Kim Janssen of the Chicago Tribune did a generally solid job with a delicate topic on Friday, telling the story of a woman who blogged about having a baby with Trisomy 13, then losing the baby to death soon afterward. This pregnancy, although fictional, drew on what blogger Beccah Beushausen said was her previous loss of a baby under similar circumstances.
The most poignant remarks from Beushausen, who blogged under the pseudonyms of “B” and “April’s Mom,” are about the seductive power of blogging:
Beushausen said she really did lose a son shortly after birth in 2005. She started her blog in March to help deal with that loss and to express her strong anti-abortion views, she said.
She had expected only a handful of friends to read it, but when her first post got 50 comments, she was hooked.
“I’ve always liked writing. It was addictive to find out I had a voice that people wanted to hear,” Beushausen said.
“Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand,” she said. “I didn’t know how to stop. … One lie led to another.”
Two things about Janssen’s story are frustrating. First, rather than going into the detail of Trisomy 13, Janssen describes the imaginary child only as “diagnosed as terminally ill in the womb.” Part of the drama of Beushausen’s story was her claim that, because the baby had Trisomy 13, “we were told to terminate.”
My second frustration is that Janssen describes the blog as misleading “thousands of abortion opponents,” with no reference to anyone else being misled by it.
Is there any way to know how many fans of the blog were drawn to it entirely because of its messages about abortion? Even the cached version of April’s Mom provided by the Tribune undermines that description. The largest art consists of glurge-drenched photos that mostly link to ads: Diaper decorations called RuffleButts, a bow boutique known as MissyPrissy and a sonogram image that’s labeled “April Rose.” The editorial content is of the same flavor.
Another cached version of the blog promotes a hair bow that benefits a crisis pregnancy center, and shows a color photo of a pregnant woman’s torso, labeled “April’s Mom.” As pro-life activism goes, this is tame stuff.
The adjectival use of anti-abortion is inescapable in stories about abortion protests. In this story, it’s about as tone-deaf as the infamous Tyson Homosexual and anti-abortion opera stories. Even pro-natalist — once attributed to the barbaric reign of Nicolai Ceausescu — would be an improvement.