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Agirre’s work may be cancelled or banned for not repeating the usual feminist claptrap about “post-birth abortion”, “fourth trimester abortion”, or some other euphemism for killing newborn babies, so read it now.
This novel, therefore, can be illuminating for the pro-life reader, someone who may not be familiar with the push to legalize infanticide as a logical extension of the pro-abortion movement. After all, if an unborn baby is merely property of the mother and is unwanted, then why should that child be allowed to live after his or her birth?
Fortunately, instead of being a preachy work that attempts to pass itself off as fiction (like, for example, Heather Marshall’s Looking for Jane [Atria Books, 2022], which I recently reviewed, which is more a propaganda piece than a work of fiction), Agirre’s 161 pages constitute a well-constructed work of fiction, examining the case of a mother who drowned her twins in a bathtub.
The novel is much more than that, however. Agirre’s narrator is herself a mother who had just delivered her newborn son, so she can identify with the infanticidal mother’s postpartum depression, boredom with the ennui of motherhood, and possible psychosis. The narrator is able to understand, perhaps resolve, the conflicts in her own life as she is trying to understand how any mother could kill her own children, and the conflicts the narrator experiences are profound, as every new mother knows. She describes the effect of her new status as a mother on her being thus: “my identity as a mother had devoured all other identities and banished all my other selves into exile” (22).
Despite these conflicts, the narrator utters several profound life-affirming statements against infanticide, which pro-life feminists will appreciate. For example, the narrator reflects on how the word “infanticide” is euphemistically replaced by “the acts” during the infanticidal mother’s trial (37). She talks about how “it’s easy to kill a child. They’re small, weak” (89). All of chapter 1, titled “Killing Children”, in Part II gives a brief, often ironic history of infanticide (89-97), ironic as in the following sample: “If abortion demands action (be it turpentine or a rusty, unsterilized hanger to the uterus), infanticide only requires omission. Don’t keep it warm, don’t feed it or care for it, abandon it in a forest, lock it in a closet, forget you put it there. Done” (89; italics in original).
Moreover, since she is a writer who has been awarded for her work, the narrator delves into the infanticide case as an interesting venue for her to write her own emotions and experiences with love, becoming pregnant, being tired and (often) bored with motherly activities, and other matters. The work, then, represents reality and is neither a saccharine view of motherhood as pure joy nor the drudgery warranting killing the unborn child in abortion or the born child in infanticide.
The narrative maintains dramatic tension throughout the easy-to-read chapters, and the concluding paragraph, which contains the narrator’s respect for the killed twins, reads remarkably like a credo of a pro-life feminist writer:
Everything I did, I did for me. Following an impulse down to the last comma. But I want to think that, to a certain extent, I also did it for them. An acknowledgement or offering, a taste of all they were denied, a little tenderness—at least in memory—for those twins who were probably perfect too. I am life, after all. And at the end of the day, I try to beat back death. (161)
That the narrator concludes the work by expressing this pro-life philosophy is particularly noteworthy since she never manifests a religious faith on which her life-affirming principles could be grounded. The reader should conclude that, if a secular person can arrive at such life-affirming statements, then supporting the right to life of newborn babies should be much easier for religious persons.
Recommended for students of infanticide literature and activists who see the killing of the newborn as a growing threat from pro-abortion feminist zealots.