take his place there, and immediately, it means he has lied to us, that his sense of respectability is disturbed by those who say the problem does not consist in letting he greatest number of individuals be born but in reducing as much as possible the misfortunes of those already in existence.
“Still, I’m prepared to overlook my colleague’s insinuation of my complicity. At the mos I can be accused of mistaken judgment and not even a jury of life can hold me accountable for mistaken judgment. Besides it was nothing of the kind: It’s was simply a judgment and one for wich I have no regrets.
Pregnancy is not a punishment inflicted by nature to make you pay for the thrill of a moment.
It’s a miracle that ought to unfold with the same spontaneity that blesses the trees and fish.
If it does not proceed in a normal way, you cannot ask a woman to lie flat on her back in a bed for months like a paralytic. In other words, you cannot ask her to give up her activity, her personality, her freedom. Do you demand it of a man, who enjoys that thrill much more? Obviously my colleague does not acknowledge for women the same right he acknowledges for men: the right to dispose of their own bodies.
Obviously he considers the man a bee who is allowed to flit from flower to flower, the woman a genital system good only for procreation.
It happens to many in our profession: the gynecologists’ favorite patients are fat, placid brood mares with no problems of freedom.
But we aren’t here to judge the doctors. We’re here to judge a woman accused of premeditated homicide, carried out by thought instaed of by instruments. I reject the accusation of specific grounds.
The day I diagnosed the pregnancy as normal, I saw how greatly relieved she was. The day I perceived that the fetus was dead, I saw how deeply she suffered. I said fetus and not child science permits me to make this distinction. We all know that fetus becomes a child only at the moment of viability, and that moment occours in the ninth month; in exceptional cases, the seventh month. But let’s even admit that it was no longer a fetus, that I was already a child: The crime would still not exist.
My dear colleague, this woman did not desire the death of her child: she desired her own life.
And unfourtunately in certain cases our life is the deat of another, the life of another is our death.
We shoot at those who shoot at us.
Written laws call it legitimate defense. If this woman unconsciously desired the death of her child, she did it in legitimate defense. Therefore, she is not guilty.

[1] Oriana Fallaci, Letter to a child never born, Anchor book edition, 1978.

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