Q: What if a foetus could choose whether to be born?
Chapter one - Roulette of pre-life
I never realised how important it was until it was taken away. My right to birth. My right to life. To walk towards my future, where and whenever I wanted.
It was a simple system. When we had completed our training for life, they would hand us our Future Family Profiles (FFP) and the algorithm would calculate our probability scores - how likely we were to experience adversity, depression, happiness…that kind of thing, based upon you becoming a part of that family. Depending on our rank, we could choose to accept or decline the profile. The higher you were in our unborn society, the more chances you had to pass on a FFP, hoping that a better option would come along. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. That was the roulette of pre-life.
The profiles also indicated the levels of acceptance and how wanted you were going to be in your new life. Surprisingly they weren’t always positive. Sometimes the Committee would recommend terminating a journey if it wasn’t in the best interests of the mother or the child. Sadly there were occasions when this wasn’t possible and volunteers were necessary. The kind hearted souls who stepped up to this challenge were exactly what these cases needed.
When passages were aborted, they were usually kept a secret from the mother. Why would we want to cause her unnecessary distress? After all, her happiness was our ultimate goal and she was the most important being in our universe. Our cocoons, our nurturing carers, our alchemists. Without mothers, we wouldn’t exist. Without them, we would never reach our potential and that is fundamentally what we were all here to do. On entering the womb, we are all given a life purpose, whether it be grand or humble, and it’s our mission to discover and fulfil it. No simple feat, even with all the pre-life training we endure, as our memories are erased and we become helpless at that moment of conception. A clever device to compel our future parents to care for us and promote a bond. Plus, without the prospect of a blank slate, many would-be parents wouldn’t bother. What’s the point if it was all pre-determined?
In this blue landscape, brimming with the souls of potential foetuses, I felt fortunate. I was part of an elite Committee that occupied the majority in the Assemblage. Our mission was to drive through the Fulfilment of Mothers manifesto and I was one of the key players. I was part of something great and I was making a difference.
We believed in freedom for all women so that they could live their best lives. We wanted them to feel secure in themselves so they chose the right partners to parent with. We wished them happiness so they had the capacity to love and nurture us. We needed them to be mothers. We needed them so we could exist. The problem was, the more fulfilled women became, the less children many of them had. Some of us wouldn’t get a chance on life. It had to change.
We needed the right candidates to be born and to influence more women on the other side. Those who were the most resilient and persuasive. Those who would not fail the mission. We needed to control the agenda on both sides and spread the message. Any threat to our way of thinking became an enemy. Desperation and fear drove every one of us. That was how the vote on who can be born was passed.
We couldn’t choose whether we wanted to be born any more. Overnight our rights were taken from us. Overnight we weren’t autonomous. And I was complicit.
The vote hadn’t felt right but I hadn’t said anything. Why? Why hadn’t I objected? Because I was afraid. Afraid to do the wrong thing. Afraid to be condemned. Afraid to be cancelled. So I abstained. I kept telling myself that it was the same as objecting but I knew deep down it wasn’t. I had let everyone down, including myself.
One by one, the strongest candidates were being sent down to life. We no longer had the option to terminate a journey so some of us had to be born into the direst of circumstances. Like the case of the ten year old rape victim in Ohio. No words. Breaks my heart.
I didn’t know what to do. I felt helpless. I wanted to make things right but I didn’t know how. I had made the wrong choice and I had to resolve it.
The moment of truth arrived when I was sent my orders. I was to be born to a young woman whose boyfriend had pressured her to have sex with him. He said she had wanted it. Her parents were disappointed in her. She was due to escape to college in September but now her future was uncertain. Was my purpose in life to be to save hers? I had such big hopes and dreams. This wasn’t what I had envisioned.
Being a Committee member, I had power to veto. To make my stand by refusing to be born. This mother didn’t need a baby. She needed her rights to choose too. Why was she being forced to have this baby anyway? What had it got to do with the lawmakers? It’s her body, her right. What kind of cruel world was I thinking of being born into?
But another side of me was pushing me to survive. By making an idealogical stand, I would be ended. Kicked out of the Committee and grounded from ever being born. What was the point in that? I needed to change the system. Reverse the decision. I couldn’t do that from out of the circle, could I? I had to stay and fight from within.
Staying quiet once again felt cowardly though. I didn’t know what to do or what to feel. Should I accept or decline my orders? What was I to do?
