It was the Royal Free Hospital. Down in the bowels, past the AIDS test room. My wife and I walked past a couple awaiting results. They were chatting quite pleasantly. I don’t suppose there is anything else to do there. It was a small cut out square in the corridor. There were no windows just a lot of yellow ill air.
Before I go on, we were walking towards the abortion room. It’s tucked away in a place without light. I kid you not.
So how do I justify or really do I need to? My wife was nearly killed by the birth of our daughter. We ain’t kids anymore, my wife’s over forty so the prospect of a disabled child is higher. It wasn’t planned. But mostly my wife was nearly killed.
It was past the AIDS smell of the hospital, under the spider’s lid, the flap that takes you down as prey.
In a small room we sat cramped with other couples. There are magazines in the corridor, a library of affairs underneath posters advertising the morning after pill. So far it was easy. Natural. It was just an appointment.
In ancient days unwanted children were put inside pots and placed on hillsides. In China they leave them to die outside the train station, or at least they did. Now they have abortion gangs. They kidnap mothers and force them to give birth to still borns. There is no reason to attach anymore.
I’m not sure if human life is sacred. How can I be? There is flagrant abuse of it. Orders can be given which wipe out small handfuls in an instant, whilst a family elsewhere sues for a woman, who cannot breath on her own, hasn’t spoken or communicated in years. A president can join in this fist fight as he opens his bowels on another country. No, life is not sacred. It is rather some thing that we vitally cling on to, and because it is our only one we attribute it a sense of importance that it doesn’t deserve. By me stating that I believe that life is sacred, including yours, then perhaps you might not try and put an end to mine? We are not sacred. There is nothing sacred.
I was sitting there next to my wife. We were both quiet. I had taken the day off work. And there I was ready to flush a new life away. It is not yet human. I am unable to qualify what I mean by this term. What is human? Is it a thing with legs and hands, a head and a heart? Does it mean we are metaphysically significant? Are we an idea or a being?
My wife was examined. It was all fine. The foetus about six weeks old, except it was not a foetus, it was not a baby but a handful of cells. The doctor was humourless and tried to palm us off with contraception. We were made to feel sufficiently stupid. Sufficiently. And then sent off for a scan, to determine the age of this collection of dividing cells, this Petri dish of life.
The day was punctuated by waiting. Each second meant that the cells had been added to. Each long wait was an extra moment of its existence, more potential memories of future things popping into being. However as yet it is was not cognitive. Any form of personality would be an invention. Any qualities that we would attribute to it would be a fabrication. It would be our fantasy as parents, fantasies we were purposely nipping in the bud.
Again what is a human being? Is it defined by physicality, or action? Often, as a species, we act inhumanely but what does this mean? How can I be a human and act inhumanely? I can only be human.
When did I become human?
In the waiting room for the scan we were taken care of by an 82 year old man who was in great shape and good humour. When someone commented that he was in great nick he replied that he keeps the wife happy. We all laughed at this old man. Perhaps he was an accident too.
They made us watch the scan. It was like watching a radar of a hurricane storm and there in the middle a heart beat, like a solitary ship at sea fighting the storm that would eventually sink it.
Well it has been done. On Monday. It was done and we went home and we took our daughter into our arms and hugged her. Hugged her hard, as if to mould the dead one into her, like a piece of clay that had fallen off her beautiful sculpted body.