I Learned It By Watching You

This is not a new story, but it’s new to me. Sister Apple Sister Pig is a free children’s story (badly) written by feminist painter Mary Walling Blackburn; and like many such books, it aims at helping small children understand and accept an adult issue:  the abortion of their siblings.

The story is about a young child of indeterminate gender named Lee (who, for the sake of simplicity I will refer to with masculine pronouns.) I suppose you could say that Lee is pleasantly haunted by the ghost of his aborted older sister. As he goes about his morning exploring the yard and doing kid things, he keeps asking his dad whether his sister is in the tree, the apple, the pig, or the pond that he encounters. The father is hesitant about dipping into the issue—simply telling Lee that she can be in the apple if he wants her to be. But eventually, Lee indicates that he knows what happened, and that he’s ok with it. He understands what his parents “had to” do, and he knows that his sister is a happy ghost whom he loves.

As repugnant as radical pro-abortion activism is, it does have a tendency to inadvertently wipe all the lipstick off of that porker. Sister Apple Sister Pig really does do a wonderful job of making the issue of abortion so clear that even a child can understand it—far moreso than I suspect the author intended.

First and foremost, it very plainly acknowledges that abortion kills an innocent human being. For all the talk of the removal of blood clots, tumors, and lumps of tissue among the pro-abortion crowd, the book couldn’t possibly be any clearer about what happened: “Lee is Papa and Mama’s only child for now, although there once was a sister.” “She lived before me, but Mama couldn’t keep her. Mama says she is a ghost.” “She briefly lived in Mama.” This is not the usual narrative of a woman who chose not to become a mother, but the reality that abortion is about a woman who is already a mother choosing to kill and discard the daughter that she already has.

Secondly, it (unintentionally, I think) placards the radical selfishness at the heart of the pro-abortion movement. Curiously, the choice to abort is always phrased as what Mama and Papa “could not” do, as though it wasn’t really a choice at all (ironic coming from a movement that claims to be all about choice.) But eventually, the “good reasons to not have a sister right here right now” come out. Lee helpfully explains to Papa why he’s not sad that his sister is a ghost:

If you kept my sister, you would be tired, and sad, and mad! … Because we would be wild and loud and sometimes we would fight. Mama might be scared that she could not buy enough food for us. Mama might not have enough time to read to me, to paint with me, to play with me, to talk with me.

So why was Lee’s living sister made to become a ghost? Because she would make his parents feel tired or sad or mad. Because she would take Mama’s attention away from Lee. But a ghost sister is more convenient than a living one. While a live child makes unavoidable demands on the lives of parents and siblings alike, the ghost sister never overstays her welcome. She’s there if Lee wants her to be, but gone when he doesn’t. “She returns when I call her…if I need her,” Lee explains.  The deep cruelty at the pit of this story’s black heart is this: Lee has learned from his parents that its better that his sister die than that he should have to share with her.

Like so many abortion stories—fiction and non-fiction alike—the book is a plea for absolution without repentance, and it demonstrates just how destructive that ludicrous quest can be. “Masochists, look elsewhere,” the dedication reads. “Between these pages you will not find the ‘luxury of grief,’ culpability’s sharp sting or salty guilt.” It’s clear enough what Mama is running from, but how does she get there? The path entails taking the most innocent surviving victim of abortion—the child whose sister was murdered—and trying to forge a reconciliation with him out of the base alloy of radical selfishness. Lee holds no grudge because he understands! He loves his mama and doesn’t want her to feel bad. And he knows how bad she would feel because he has learned to be just as self-centered as she is. He’s happier with a dead sister that can make no demands on his life than a live sister with whom he would need to share his mama. It’s a stunningly ruthless rationalization with which to soothe one’s conscience.

But as as a great philosopher once wrote, “conscience has its revenge.” The time will come when people like Lee’s mama will become as helpless as the boys and girls who briefly lived within them. And I suspect that these parents will be shocked at just how quickly they’re euthanized when they begin making demands on the next generation’s lives. After all, their surviving posterity will have learned from the best.

“Mom,” Lee might someday begin as the doctor clears the air out of his syringe. “Now just isn’t a good time to have an old parent. I know that if I do, I will be tired and sad and angry. I know that I’ll have less time for my career and my girlfriend. Maybe someday when I have more time and money, I could keep you, but now just isn’t the right time.” He nods to the doctor. “Don’t worry, Mom,” he says lovingly as she struggles against her restraints, “I know you’ll be a happy ghost.”

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