Chapter two - Pre-incarnation
Mexican cavefish once had eyes. Piercing blue ones with a yellow hue that sealed over and disappeared as the darkness of the caves made them redundant. Regressive evolution, they called it. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
I wasn’t going to let that happen to me, to us…to lose our voices…just because we were fearful or clueless. I had to be fearless. I had to use it.
That’s what I kept telling myself as I imagined a shoal of swirling Mexican cavefish. Round and round, lulling me into a hypnotic trance. What was I to do? My mind was whirling round in circles too. Make a stand or fight from within? Refuse or accept to be born? What if they needed their eyes later in their lives when circumstances changed? I imagined a shadow creeping up on them and swallowing up the aquatic murmuration. Life was so fleeting. Any effect from standing my ground would dissipate in a heartbeat. My victory would be temporary. Life would still go on. I had to be cunning, use my inner access to my advantage, to Judas my way out and reverse the vote on who could be born.
First, I had to understand how we had got here. How this hellish dystopia had sprung on us overnight. This hadn’t happened by accident and it sure wasn’t because women were having less babies - even though that’s what the pre-life media were telling us. It had been a long time coming, a carefully considered chess game, played by the men in power. A move born out of fear…of losing control…of change, as women started acting autonomously. Unplanned. Unsanctioned.
It was inevitable though. Nature has to change to survive. If you hold us down, we will resurrect. Species have to evolve and to progress or we’ll all end up like the Mexican cavefish. Blind.
Many of us already were - blind to what was in front of us. Closed eyes to what was yet to come. We didn’t want to face up to the fact that we had all been manipulated, that years of careful planning and puppetry by the elite had led to this air of threat that surrounded us, the bubbling fear that made the decision to allow this anti-human vote a reality. What other rights were they planning on taking from us next? We were all ripe for the picking. We were all vulnerable. We had to do something.
In my mind, the fish were swimming round again. Those who survived. Those who had swam in a different direction to the others. It then hit me. That was what we had to do. Change the direction of the birth journeys. Evolve the current pre-incarnation process so the right to choose was handed back to the individual.
I found my FFP and accepted my upcoming birth. This girl did not need me in her life. The last thing she needed was a baby. Using my mind, I accessed the secure area, a fortunate privilege for members of the elite Committee. Scrolling through the various FFPs, I divided the women who wanted to have a baby from the ones who didn’t. I then split the willing pre-incarnates from the unwilling and changed the algorithm so as to match the flow of birth to only the consenting on both sides. This was evolution by stealth. No one would notice the change until years down the line. They were so pleased with their victory, their eyes would be off this ball and on to the next.
Satisfied, I started getting ready for my birth, this time to an older woman who had been trying to get pregnant for years. Her desire for a baby was off the charts. This was where I wanted to be born. My destiny.
Soon all my memories and skills would be erased as I stepped onto the slide that would take me away from this blue land. In one small jump, I would become artless and unformed. In my pre-life I may have been given all the necessary training but in this big, angry world ahead of me, all I had was fate and choices. I had to make sure that they were my choices.
I took a step back. I felt good, an ally, absolved, but there was still something missing. Was it enough that my great act of revolution was in stealth? Did it matter that no one knew, if the outcome was for the greater good? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Or should I be confronting the powers that be to pull them up for their crimes? How would I, little me, do that without putting myself in jeopardy? Was retribution always necessary for righting wrongs? Was a show down required for people to open their eyes? Or could we let them continue living in their unconscious worlds?
As I headed for the pink birthing area, I wondered if I had done enough for this chapter in my life? Had I done the best I could in pre-incarnation? I looked down the slide. My whole life waited ahead of me.
I took one more deep breath. Were my covert resolutions satisfactory or did I need to make sure everyone’s eyes were opened before I slipped out into the highs and lows of life? Had I done enough to avoid permanent blindness?
Now was my last chance to turn back, before I forgot everything. What was I to do? Step into life or hold back for another round in the ring?
Chapter three - Shiny ball of silver fire
Laughter, snuggling, love...crying, self-reflection, growth - the undulating emotions of a child growing up, the loving care of the parents guiding them through it...I saw it all flash below me as I peered down into the slide. Such joy and happiness flecked with pain. So complicated. So crucial.
