The XX Factor

Michele Bachmann’s Miscarriage Origin Story

Photograph of Michele Bachmann by Steve Pope/Getty Images.

Michele Bachmann added another origin story to the growing list, indicating that by her own mythology, Bachmann has a profound experience that turns her from the evils of liberalism onto the path of right-wing extremism at least once a week. This time Bachmann claims that the event that changed everything for her was the loss of her third pregnancy, which of course is trotted out as a reason to be opposed to abortion.  Not to discount the emotional impact the loss of a much-wanted pregnancy can have on a woman, but I suspect as painful as it was, Bachmann’s anti-choice views were set in stone long before that, probably back when she converted to fundamentalist Christianity in college and married a man who calls gay people “barbarians.”  Since anti-choice fanaticism tends to correlate strongly with homophobia and other extremist right-wing beliefs that Bachmann holds (such as the requirement that wives submit to their husbands), it just seems the far likelier explanation for her views on abortion is that they fit into a pre-established right-wing worldview. 

That’s the problem with arguing from such highly personal anecdotes such as how a miscarriage made you feel.  Because your miscarriage was sad for you doesn’t mean that someone else’s abortion wasn’t right for them.  If you want to argue from anecdote, I could point out that many people who are dear to me are only here because their mothers had a prior abortion and miscarriage.  If their mothers had those babies, then they wouldn’t have had later babies, and said dear people wouldn’t exist at all.  I would also point to women I’ve known who were relieved or indifferent when they miscarried, or had abortions and felt not sadness but relief.  I’ve known women who’ve lost a pregnancy by accident and by choice who felt a pang of “what might have been,” but it fell far short of being grief or even regret. 

The lesson here isn’t that abortion is always the answer or that miscarriage is never sad.  It’s that women’s lives and situations are very different from one another and incredibly complex, and therefore the decision of what to do and how to feel about it can only be left to the person closest to the situation, the woman herself.  I respect Bachmann’s right to feel sad that she had a miscarriage, and even to feel like she lost a child.  All I demand is that she extend the same respect to other women and let them choose for themselves what’s best for them to do and to feel. 

But I suppose if Michele Bachmann understood that people can be different from her and that’s OK, she wouldn’t be married to a man who equated being gay with being a barbarian, nor would she be so scandalized by the very existence of gay people that she would feel compelled to hide in the bushes to spy on a gay rights rally.