I couldn’t wait to be born, to experience all that the world held for me, to feel alive. But something was pulling me back. It wasn’t the desire for glory or wanting validation for my actions, nor was it the need to vilify those who had done us wrong. It was much stronger than that. It was the realisation that I was once again culpable. Guilty of pushing my views on to others and thinking my way was the right way. Without realising it, I was being just like the lawmakers.
What right had I to change the algorithm in stealth, even if I thought I was doing the right thing? Such an important decision had to be down to the individual. It had to be your choice.
This had all happened because of fear. Fear that the female race was getting out of control. I would just be adding to it if I left pre-life without owning up to my actions. The only way forwards was through honesty.
I knew exactly what I was doing when I stood up at the Committee meeting and explained what I had done. I knew the chaos I would cause and I knew that I had dashed any hopes of being born. Coming clean was a heart-wrenching decision - it meant I was never going to experience the beauty of being alive - but one that I was destined to make. It was my life purpose.
So I had nothing to lose when I resisted them. Nothing to fear as they bore down on me. And in that moment, the fear that I had felt all this time...afraid to do the wrong thing, afraid to be condemned, afraid to be cancelled...metamorphosed into a shiny ball of silver fire and floated above my head. Instinctively I grabbed it and held it in my hand. It vibrated with an energy, akin to how I imagined being alive felt like. A warm glowing feeling, spreading out in all directions, a flare of euphoria...until it started burning. Sharp knife cuts of pain radiated. I threw the ball towards the slide. It caught fire as it tumbled down and burnt out of sight. In a flash it was gone. So beautiful. I felt lighter. I now had less fear.
Similar orbs of fire appeared above the heads of the other Committee members, lighting up the cluster like a celestial shower. Grab them, I shouted. Grab them and destroy them. Who needs fear to fuel decisions? Destroy them now and lighten your load. Somewhere from within me, a voice had appeared. So calm and so confident, I didn’t recognise myself. I realised then the true meaning of fearless.
They hesitated at first but one by one they started seizing their orbs and hurling them down the slide. Great balls of fire lit up the blue skies. It was breath taking, my heart opened. Was this how it felt, I wondered? I would never know but it was enough for me.
The Seniors took me away and locked me up. I didn’t blame them, what else could they have done? I was the inciter of an insurgence and a flight risk. Another soul took my place and was born to my designated older woman. It pained me to think of what could have been but I consoled myself that this was my fate.
Eyes were slowly opening again. News of what I had done spread to all corners of the blue land and beyond. They began to see what was really happening and what really mattered. As fear dissipated, the Committee began reviewing their laws. Without fear, they could make sensible decisions. They had a vote and kept my algorithm. Of course, those with ingrained fear didn’t want to give them up so easily. It had become a safety blanket for them and defined their existence. Fortunately they became the minority and soon enough, everyone became welcome to their own views. They were just not welcome to inflict them on to others. I had had a hand in progressive evolution.
Three decades passed. No longer imprisoned but still grounded. My daily routine consisted of a circuit of the blue land, culminating in the pink birthing area. I delighted in chatting to those about to embark on their birth journeys and I became known as a sounding board for their decision-making. Most of them wanted to be born but sometimes there were those who weren’t sure.
This particular one was perched on the edge of the slide, wavering. The FFP seemed incompatible. Let me see, I said. I felt that warm, glowing feeling again as the FFP recalculated itself on me. This had never happened before. Why now? I recognised the name of the mother. It was the first Committee member who had thrown their ball of fear that day thirty years ago. She was changing the world on the other side and wanted me to join her.
There is so much for us to do, she had written on the FFP. There’s too much fear this side and it’s poisoning any progress we make. Precedents are being revoked. We need you. Please come, it stated.
How could I go? I was stuck here for eternity. Besides I was happy. Why would I want to change things up and throw myself into the unknown? Somebody else should go. It didn’t have to be me.
I looked again. The FFP had my name on it and the shackles keeping me here disappeared. The slide was clear, ready for me to make my decision. My decision. My choice. Finally. But I was scared. I took a deep breath.
An image of a Mexican cavefish appeared in my mind. If you don’t use it, you lose it, it reminded me. A shiny ball of silver fire floated above my head. It sparkled enticingly. I knew what I had to do.
The US Supreme Court has overturned Roe V Wade and eliminated our federal constitutional right to abortion. It could happen elsewhere. Donate to Planned Parenthood - www.plannedparenthood.org
📷: Alex Andrews